|Studio album by Steely Dan|
|Released||September 23, 1977|
|Recorded||January – July 1977; at
Village Recorders, West L.A.;
Producer's Workshop, Hollywood;
Warner Bros. North Hollywood recording studios, (Burbank);
ABC recording studios, (N.Y.C.);
Sound Labs, Hollywood;
A&R studios, (Manhattan) N.Y.C.
|Steely Dan chronology|
Aja (//, pronounced like Asia) is the sixth album by the jazz rock band Steely Dan. Originally released in 1977 on ABC Records, it became the group's best-selling album. Peaking at No. 3 on the U.S. charts and No. 5 in the United Kingdom, it was the band's first platinum album, eventually selling over 5 million copies. In July 1978, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording. In 2003, the album was ranked number 145 on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.
Donald Fagen has said the title of the album comes from the name of a Korean woman who married the brother of a high-school friend of his. The cover photo by Hideki Fujii features Japanese model/actress Sayoko Yamaguchi.
Aja is the subject of one of the Classic Albums, a series of documentaries about the making of famous albums. The documentary includes a song-by-song study of the album (the only omission being "I Got the News," which is played during the closing credits), interviews with Steely Dan co-founders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen (among others) plus new, live-in-studio versions of songs from the album. Becker and Fagen also play back several of the rejected guitar solos for "Peg," which were recorded before Jay Graydon produced the satisfactory take.
When DTS attempted to make a 5.1 version, it was discovered that the multitrack masters for both "Black Cow" and the title track were missing. For this same reason, a multichannel SACD version was cancelled by Universal Music. Donald Fagen has offered a $600 reward for the missing masters or any information that leads to their recovery.
On April 6, 2011, the album was deemed by the Library of Congress to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" and added to the United States National Recording Registry for the year 2010.
The sessions for Aja produced several outtakes, including "You Got the Bear". The song was never officially released, but would later be played live on their 2011 Shuffle Diplomacy tour.
|Drowned in Sound||10/10|
|Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
Summarising the style of the band at the time the album was released, music critic Andy Gill said: "Jazz-rock was a fundamental part of the 70s musical landscape.. but Steely Dan weren't a band of rock or pop music with ideas above its station, and it wasn't jazzers slumming... it was a very well-forged alloy of the two - you couldn't separate the jazz music from the pop in their music."
Describing the album in 1999, British musician Ian Dury said: "Well, Aja's got a sound that lifts your heart up.. and it's the most consistent up-full, heart-warming.. even though, it is a classic LA kinda sound. You wouldn't think it was recorded anywhere else in the world. It's got California through its blood, even though they are boys from New York.. It's a record that sends my spirits up, and really when I listen to music, really that's what I want."
Analyzing the band's song-writing style, Dury said: "They've got a skill that can make images that aren't puerile and don't make you think you've heard it before... very "Hollywood filmic" in a way, the imagery is very imaginable, in a visual sense" and of their musical style: "Parker, Mingus, Blakey, I can hear in there.. Jazz Messengers I can hear in there, Bobby Timmons... the subject matter doesn't matter, it's the sound they're making." 
All songs written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
- Side one
- "Black Cow" – 5:10
- "Aja" – 7:57
- "Deacon Blues" – 7:37
- Side two
- "Peg" – 3:57
- "Home at Last" – 5:34
- "I Got the News" – 5:06
- "Josie" – 4:33
- Donald Fagen – synthesizer, keyboards, vocals, background vocals, whistle
- Walter Becker – bass, guitar
- Chuck Rainey – bass
- Timothy B. Schmit – background vocals
- Paul Griffin – keyboards, electric piano, vocals, background vocals
- Don Grolnick – keyboards, clavinet
- Michael Omartian – piano, keyboards
- Joe Sample – keyboards, electric piano, clavinet
- Victor Feldman – percussion, piano, keyboards, electric piano, vibraphone
- Larry Carlton – guitar
- Denny Dias – guitar
- Jay Graydon – guitar
- Steve Khan – guitar
- Dean Parks – guitar
- Lee Ritenour – guitar
- Pete Christlieb – flute, tenor saxophone
- Chuck Findley – horn, brass
- Jim Horn – flute, saxophone
- Richard "Slyde" Hyde – trombone
- Plas Johnson – flute, saxophone
- Jackie Kelso – flute, horn, saxophone
- Lou McCreary – brass
- Bill Perkins – flute, horn, saxophone
- Tom Scott – conductor, flute, tenor saxophone, lyricon
- Wayne Shorter – flute, tenor saxophone
- Bernard Purdie – drums ("Home at Last", "Deacon Blues")
- Steve Gadd – drums ("Aja")
- Ed Greene – drums ("I Got the News")
- Paul Humphrey – drums ("Black Cow")
- Jim Keltner – percussion, drums ("Josie")
- Rick Marotta – drums ("Peg")
- Gary Coleman – percussion
- Venetta Fields – background vocals
- Clydie King – background vocals
- Rebecca Louis – background vocals
- Sherlie Matthews – background vocals
- Michael McDonald – background vocals
- Executive Producer: Stephen Diener [ABC Records]
- Producer: Gary Katz
- Engineers: Roger Nichols, Elliot Scheiner, Al Schmitt, Bill Schnee
- Assistant engineers: Joe Bellamy, Lenise Bent, Ken Klinger, Ron Pangaliman, Ed Rack, Linda Tyler
- Mastering: Bernie Grundman
- Production coordination: Barbara Miller
- Sound consultant: Dinky Dawson
- Consultant: Daniel Levitin
- Horn arrangements: Tom Scott
- Art direction: Vartan Reissue
- Design: Geoff Westen
- Photography: Hideki Fujii (cover photo), Walter Becker
- Liner notes: Walter Becker, Donald Fagen
- Reissue coordination: Beth Stempel
|Year||Single||Label & number||Position|
|1978||"Peg" (B-side: "I Got the News")||ABC 12320||11|
|1978||"Deacon Blues" (B-side: "Home at Last")||ABC 12355||19|
|1978||"Josie" (B-side: "Black Cow")||ABC 12404||26|
|1977||Aja||Best Engineered Recording, Non Classical|
- Crowe, Cameron (December 29, 1977). "Steely Dan Springs Back: The Second Coming". Rolling Stone (New York City: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc.) (#255): 11. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
- Classic Albums: Steely Dan - Aja (Video 1999), Directed by Alan Lewins, Eagle Rock Entertainment, ASIN: 6305772649 
- "http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/album-cover-of-the-week-aja". Retrieved September 9, 2008.
- Steely Dan: Reelin in the Years by Brian Sweet – page 130
- "http://www.broberg.pp.se/sd_aja.htm". Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved May 13, 2009.
- National Recording Preservation Board, 2010 Selections
- Baltin, Steve (July 9, 2011). "Steely Dan at the Greek Theater: Concert Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Aja review allmusic.com. Retrieved on July 3, 2011.
- Easley, Daryl. BBC Music review 2011-08-09.
- Christgau, Robert (October 31, 1977). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- Jonathan Rawcliffe. Drowned in Sound review 2001-11-25.
- Q June 2000, p.131
- Duffy, Michael. Aja review 1977-12-01. Retrieved on July 3, 2011.
- Sputnikmusic review
- Steely Dan: Aja
- Complete Lyrics
- Promotional Video, courtesy of The Museum of Classic Chicago Television
- "Classic Albums: Aja by Steely Dan 1977" on YouTube