Domenic Troiano

Tricky

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On his excellent self-titled solo debut from 1972, Domenic Troiano had proved himself to be a capable tunesmith, a surprisingly good vocalist (with a strong resemblance to Donald Fagen), and a first-class musician able to play in a style that was equal parts jazzy (à la Steely Dan) and rootsy (à la Bob Dylan and the Band). But perhaps because the Fagen-led Steely Dan subsequently hit the Top Ten twice that year, while Dylan and the Band were both in chart limbo, on this 1973 follow-up album, Troiano downplays the rootsier side of his music and concentrates on establishing a slicker, jazzier Steely Dan-like sound. In the end, in fact, Tricky ends up sounding so reminiscent of early Steely Dan that this record's few deviations (good and bad) from the Dan's trademarked jazz-influenced vibe really stand out: It's doubtful, for instance, that either the delightful rockin' violin solo on "If You See Me" or the dubious mall-Muzak strings on "My Old Toronto Home" would have been featured in a Becker/Fagen arrangement. As well, Troiano doesn't have the same wry, sometimes obscure, lyrical sensibility as Becker and Fagen, leading to a set of more straightforward songs (which, considering Steely Dan's occasionally pretentious lyrics, isn't necessarily a bad thing). Still, Tricky stands on its own as a good example of jazz and R&B-influenced pop of the early '70s, with a standout lead track in the nostalgic "All Night Radio Show." After listening to this album, though, there will be no doubt in your mind as to why Donald Fagen tapped Troiano for some post-Steely Dan session work...and why that work ended up sounding just like Steely Dan.

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