Since the release of Can’t Buy A Thrill in 1972, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker has represented Steely Dan as the band’s chief components. After the all too brief tenure of Steely Dan, which effectively ended in 2003 with the issuance of Everything Must Go, only Fagen and Becker have recorded and individually at that.

Can’t Buy A Thrill provided the he wonderful “Reeling In The Years” (loved by me to this day), and the equally excellent “Do It Again“. The following albums, Countdown To Ecstasy (1973); Pretzel Logic (1974); Katy Lied (1975); The Royal Scam (1976); Aja (1977); Gaucho (1980); and the rejoined Two Against Nature (2000), and the previously mentioned shop-closer, Everything Must Go, were , for the most part, great works from a great set of songwriters and performers.

What remains of Steely Dan are warm memories, and a grand selection that is revered by many fans today. Which brings us to the inevitable TAP tradition of polling to find the great representing album that says Steely Dan in completeness.


By MARowe

22 thoughts on “Poll: Best Steely Dan Album”
  1. I’d have to go with “Aja” as well although my two favorite songs by SD are “Show Biz Kids” and “Kid Charlemagne” neither of which are actually on “Aja”.

  2. “Aja” is the obvious pick – it’s the peak of everything they’d built up to then.
    But if the question is what’s my favourite, I’d have to throw a vote for “The Royal Scam”.

  3. As far as representing the original 5 piece band’s chops, I’d say “Countdown To Ecstasy”does the best. Hard to beat an album that opens with the brilliant ‘Bodhissatva’ and maintains the quality throughout.

  4. Aja.
    Nothing else in the SD catalog comes close.

    Having said that, The Royal Scam and Katy Lied are both outstanding albums. Were it not for Aja being head and shoulders above everything else, I would be hard pressed to choose between those two.

  5. My favorite song is Royal Scam, but i don’t have a favorite album each has it own quality to it.

  6. I can’t believe no-one has picked Pretzel Logic. Any album that includes “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”, “Night By Night” and the title track almost picks itself. Actually I think they have probably the most complete catalogue of any band – nothing disappoints.

  7. Can’t Buy a Thrill is my personal favorite since it was the first album I bought by them. I remember hearing “Reeling in the Years” on the radio and making sure I went out and bought that album that day. I also love the song “Dirty Work”. Aja still hasn’t clicked for me and I still don’t understand why it’s so popular; might have something to do with not living during the 70s.

  8. Personally I think Can’t Buy A Thrill has the most nostalgic value to me but I think Pretzel Logic is their finest work musically. But all their albums are worth owning.


  9. I have a personal love for Countdown To Ecstasy, although I will heartily agree that Fagen & Becker definitely hit their creative peak with Aja. All of their albums are deeply etched in my brain, with the exception of Everything Must Go which I found rather subpar. (It’s probably great if the listener is a blues fan, which I am not.)

  10. Hate to follow the masses, but it’s got to be Aja. Deacon Blue is the best song they (or probably anyone else) ever did. Wayne Shorter blows me away on Aja too, Pretzel Logic and Gaucho are close followers but I do love them all.

  11. To me, you could phrase it like “Other than Sgt. Pepper, which Beatles…” So besides Aja, which SD album? Well, then put me down for Royal Scam as my fave besides Aja. Royal Scam was filled with music that set it aside from the rest in 1977. So with the next year, we get Aja. This one had it all for me, including a piano gloss black album sleeve that always resided at the end of record of my collection. I must have owned Aja in every format except open reel, and wax cylinder since it was released. And I will keep buying it. Always hoping to see the sticker saying “NOW W/PREVOUSLY UNRELEASED 8TH TRACK!”

  12. My favorite album is The Royal Scam. But Aja and Katy Lied come REAL close behind.

  13. Aja if for no other reason than Steve Gadd’s drumming on the title track!

  14. Aja. Talk about a perfect album. And Deacon Blue is the song. Sounds like most everyone here relates to “I want a name when I lose”. Besides, you have the amazing drumming of Steve Gadd on the title track (the ride cymbals on the outro floor me every time) and the pureness of the message in Home at Last… for a band that did everything right, Aja is an album that is miles ahead of the rest of their catalog. Anyone remember how the track listing for the cassette differed from the album and cd:

    2.Deacon Blues
    3. Josie
    4. Black Cow
    5. I Got The News
    6. Peg
    7. Home At Last

    Really different experience that way…

  15. Would it be cheating to say Citizen Steely Dan?…OK, it has to be Can’t Buy a Thrill. I have an impression that some of us who were introduced to Steely Dan one album at a time, as they were released, tend toward the earlier material, and those who discovered (or weren’t born yet!) Steely Dan later tend toward Aja and The Royal Scam. I’m one of the former, and the unique sound of Steely Dan introduced on Can’t Buy a Thrill has never worn off. Plus it has more of my favorite Steely Dan songs on it than the others :-), although, by a verrrry narrow margin, Show Biz Kids is my favorite song.

  16. Royal Scam. The hired guns on guitar were still allowed to play with a rock and roll edge and the overall tone of the album was cynical and very representative of the times. Wallybrysonrickenbacker you are dead on about Steve Gadd — he makes that song! Now I have to go listen to Side 3…and it’s your fault

  17. Kay Lied for me, as the group’s most consistently great album. The title track is my favorite from the Dan.

  18. I don’t care if its the obvious pick, I’m going Aja. Sonically perfect album. But you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Put the entire catalog on shuffle and you won’t find a radical shift in quality anywhere, nothing will sound out of place.

    As for favorite song, for me its always been “Home At Last”.

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