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Who(s) mixed Aja?
Old 17th June 2005
  #1
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Who(s) mixed Aja?

Everytime I hear this album it is a reminder of what GOOD music is. What a successful album should shound like. The players, song selection, horn arrangement, album design and the mix all comes together so well.

Anyone know the board(s) / outboard used?
Old 17th June 2005
  #2
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paultools's Avatar
 

here comes a loooonnnnnnnnnngggggg thread.

Elliot Scheiner, I believe...
and the Aja Reunion DVD should required viewing by all!
Old 17th June 2005
  #3
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doorknocker's Avatar
I got a small Tivoli Model One Mono Radio that I use for checking mixes.
Aja sounds AMAZINGLY great and well-balanced even on that.
Great rhythm section work too!

Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
Old 17th June 2005
  #4
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Umlaaat
Everytime I hear this album it is a reminder of what GOOD music is. What a successful album should shound like. The players, song selection, horn arrangement, album design and the mix all comes together so well.

Every time I hear that album I'm reminded of how exquisitely one can polish a turd.

The arrangements are fabulous. The playing is fabulous. The recording, mixing, & production are quite possibly the pinnacle of 1970's commercial music, and will remain a milestone for years to come. I still listen to this record from a production standpoint with a combination of admiration and awe.

But the music is indefensibly arbitrary, so harmonically nebulous that it wreaks of infinite monkey syndrome. It's not quite as vapid as some current pop music where there's literally nothing going on; but in _Aja_ there's an awful lot of "information" going on that just cancels each other out, resulting in the equivalent of nothing. No tune progresses in the literal sense, they just start and get to where they're going by brute force. It's worse than ignorantly shallow music, it's arrogantly shallow music, so full of itself that it can't see it's own shortcomings.

And don't get me started on Fagen's voice.
Old 17th June 2005
  #5
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soultrane's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross

But the music is indefensibly arbitrary, so harmonically nebulous that it wreaks of infinite monkey syndrome.... in _Aja_ there's an awful lot of "information" going on that just cancels each other out, resulting in the equivalent of nothing. No tune progresses in the literal sense, they just start and get to where they're going by brute force. It's worse than ignorantly shallow music, it's arrogantly shallow music, so full of itself that it can't see it's own shortcomings.
.
this quote is an object lesson on why all opinions on gear slutz should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt...

bob, what's your idea of a tune that "progesses in the literal sense..."?
Old 17th June 2005
  #6
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doorknocker's Avatar
Aja is the culmination of Steely Dan, IMO. An almost impossible fusion of over-the-top perfectionism and raw groove. Raw? Yes, these tracks are built on serious,deep grooves.

Calling these tunes 'unprogressing' would be the same thing as calling say James Brown's 'Sex Machine' harmonically unchallenging. True in a academic way but totally missing the boat.

Every time i listen to 'Aja' I think maybe this is too slick and clever but it never fails to suck me in nevertheless.

And as for Fagan's voice: I doubt there would be any voice better suited to these lyrics. Steely Dan actually started out with a lead singer in tow, I think he's still there on some 'Can't buy a thrill' tracks.

Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
Old 17th June 2005
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doorknocker
Calling these tunes 'unprogressing' would be the same thing as calling say James Brown's 'Sex Machine' harmonically unchallenging. True in a academic way but totally missing the boat.
Yeah James Brown's music is way too repetitive too!

heh
Old 18th June 2005
  #8
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rlnyc's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by paultools
Yeah James Brown's music is way too repetitive too!

heh

not to hijack the thread, but just a funny bit to lighten it up some...

some years ago i was talking to fred wesley, james brown bandmember and sometimes musical director, and he told me a story...

after a show this white kid comes up to james brown. completely polite, he says, "mr. brown, that was great, but your guitar player stinks. he keeps playing the same thing over and over again and never changes... even I can play that!"

james brown looks at the kid and says, "all night long"?

best regards,
rlnyc
Old 18th June 2005
  #9
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Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Aja is a period peace that stands the test of time. The production and artform transcends time, but I agree that the music has become predictable after so many years. This is true of all music, but Aja does lack songs/stories that *grab you* and bring you back to where you were.

So as a music/filler type peace, like on a road trip it still works just fine. Awesome sound.

That being said, 'The Royal Scam' is by far my favorite Steely Dan record. It was made at the peak right before they switched gears in the direction of Aja. It has everything Aja does, including fabulous production and recording, but it is a collection of far more coherent, rockin' songs. I love them all.

Dig it out and give it a listen. You'll see what I mean.
Old 18th June 2005
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross
But the music is indefensibly arbitrary, so harmonically nebulous that it wreaks of infinite monkey syndrome. It's not quite as vapid as some current pop music where there's literally nothing going on; but in _Aja_ there's an awful lot of "information" going on that just cancels each other out, resulting in the equivalent of nothing. No tune progresses in the literal sense, they just start and get to where they're going by brute force. It's worse than ignorantly shallow music, it's arrogantly shallow music, so full of itself that it can't see it's own shortcomings.

And don't get me started on Fagen's voice.
I'ld be interested to see what you think "good" grooves are, too. Don't understand what you mean by "information cancelling itself out" Mebbe you're looking into it a bit too much? if so, that completely kills the point of groove and feel.

This is undeniably one of the BEST records to come from the mind of western musics. I don't even LISTEN to this kinda stuff generally, and it crosses boundaries.

Fagens voice? I dont think anyone could embody that era better than him. Maybe early Paul Simon (without Garfunk) No one else could've done that album.
Old 18th June 2005
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great
That being said, 'The Royal Scam' is by far my favorite Steely Dan record. It was made at the peak right before they switched gears in the direction of Aja. It has everything Aja does, including fabulous production and recording, but it is a collection of far more coherent, rockin' songs. I love them all.
Dunno about that. I think the vibe is more on a casual/"hey, man" basis...

"Down to Green st., there you go, looking so outrageous and they tell you so, you should know, how all the pros play the game, you change your name."

Thats as serious as it seems to get...
Old 18th June 2005
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Umlaaat
Dunno about that. I think the vibe is more on a casual/"hey, man" basis...

"Down to Green st., there you go, looking so outrageous and they tell you so, you should know, how all the pros play the game, you change your name."

Thats as serious as it seems to get...

What do you mean serious? Is rock and roll suppose to be serious?

Those songs always just make me smile. "even the preacher turned red"

I keep hearing how great AC/DC is, yet I still don't get it.

'You, shook my all night long. You really did... l.o.l.
Old 18th June 2005
  #13
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great
I keep hearing how great AC/DC is, yet I still don't get it.
Don't go there brother!
Walk back quietly without making a sound.
Old 18th June 2005
  #14
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Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by denial
Don't go there brother!
Walk back quietly without making a sound.

l.o.l.
Old 18th June 2005
  #15
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scotty-o's Avatar
 

Roger Nichols, Elliot Scheiner, Bill Shnee and Al Schmitt are all credited as engineers on Aja with Roger also being credited as "Executive Engineer"

A ton of Steely Dan records were done by Roger "The Immortal" Nichols.

-Scotty
Old 19th June 2005
  #16
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by soultrane
bob, what's your idea of a tune that "progesses in the literal sense..."?
The piece that immediately comes to mind is the Prelude from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.

Um, let's see, also "Sun King" by The Beatles, "A Million To One" by Jimmy Charles (or was that The Platters?), "Lookout For Hope" by The Bill Frisell Band, "San Jacinto" by Peter Gabriel, Bernstein & Sondheim's "Something's Coming" from West Side Story, "Turn Of The Century" by Yes ...maybe even "Wild Horses" by the Stones.


Quote:
Originally Posted by doorknocker
And as for Fagan's voice: I doubt there would be any voice better suited to these lyrics.
Just as a thought experiment, imagine Stevie Wonder or Rickie Lee Jones singing over those original Aja tracks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Umlaaat
I'ld be interested to see what you think "good" grooves are, too. Don't understand what you mean by "information cancelling itself out" Mebbe you're looking into it a bit too much? if so, that completely kills the point of groove and feel.
I think you misunderstand my complaint. I never said anything negative about "the grooves" on Aja; I think the grooves on Aja are killer. But to me "groove" refers to rhythmic placement; it's the funk, the pocket, the booty, the chicken grease. Hell yeah, Aja's groove has got back. But "groove" is something players do with a piece. My complaint had to do with what the songwriters came in with before the players got to it. The basic This Is The Melody, These Are The Chords, This Is The Form stuff...*that* is where I find Aja so empty.

Just as an aside, please note that I don't dislike Steely Dan per se, and in fact on some days I'd happily argue that "My Old School" is the greatest rock'n'roll tune ever. But Aja stands out for me specifically because the production is so strong and the songwriting is so weak.
Old 19th June 2005
  #17
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doorknocker's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross
Just as a thought experiment, imagine Stevie Wonder or Rickie Lee Jones singing over those original Aja tracks.
Stevie Wonder wouldn't touch these kinda lyrics with a 10-foot pole. In the same way that Fagen wouldn't touch 'Isn't she lovely' (But wait, now THAT'S a neat thought!)
Rickie Lee Jones surely could do a good job but what's the point? I simply meant that seperating Fagen's voice from the song/lyrics is a purely academic endeavour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross
I But "groove" is something players do with a piece. My complaint had to do with what the songwriters came in with before the players got to it. The basic This Is The Melody, These Are The Chords, This Is The Form stuff...*that* is where I find Aja so empty.
There's a certain truth there but it's also a question of how you define 'songwriting'. Again, James Brown is a good example: 'Sex Machine' is purely built on rhythm and riffs, it's DEFINITELY not suited for lounge orchestra or folk singers whereas most Beatles tunes still work in a simple guitar/voice/campfire way.

'Sex Machine' to me is still a hell of a song though, simply by its impact.
'Aja' is obviously way different but it nevertheless knocks me out as a 'total' experience.
Take the title song: It's almost ridiculously elaborate and it also doubles as a Steve Gadd drum clinic but I STILL love it.

To me, the problem started afterwards with 'Gaucho' (except 'babylon Sisters' maybe the greatest Steely Dan song IMO)

I would COMPLETELY agree with everything you said, should you mean the last 2 Steely Dan 'reunion' discs though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross
Just as an aside, please note that I don't dislike Steely Dan per se, and in fact on some days I'd happily argue that "My Old School" is the greatest rock'n'roll tune ever. But Aja stands out for me specifically because the production is so strong and the songwriting is so weak.
Following your own logic, the case could be made that 'My old school' is mainly a showcase for some of the best guitar playing I've heard (Jeff Baxter) and a very clever and rocking arrangement.

I mean, Larry Carlton's solo on 'Kid Charlemagne' is basically a song on its own and INSANELY good but isn't that a compliment to the songwriters/producers after all? Carlton or Baxter sounded that great here because they played on great songs and the players were chosen for their specific sound/contribution in much the same way that say, Ellington would write for his featured soloist.

Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
Old 19th June 2005
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross
The piece that immediately comes to mind is the Prelude from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.

Um, let's see, also "Sun King" by The Beatles, "A Million To One" by Jimmy Charles (or was that The Platters?), "Lookout For Hope" by The Bill Frisell Band, "San Jacinto" by Peter Gabriel, Bernstein & Sondheim's "Something's Coming" from West Side Story, "Turn Of The Century" by Yes ...maybe even "Wild Horses" by the Stones.


Just as a thought experiment, imagine Stevie Wonder or Rickie Lee Jones singing over those original Aja tracks.

Sorry Bob - I think the Dan stands alone. Go and see them and try to imagine anyone else singing. Stevie or Rickie Lee (or Frank Sinatra - imagine him on "Deacon Blues") would do a fantastic job, but there is something in Fagen's delivery that makes it happen (maybe it's the irony or that bittersweet tone). The last show I saw resulted in the most unusual thing I have ever seen at a rock concert - the silent standing ovation for Deacon Blues. They had been playing for well over an hour when they started the song, and bit by bit, the audience stood up until everyone was standing. The vibe was unlike anything I have experienced - it was all about respect and appreciation - had nothing to do with "I can't see so I better stand up." After all, you don't go to a Steely Dan concert for the show. You go for the music and the performance.

Maybe the songs on Aja didn't work for you - ok by me. None of our tastes are absolute, except for ourselves. Your list doesn't include any music I particularly care about, no offense whatsoever intended, but those pieces are obviously important to you. Who knows why we love what we love? The answers may have more to do with what is buried in our psyches.

Best....H
Old 19th June 2005
  #19
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soultrane's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross
The piece that immediately comes to mind is the Prelude from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.
wagner?

well, i did hear his music is better than it sounds...








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