Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic [ABC, 1974]
This album sums up their chewy perversity as aptly as its title--all I could ask is a lyric sheet. "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" blends into AM radio with an intro appropriated from Horace Silver, while the other side-opener builds a joyous melody of Bird riffs underneath a lyric that invites one and all to "take a piece of Mr. Parker's band." The solos are functional rather than personal or expressive, locked into the workings of the music. And even when Donald Fagen's voice dominates as it comes out of the speakers it tends to sink into the mix in the mind's ear--recollected in tranquility, the vocals seem like the golden mean of pop ensemble singing, stripped of histrionics and displays of technique, almost . . . sincere, modest. Yeah, sure. A+