Steely Dan

MCA, 1982

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Upon first listening to Gold, the first "posthumous" release from Steely Dan (that is, until their reunion in the '90s), I found myself asking, "What was the purpose of this disc?"

Originally released with only eight songs (which is the version I'm working off of) and later expanded to 12 (including two solo tracks from Donald Fagen), this disc eventually seems to be an add-on to the 1979 release Steely Dan's Greatest Hits, tacking on additional selections from Gauchomy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 (which hadn't been released at that time), Aja and a few other of the earlier albums.

Now, had these tracks been worked into Steely Dan's Greatest Hits, the whole thing would have probably melted together into a very enjoyable album. But, on its own, Gold, despite having some great tracks, feels like a totally unnecessary release.

Come on, anyone who was thinking about picking this disc up undoubtedly had Aja and Gaucho in their collections; buying a disc whose eight tracks included five from those two albums (or, in the case of "FM", from that period) smacks of overkill. Admittedly, I never get tired of hearing "Hey Nineteen," "Black Cow" or "Deacon Blues," so I guess getting another chance to hear these tracks is worth it minimally. (If I really want to get snippy, though, I could whine about why "Black Cow" and "Deacon Blues" weren't on the Greatest Hits set.)

The fact that lesser tracks from The Royal Scam ("Green Earrings"), Katy Lied ("Chain Lightning") and Countdown To Ecstasy ("King Of The World") are included on this makes Gold feel even more like a filler piece, or merely an add-on to Greatest Hits. If anything, maybe this was the label's way of dealing with the then-recent decision by Steely Dan (or, more correctly, Fagen and Walter Becker, the brain-powers behind the band) to call it a day. Whatever the reason, this disc smacks of greedy marketing.

If the label did anything wrong, it rushed Gold out too early; in three years' time, A Decade Of Steely Dan, one of the first compilation CDs (according to All-Music Guide) to hit the market, would be the de-facto best-of collection, making Gold that much more unnecessary. The only reason I choose to mark it as high as I do is for the presence of three of Steely Dan's best songs in their catalog. Other than that, Gold is less of a greatest hits package than it is a marketing release of fool's gold.

Rating: C+

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