Steely Dan

Midnight Cruiser

Song Review by

Can't Buy a Thrill is an anomaly in the Steely Dan catalog, the one album featuring the group's original lead singer, David Palmer. (Ironically, even here, Palmer sings only two of the album's ten songs solo, as well as a couple more duets with Donald Fagen.) However, the album is equally notable for including one song, "Midnight Cruiser," sung by the Dan's original drummer, Jim Hodder. Hodder (who as it happens also sang the lead on Steely Dan's debut single, "Dallas" -- Donald Fagen was uncomfortable in the role of frontman at the beginning of the band's career) is an undistinguished vocalist, which makes him oddly perfect for "Midnight Cruiser," otherwise the most undistinguished song on the entire album. It's not a bad song, really, it's just musically faceless (the melody is highly reminiscent of Runt-era Todd Rundgren, and the production is oddly redolent of the smooth pop/rock of Carole King's Tapestry; good company, but still...) and the lyrics are not among Fagen and Walter Becker's most memorable. The slickly competent but lightweight "Midnight Cruiser" is probably what ABC Records thought they were getting with Steely Dan, which must have made the art-jazz explorations of Countdown to Ecstasy a rude surprise.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Can't Buy a Thrill 1972 MCA 4:08
Countdown to Ecstasy 1973 MCA 0:00
No Image 1982 MCA
Citizen Steely Dan 1993 MCA 4:06
Remastered: The Best of Steely Dan - Then and Now 1993 MCA 4:07