On September 3rd 2017, it was announced that the legendary Walter Becker had passed away.
The multi-instrumentalist and record producer will always be best known as an integral part of westcoast rock/jazz-rock trailblazers Steely Dan. Taking in various elements of rock pop and jazz, brought to life in the studio and in the live setting by a crack team of session players – including Michael McDonald, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Toto’s Steve Lukather and countless others – few had equalled the perfectionist sound of Steely Dan.
It’s almost as if you could pick up the needle and drop it at any point on any of the studio recordings issued between 1973 and 1980 and instantly be immersed in multi-layered perfection: the heady grooves of ‘Josie’, the harmonies of ‘Peg’, the sly humour of ‘Your Gold Teeth’ or the jazzy quirk of ‘Throw Back The Little Ones’…the Steely Dan catalogue, while much smaller than the Greatful Dead or Allman Brothers stands as the ultimate tribute to American rock and pop – the gift that just keeps on giving.
Even their comeback album, ‘Two Against Nature’ released at the beginning of a new millennium, marked the end of a twenty year studio hiatus for the band and it was almost as if no time had passed. The album showed off wall-to-wall jazz-rock chops, with arrangements and a sly humour that could’ve just as easily filled their ‘Katy Lied’ album. The final Dan record, ‘Everything Must Go’ from 2006 was never as immediate, but the fact that the album was good rather than great said far more about the high quality of previous works than anything else.
Steely Dan toured the US throughout 2016 and 2017 and were due to appear in London in October, their first visit in a decade.
The influence of the band can be heard in many places, but the Dan’s talents remain unsurpassed.
Real Gone remembers Walter Becker by delving into a few archive live recordings below. Join us…won’t you?