I tried bumping the old Steely Dan thread, but nada...I'm a total, full blown Steely Dan fan.
I was reading about "Gaucho."
I knew they had their issues with recording, but good lord.
Take some time to read that wiki link...
It really couldn't have been a blast playing with them.
1. "Gaucho is the seventh studio album by the American Jazz rock band Steely Dan, released in 1980. The sessions for Gaucho represented the peak of Steely Dan's recording studio perfectionism and obsessive recording technique. To record the album, the band used at least 42 different musicians, spent over a year in the studio, and far exceeded the original monetary advance given to the band by their record label."
2. "Exceptional difficulties plagued the album's production. By 1978, Donald $#@!en and Walter Becker had established themselves as the only two permanent members of Steely Dan, using a revolving cast of session musicians to record the songs they wrote together. However, the pair's working relationship began to strain, largely due to Becker's increasing drug use.
During the course of the Gaucho sessions, Becker was hit by a car while walking home late one Saturday night to his apartment on the Upper West Side. Becker managed to push the woman he was with out of harm's way, but sustained multiple fractures in one leg, a sprain in the other leg, as well as other injuries. During his six-month recovery, he suffered from secondary infections. While Becker was in the hospital, he and $#@!en continued their musical collaborations via telephone.
Becker's personal problems continued to mount when his girlfriend, Karen Roberta Stanley, died of a drug overdose at his home on January 30, 1980. Her family attempted to sue him for $17.5 million in January 1981, claiming that he had introduced the woman to cocaine, morphine, barbiturates, and heroin. The court later sided in Becker's favor."
3. "Recording sessions
With 1977's Aja, the duo had become accustomed to recording with Los Angeles-based session musicians; the transition back to using New York players during the Gaucho sessions proved difficult, as the musicians were unenthusiastic about Becker and $#@!en's obsessive, perfectionistic recording style. Sessions for Gaucho began in New York City during 1978.
$#@!en and Becker hired Mark Knopfler to play the guitar solo on "Time Out of Mind" after hearing him play on Dire Straits' hit single "Sultans of Swing." Several hours of Knopfler's playing were recorded at the session, but his contributions as heard on the record are limited to a matter of seconds.
The album's mixing sessions proved to be just as difficult as the recording sessions: it took Becker, $#@!en, Nichols and Katz over 55 tries to properly mix the 50-second fade out of "Babylon Sisters".
Even though the session players hired for Gaucho were amongst the most talented from both the East and West Coast session fraternities, $#@!en and Becker were still not satisfied with the basic tracks for some of the songs, particularly with regard to the timing of the drum tracks. In a 2006 interview for SOS Magazine, Donald $#@!en stated that he and Becker told recording engineer Roger Nichols:
"'It's too bad that we can't get a machine to play the beat we want, with full-frequency drum sounds, and to be able to move the snare drum and kick drum around independently.' Nichols replied 'I can do that.' This was back in 1978 or something, so we said 'You can do that???' To which he said 'Yes, all I need is $150,000.' So we gave him the money out of our recording budget, and six weeks later he came in with this machine and that is how it all started."
According to Ken Micaleff in an article in Modern Drummer, the title song's drum track was assembled from 46 different takes. The drummer on the session, Jeff Porcaro, is quoted as saying:
"From noon till six we'd play the tune over and over and over again, nailing each part. We'd go to dinner and come back and start recording. They made everybody play like their life depended on it. But they weren't gonna keep anything anyone else played that night, no matter how tight it was. All they were going for was the drum track."
It must be hard when you're that good, to create something, "new."
On a sidenote, I like "The Royal Scam," more than "Aja."