Wednesday, 9 April 2014

“Collected” by STEELY DAN – A Review Of The 2009 Universal (Germany) 3CD Compilation…

STEELY DAN is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


“…You Go Back Jack…” - Collected by STEELY DAN

I suspect like many Steely Dan fans – anything that enhances our listening pleasure of this most brill of groups – is fair game. I say this because I’ve noticed a rather odd phenomenon that’s taking place with Universal out of Europe (in this case I think it’s Germany). Their compilations seem to be remastered when they don’t say so - or just better mastered than those in the UK, USA and even (dare we say it) – Japan.

So I took a ten-pound chance on this 2009 “Collected” 3CD set by STEELY DAN (Universal 532 112-2 - Barcode 600753211229). And lo and behold – it sounds better. I swear to God! 
Anyway – here are the detailed pretzels combined with the sonic logic…

Disc 1 (67:17 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 5 are from their debut album “Can’t Buy A Thrill” (1972)
Track 6 is from their 2nd album “Countdown To Ecstasy” (1973)
Tracks 7 and 8 are from their 3rd album “Pretzel Logic” (1974)
Tracks 9, 10 and 11 are from their 4th album “Katy Lied” (1975)
Track 12 is from their 5th album “The Royal Scam” (1976)
Track 13 is from their 6th album “Aja” (1977)
Tracks 14 and 15 are from their 7th album “Gaucho” (1980)
(Track 7 “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” loses its album intro and runs to 4:08)

Disc 2 (67:04 minutes):
Tracks 1 and 2 are from “Can’t Buy A Thrill” (1972)
Tracks 3, 4 and 5 are from “Pretzel Logic” (1974)
Tracks 6 to 10 are from “Katy Lied” (1975)
Tracks 11 and 12 are from “The Royal Scam” (1976)
Track 13 was an exclusive song on the 2LP set “Greatest Hits 1972-1978” (1978)
Track 14 and 15 are from “Aja” (1977)
Tracks 16 and 17 are from “Gaucho” (1980)

Disc 3 (71:28 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 3 are from “Countdown To Ecstasy” (1973)
Tracks 4 and 5 are from “Pretzel Logic” (1974)
Track 6 is from “Katy Lied” (1975)
Tracks 7, 8 and 9 are from “The Royal Scam” (1976)
Tracks 10, 11 and 12 are from “Aja” (1978)
Track 13 is “FM (No Static At All)” exclusive to the 2LP Soundtrack “FM” (1978)
(It’s what’s know as the “Saxophone” version – the album also has “A Guitar And Strings Version” and “Reprise”)
Track 14 is from “Gaucho” (1980)
Track 15 is “Everybody’s Gone To The Movies (Demo)” that first appeared as a Previously Unreleased track on the 1993 “Citizen Dan” 4CD Box Set

The 3-way foldout card digipak houses an inlay in the left wallet with the 3 CDs spread across the other flaps. It doesn’t say who wrote the liner notes in the rather tasteful 8-page mini booklet and the only reference to sound is “Mastering: QS Sound Lab”. And even though each song is exactly the same length as the 1998 versions – my reason for the review is the SOUND…

I’ve A/B played many of the songs against the 1998 Remasters and the three 2008 Japanese SHM-CDs I own (I also have an SACD of “Gaucho”). And I’d swear the sound is inexplicably better on many tracks. It doesn’t sound ramped up for the sake of it – just clearer – more revealing somehow. “Do It Again” is a song I’ve heard a thousand times over 40 years – yet here its end section is detailed in rhythmic ways that I’ve not heard before.

If I was to single out a few –“Rose Darling” and “Bad Sneakers” on Disc 1 sound gloriously detailed all of a sudden – “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” and the gorgeously musical “Greatest Hits” loner “Here At The Western World” has extra oomph that it’s frankly always needed. The funky wallop off “Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More” and “Green Earrings” is now huge as is the fabulous “Josie” with it’s chugging guitar over on the right. “Third World Man” sounds stupendous – but then it always did (wow city goes to Larry Charlton’s perfect guitar solo). “Bodhisattva” and “Sign In Stranger” on Disc 3 are punchy as is the wonderful “Home At Last” for the magisterial “Aja”.

Fans will also notice that the set is ‘not’ chronologically lined-up and I’d argue is so much better for it. All 3 discs cleverly start at 1972 and end at 1980 – so they feel like mini compilations in themselves with genius running-orders. The only clunker on here is the terrible ‘Demo’ of “Everyone’s Gone To The Movies” which ends Disc 3 in a disjointed and unseemly way. Might have been better to include a better sounding “The Caves Of Altamira” - or better still - their rare debut 7” on Probe Records “Dallas” b/w “Sail The Waterway” - neither track being remastered for CD anywhere in the world.

If you wanted a cheaper option – the “Show Biz Kids” double-CD is dirt-cheap now – but I’d say the extra few bob spent on this is cash well spent.

And if ever a band deserved your hard earned – then the incomparable Steely Dan is that group.

PS: Other artists in this Universal Euro Series are:
J.J. Cale, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Golden Earring, The Moody Blues, Cat Stevens and 10cc.

I’ve bought the 10cc set - sounds better than the 1997 remasters on some tracks. It covers 1972 to 1992 and also includes UK label stuff, Godley & Crème, Graham Gouldman Solo and even Hotlegs.

And I hear the J.J. Cale triple sounds brill too…

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