Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Countdown To Ecstasy: Steely Dan Guitar Solos Part 3

Part 3, and the conclusion of our series:  Part 1, Part 2

6.  Your Gold Teeth II (Denny Dias)

Throw out your gold teeth
And see how they roll
The answer they reveal
Life is unreal

Floating, almost ethereal, guitar from Mr Dias in some pretty weird time signatures.

5.  Reelin' In The Years (Elliot Randall)

The Dan's second hit single (following Do It Again) and its first memorable guitar solo.  The story most often told is that after Baxter and Dias laid down the rhythm guitars they could not nail a solo.  Elliot Randall happened to drop by the studio (he was a childhood friend of Skunk Baxter) and they suggested he take a shot at the lead and supposedly he came up with the multiple solos on the first take.

, Randall turned down an invitation from Becker and Fagan to become a member of Steely Dan though he played on several of their albums.  He was well known for turning down such offers, also declining an invitation from John Belushi to be musical director for The Blues Brothers and to be a founding member of Toto.  Along with playing on a zillion studio sessions for everyone he's played, produced and written jingles for a wide range of business clients including Coca-Cola, Miller Beer, Burger King, MTV and Proctor & Gamble.

4.  Sign in Stranger (Elliot Randall)

And who are you?
Just another scurvy brother

Four years later, Randall returned for the guitar track on this tune.  It's a call and response with some nice keyboard interplay.  Some of the guitar work is very humorous and it's another one where you want to listen right to the end.

3.  My Old School (Skunk Baxter)

Sputtering, staccato phrasing that starts out terrific and gets even better as it goes along.  Listen to the last licks as it fades out.

2.  Kid Charlemagne (Larry Carlton)
Now your patrons have all left you in the red
Your low rent friends are dead
This life can be very strange
Perfect guitar tone and phrasing at the break and in the closing.  During the 1970s and 80s, Carlton played on up to 500 recordings a year.  Along with numerous Dan appearances he also recorded with Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand among others.

1.  Bodhisattva (Dias/Baxter)

Sorting out which solos to include in the Top 12 and how to rank #'s 12 through 2 were tough and THC would not argue with anyone ranking them differently or moving any of the Honorables up to the Top 12 but deciding on #1 was the easiest part of this exercise which should come as no surprise if you'd read THC's prior post on this song.  Simply amazing guitar solo by Denny Dias in the extended break and great work by Skunk Baxter on the closing.

If you were keeping track both Skunk Baxter and Denny Dias appear 4 times in the Top 12 (that is, if Baxter is the soloist on Night By Night).  They had very contrasting styles with Baxter being the rocker and Dias the jazz guitarist.   Dias was there at the start.  According to Wikipedia, in the summer of 1970 he had a band in Long Island and placed an ad in the Village Voice reading "Looking for keyboardist and bassist. Must have jazz chops! Assholes need not apply".  Becker and Fagen responded and the band quickly began playing their material.  Dias fired the rest of the group and the remaining three became Steely Dan.  Dias remains a respected jazz guitarist and again according to Wikipedia is currently a computer programmer in L.A.


  1. You've captured my favorite Dan tunes. Except I've never been able to get into Bodhisattva. I'll give it another try. - GH

  2. No Steve Khan? Preposterous. Glamour Profession for instance...