Listening in Depth to The Dan’s One True Rock Album

More of the Music of Steely Dan

Reviews and Commentaries for Countdown to Ecstasy

This is the only Steely Dan album recorded with a working live band.

One of the most important qualities we look for in a Hot Stamper copy is the ability to convey the fun and energy of these seriously hard-rockin’ sessions.


Side One

Razor Boy

This is the track I use to judge side one. Almost every copy you come across has grainy vocals, if there are any highs at all. This is true for the entire album, but it’s especially noticeable on this track. When the vocals are clear, smooth and sweet, or at least as clear, smooth and sweet as one can hope for, you are playing a good copy. Consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

That’s if there’s bass. This is a rock record, and rock records, like all records, need bass. If the vocals on this track are right and the bass is good, you might actually have a winner.

Also listen to how clear and solid the piano and vibes are underneath the vocals. On the best copies their contributions are easy to follow and really provide support in the lower registers for the vocals above them. If on your copy they’re a murky mess don’t be surprised; that’s pretty much the way they sound on most copies. (They’re a good test for the quality of your reproduction from the mid-bass up through the lower midrange.)

The Boston Rag
Your Gold Teeth

Side Two

Show Biz Kids

On every copy we’ve ever played this track is cut substantially louder than those that follow. It also has a “jumping out of the speakers” quality that’s hard to find on the next three tracks. As a Demo Track it would seem to be the best one on the album. As a test track, since it seems to sound good on so many otherwise mediocre copies, it’s practically useless.

My Old School

The female background singers who make up the chorus on My Old School sound different on every copy you play. When they sound right you’ll know it immediately. The copies with clarity and energy always seem to also have a wonderful “sing along” quality that lets the music really come to life. We didn’t hear it happen too often but when it does it’s a THRILL, one you can buy.

Pearl of the Quarter
King of the World

There’s a lot going on in the chorus here, and the average copy suffers badly from congestion. If the copy you have on the turntable doesn’t have much extension up top you can forget about this track sounding any good.