|Studio album by Steely Dan|
|Released||September 23, 1977|
|Recorded||January to July 1977;
at the Village Recorder, West Los Angeles, California;
Producer's Workshop, Hollywood;
Warner Bros studios, Burbank;
ABC recording studios, N.Y.C.;
Sound Labs, Hollywood;
A&R studios, Manhattan
|Steely Dan chronology|
|Singles from Aja|
"Home at Last"
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 inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and ranked number 145 on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list. It is widely regarded as one of the best test recordings for audiophiles because of its high production standards.
Donald Fagen has said the album was named for a Korean woman who married the brother of one of his high-school friends. The cover photo by Hideki Fujii features Japanese model and actress Sayoko Yamaguchi.
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.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||B+|
Summarising the style of the band at the time Aja was released, music critic Andy Gill said in retrospect: "Jazz-rock was a fundamental part of the 70s musical landscape.. [Steely Dan] wasn't 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 pop music from the jazz in their music." In a contemporary review of the album, Rolling Stone critic Michael Duffy felt that "the conceptual framework of their music has shifted from the pretext of rock & roll toward a smoother, awesomely clean and calculated mutation of various rock, pop and jazz idioms", while their lyrics "remain as pleasantly obtuse and cynical as ever". Duffy added that while the duo's "extreme intellectual self-consciousness" was beginning to show its limitations, the latter "may be precisely the quality that makes Walter Becker and Donald Fagen the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies." Robert Christgau of The Village Voice initially "hated" the record before he "realized that, unlike The Royal Scam, it was stretching me some", while noting that he was "grateful to find Fagen and Becker's collegiate cynicism in decline".
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."
In 2010 the Library of Congress selected Aja for inclusion in the United States National Recording Registry based on its cultural, artistic or historical significance. The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
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.
The sessions for Aja produced several outtakes, including "The Bear". The song was never officially released, but would later be played live on their 2011 Shuffle Diplomacy tour.
All songs written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
|5.||"Home at Last"||5:34|
|6.||"I Got the News"||5:06|
- Donald Fagen – lead vocals (all tracks), synthesizer (all tracks but 4), police whistle (2), backing vocals (2, 5, 7)
- Walter Becker – bass (3), guitar (2), guitar solos (5, 6, 7)
- Victor Feldman – electric piano (1, 3, 7), vibraphone (5, 6), piano (5, 6), percussion (2, 4)
- Joe Sample – electric piano (2), Hohner Clavinet (1)
- Paul Griffin – electric piano (4), backing vocals (4)
- Michael Omartian – piano (2)
- Don Grolnick – Hohner Clavinet (4)
- Larry Carlton – guitar (1, 2, 3, 5, 7), guitar solo (6)
- Lee Ritenour - guitar (3)
- Denny Dias (2), Dean Parks (3, 6, 7), Steve Khan (4) – guitar
- Jay Graydon – solo guitar (4)
- Chuck Rainey – bass (all but 3)
- Paul Humphrey (1), Steve Gadd (2), Bernard Purdie (3, 5), Rick Marotta (4), Ed Greene (6) – drums
- Jim Keltner – drums (7), percussion (7)
- Gary Coleman – percussion (4)
- Tom Scott – tenor saxophone (1), Lyricon (4), horn arrangements
- Wayne Shorter (2), Pete Christlieb (3) – tenor saxophone
- Jim Horn, Bill Perkins, Plas Johnson, Jackie Kelso – saxes/flutes
- Chuck Findley, Lou McCreary, Slyde Hyde – brass
- Michael McDonald (4, 6), Timothy B. Schmit (2, 5, 7), Clydie King (1, 3, 6), Sherlie Matthews (1, 3, 6), Venetta Fields (1, 3, 6), Rebecca Louis (1, 6) – backing 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
|1977||Aja||Best Engineered Recording, Non Classical|
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- Christgau, Robert (October 31, 1977). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- Duffy, Michael (December 1, 1977). "Steely Dan: Aja". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- "Complete National Recording Registry Listing - National Recording Preservation Board | Programs | Library of Congress". Loc.gov. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- National Recording Preservation Board, 2010 Selections
- Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
- Baltin, Steve (July 9, 2011). "Steely Dan at the Greek Theater: Concert Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "Steely Dan - Aja (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- Liner notes to the digitally remastered edition
- "Aja Album". Broberg.pp.se. Retrieved November 8, 2015.