Can't Buy a Thrill
|Can't Buy a Thrill|
|Studio album by|
|Studio||The Village Recorder, Los Angeles|
|Steely Dan chronology|
|Singles from Can't Buy a Thrill|
Can't Buy a Thrill is the debut studio album by the American rock band Steely Dan, released in November 1972 by ABC Records. It was produced by Gary Katz and written by band members Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. The album was recorded at The Village Recorder in Los Angeles.
Two songs recorded during the Can't Buy a Thrill sessions were left off the album and released as singles ("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, "Midnite Cruiser", 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
According to writers Marjorie Galen and Gordon Matthews, Can't Buy a Thrill features an upbeat soft rock style. Music journalist Paul Lester said that it incorporates mambo, swing, jazz, and Latin musical elements. Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted that "there are very few of the jazz flourishes that came to distinguish their [later] albums", but added that the first single from the album, "Do It Again", incorporates a tight Latin jazz beat, while the second single, "Reelin' In the Years", features jazzy guitar solos and harmonies. Robert Christgau described the former song as a toned-down mambo song with "tragic" lyrics about a "compulsive" loser.
"Fire in the Hole", which features strident piano by Fagen, takes its title from a phrase used by American soldiers in Vietnam, and alludes to how so many students evaded the draft in the late 1960s and early 1970s (Becker and Fagen included).
The album cover features a photomontage by Robert Lockart. It includes an image of a line of prostitutes, standing in a red light area from Rouen, Normandy (France) waiting for clients, chosen because of its relevance to the album title. The title of the album is taken in reference to the opening line of the Bob Dylan song "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry". Walter Becker and Donald Fagen themselves commented on the album art in their liner notes to the reissued The Royal Scam, saying that that album possessed "the most hideous album cover of the seventies, bar none (excepting perhaps Can't Buy a Thrill)." The cover was banned in Francisco Franco's Spain and was replaced with a photograph of the band playing in concert.
Release and reception
|Christgau's Record Guide||A|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Great Rock Discography||8/10|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
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 May 31, 1973, it was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of 500,000 copies in the US, then certified platinum by RIAA on September 7, 1993, for shipments of 1,000,000 copies in the US. In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, James Isaacs said Can't Buy a Thrill is "distinguished by three top-level cuts and scattered moments of inspiration," but felt the band occasionally sounded "limp". Christgau deemed it "a good album attached" to a hit single in his review for Creem; he found the lyrics "oblique, even philosophical ... as befit a band named after a dildo in a William S. Burroughs novel."
In Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Christgau said, "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 for AllMusic, Erlewine said 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." Writing for BBC Music, Paul Lester said the album was 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 2000 it was voted number 207 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Can't Buy a Thrill number 238 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and 240 in a 2012 revised list. Rob Sheffield was less impressed in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), regarding the record as "mellow folk rock" that was "softened" by Palmer, who "sounds like he's nervous about where his wallet is".
|1.||"Do It Again"||Fagen||5:56|
|5.||"Only a Fool Would Say That"||Fagen with Palmer||2:57|
|6.||"Reelin' In the Years"||Fagen||4:37|
|7.||"Fire in the Hole"||Fagen||3:28|
|8.||"Brooklyn (Owes the Charmer Under Me)"||Palmer||4:21|
|9.||"Change of the Guard"||Fagen with Palmer||3:39|
|10.||"Turn That Heartbeat Over Again"||Fagen with Palmer and Becker||4:58|
- David Palmer – lead vocals on "Dirty Work" and "Brooklyn", backing vocals
- Donald Fagen – acoustic and electric pianos, plastic (YC-30) organ, lead vocals (except on "Dirty Work", "Midnite Cruiser", and "Brooklyn"), backing vocals
- Jeff "Skunk" Baxter – guitar, pedal steel guitar, spoken word on "Only a Fool Would Say That"
- Denny Dias – guitar, electric sitar
- Walter Becker – electric bass, backing vocals, dual lead vocal on "Turn That Heartbeat Over Again"
- Jim Hodder – drums, percussion, lead vocal on "Midnite Cruiser", backing vocals
- Elliott Randall – lead guitar on "Kings" and "Reelin in the Years"
- Jerome Richardson – tenor saxophone
- Snooky Young – flugelhorn
- Victor Feldman – percussion
- Venetta Fields, Clydie King, 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: Tristan Fabriani (Walter Becker & 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 Would Say That")||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.
- "Can't Buy A Thrill CD". Rakuten.com. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
- Lester, Paul (February 19, 2012). "Review of Steely Dan - Can't Buy a Thrill". BBC Music. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Christgau 1981, p. 370.
- Sweet, B. (2007) Steely Dan: Reelin' In The Years, Chapter II: Shuffling Up Your Downs, Wise Publications; 3rd ed., ISBN 978-1846-09881-9
- "Steely Dan Reviews on Yahoo! Music". Music.Yahoo.com. 2006-09-11. Archived from the original on 2006-09-11. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
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- Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: S". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 9, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
- Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0857125958.
- "Can't Buy a Thrill". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
- Geffen, Sasha (November 20, 2019). "Steely Dan: Can't Buy a Thrill". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
- Strong, Martin Charles (2004). The Great Rock Discography. Canongate U.S. p. 1449. ISBN 1841956155. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
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- "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.
- Colin Larkin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 102. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
- 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 February 5, 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2006.
- "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
- "Steely Dan Chart History: Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
- 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.