Records That Made History

Steely Dan – Can’t Buy a Thrill

todayMay 18, 2024 18

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In 1972, Steely Dan released Can’t Buy a Thrill. It’s just their first step and their unique style is already ready. The album clearly foreshadows what was to follow in the years to come.

The sound is bright and hard, with a music that has its own perfect aesthetic, well-crafted and calculated down to the smallest detail. The key changes in the melodies, although governed by an unprecedented primitiveness, are barely perceptible. Beneath the seemingly calm pop melodic surface, there are amazing solos, not so much personal or expressive as functional for the whole structure of the tracks.

The beat is not explosive, it is not loud and it is not pompous. It’s an endless bone-crunching pagan swing. The flow of the tracks is disrupted and interrupted by elliptical jazzy rhythms and boogie-woogie. The orchestrations are amazing and everything seems to work to perfection and that was only the beginning, there isn’t a bad track here, everything ranges from very good to masterpiece. Apart from that, all the musicians are not part of the group but are sessionmen. First time routine studio professionals managed to sound like this.

And that’s something Steely Dan mainstays Donald Feigen and Walter Becker would achieve on all their subsequent LPs. Feigen is not the singer yet, he will take over from the very next album. Here on vocals we have David Palmer.

Tradition, lyricism, inspiration and experimentation in all their glory. That’s what Can’t Buy a Thrill is, a masterpiece of the kind that is increasingly rare these days.

Through this album we will hear the amazing “Do It Again”.


1. Do It Again 5:56
2. Dirty Work 3:08
3. Kings 3:45
4. Midnite Cruiser 4:09
5. Only A Fool Would Say That 2:54
6. Reelin’ In The Years 4:35
7. Fire In The Hole 3:26
8. Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me) 4:20
9. Change Of The Guard 3:28
10. Turn That Heartbeat Over Again 4:58

Written by: Dimitris Sigalos

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