Can't Buy a Thrill
|Can't Buy a Thrill|
|Studio album by Steely Dan|
|Recorded||The Village Recorder, Los Angeles|
|Genre||Soft rock, folk rock, pop|
|Steely Dan chronology|
|Singles from Can't Buy a Thrill|
Can't Buy a Thrill is the debut album by American rock band Steely Dan, released in November 1972 by ABC Records. It was produced by Gary Katz and written by band members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. The album was recorded at The Village Recorder in Los Angeles.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
The album was originally released in two-channel stereo and also in a special four-channel quadrophonic mix. There are some significant musical differences between the two mixes, such as extra lead guitar fills in the quad mix of "Reelin' in the Years".
The album cover features a line of prostitutes standing in a red light area waiting for clients, an image which was chosen because of its relevance to the album title. The cover was banned in Francisco Franco's Spain and was replaced with a photograph of the band playing in concert. The title is taken from a lyric in the Bob Dylan song "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" on Highway 61 Revisited. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen themselves commented on the album art in their liner notes to the reissued The Royal Scam, saying that album possessed "the most hideous album cover of the seventies, bar none (excepting perhaps Can't Buy a Thrill)."
Two songs recorded during the Can't Buy a Thrill sessions were left off the album and released as a single ("Dallas" and "Sail the Waterway"). This is the only Steely Dan album to include David Palmer as a lead vocalist, having been recruited after Donald Fagen expressed concerns over singing live. Drummer Jim Hodder also chips in lead vocals on one song, as well as singing the "Dallas" single. By the time recording of the next album began, the band and producer Gary Katz had convinced Fagen to assume the full lead vocalist role.
Music and lyrics
Can't Buy a Thrill features an upbeat soft rock style. Its music incorporates mambo, swing, jazz, and Latin musical elements. Pop songs such as "Dirty Work", "Kings", "Midnight Cruiser", and "Turn That Heartbeat Over Again" feature Palmer singing lead and lack the jazz flourishes that distinguished the band's subsequent albums. "Do It Again" incorporates a tight Latin jazz beat, while "Reelin' in the Years" features jazzy guitar solos and harmonies. The former song is toned-down mambo with tragic lyrics about a compulsive loser.
Can't Buy a Thrill was released in the United States by ABC Records in November 1972 and in the United Kingdom by Probe Records in January 1973. The album peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums, and was reissued on August 22, 1973, by Dunhill Records. On September 7, 1993, it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of 500,000 copies in the US.
In a contemporary review, James Isaacs of Rolling Stone found the album to be "distinguished by three top-level cuts and scattered moments of inspiration," but felt that the band was occasionally "limp". Robert Christgau of Creem gave it a "B+" and called it "a good album attached" to a hit single. He called the lyrics "oblique, even philosophical ... as befit a band named after a dildo in a William Burroughs novel." In a 1981 review, Christgau gave the album an "A" and stated, "Think of the Dan as the first post-boogie band: the beat swings more than it blasts or blisters, the chord changes defy our primitive subconscious expectations, and the lyrics underline their own difficulty—as well as the difficulty of the reality to which they refer—with arbitrary personal allusions, most of which are ruses."
In a retrospective review, Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album four-and-a-half out of five stars and wrote that the songs "subvert traditional conventions" and are "tightly constructed, with interlocking chords and gracefully interwoven melodies, buoyed by clever, cryptic lyrics." However, he critiqued that vocalist David Palmer "oversings the handful of tracks where he takes the lead", which caused Walter Becker and Donald Fagen to temper "their wildest impulses with mainstream pop techniques." Rob Sheffield, writing in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, gave it four out of five stars and complimented its "mellow folk rock", but felt that it is "softened" by Palmer, who "sounds like he's nervous about where his wallet is." BBC Music's Paul Lester said that it is so "fully-formed ... that you would scarcely believe that it's their debut", and observed "tightly constructed songs with dazzling hooks, clever, cryptic lyrics, and vocals that offer teasing critiques for those that want them." In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Can't Buy a Thrill number 238 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
- "Do It Again" – 5:56
- Electric sitar solo by Denny Dias
- Plastic organ solo by Donald Fagen
- "Dirty Work" – 3:08
- Saxophone solo by Jerome Richardson
- "Kings" – 3:45
- Guitar solo by Elliot Randall
- "Midnight Cruiser" – 4:08
- Guitar solo by Jeff Baxter
- "Only a Fool Would Say That" – 2:57
- Guitar solo by Jeff Baxter
- "Reelin' in the Years" – 4:37
- Guitar solos by Elliot Randall
- "Fire in the Hole" – 3:28
- Piano solo by Donald Fagen
- Pedal steel guitar solo by Jeff Baxter
- "Brooklyn (Owes the Charmer Under Me)" – 4:21
- Steel guitar solo by Jeff Baxter
- "Change of the Guard" – 3:39
- Guitar solo by Jeff Baxter
- "Turn That Heartbeat Over Again" – 4:58
- Steely Dan
- Donald Fagen - acoustic and electric pianos, plastic (YC-30) organ, lead vocals (except on "Dirty Work", "Midnite Cruiser", and "Brooklyn"), backing vocals
- Walter Becker - electric bass, backing vocals, dual lead vocal on "Turn That Heartbeat Over Again"
- Jeff "Skunk" Baxter - guitar, pedal steel guitar, spoken word on "Only a Fool Would Say That"
- Denny Dias - guitar, electric sitar
- Jim Hodder - drums, percussion, lead vocal on "Midnite Cruiser", backing vocals
- David Palmer - lead vocals on "Dirty Work" and "Brooklyn", backing vocals
- Session musicians
- Elliott Randall - guitar
- Jerome Richardson - tenor saxophone
- Snooky Young - flugelhorn
- Victor Feldman - percussion
- Venetta Fields - backing vocals on "Brooklyn" and "Kings"
- Clydie King - backing vocals on "Brooklyn" and "Kings"
- Sherlie Matthews - backing vocals on "Brooklyn" and "Kings"
- Producer: Gary Katz
- Engineer: Roger Nichols
- Assistant engineer: Tim Weston
- Cover Design: Robert Lockart
- Reissue producers: Walter Becker, Donald Fagen
- Remastering: Roger Nichols
- Art direction: Vartan
- Liner notes: Walter Becker, Tristan Fabriani, Donald Fagen
- Reissue design: Red Herring Design, New York City
- Consultant: Daniel Levitin
|1973||"Do It Again" (3:57 edit) (B-side: "Fire in the Hole")||ABC 11338||6|
|1973||"Reelin' In The Years" (B-side: "Only A Fool")||ABC 11352||11|
- Galen & Matthews 2007, p. 120.
- Sheffield et al. 2004, p. 778–89.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Can't Buy a Thrill - Steely Dan : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
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- "Steely Dan Reviews on Yahoo! Music". Music.Yahoo.com. 2006-09-11. Archived from the original on 2006-09-11. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- Andy Gill (1998). Don't Think Twice It's Alright. p. 85. ISBN 1-56025-185-9.
- Lester, Paul (February 19, 2012). "Review of Steely Dan - Can’t Buy a Thrill". BBC Music. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Christgau 1981, p. 370.
- Strong, Martin Charles (2004). The Great Rock Discography. Canongate U.S. p. 1449. ISBN 1841956155. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
- Can't Buy a Thrill - Steely Dan > Charts & Awards > Billboard Album at AllMusic. Retrieved 27 October 2004.
- "American album certifications – Steely Dan". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
- Isaacs, James (November 23, 1977). "Can't Buy a Thrill". Rolling Stone (New York). Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Christgau, Robert (April 1973). "The Christgau Consumer Guide". Creem. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) . "238 | Can't Buy a Thrill - Steely Dan". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Archived from the original on May 7, 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2006.
- Steely Dan > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved 27 October 2004.
- Christgau, Robert (October 13, 1981). Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0899190251.
- Galen, Marjorie; Matthews, Gordon (September 1, 2007). Legends of Rock. Dalmatian Press. ISBN 1403737193.
- Sheffield, Rob et al. (November 2, 2004). Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.