DONALD FAGEN The Nightfly LP

DONALD FAGEN The Nightfly LP

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Audiophile Favorite Back on 180g Vinyl LP!

Donald Fagen's largely autobiographical The Nightfly remains one of the best-sounding albums ever made. Revered by audiophiles, the Steely Dan co-founder's 1982 set immediately became a demonstration disc the world over. Painstakingly recorded over eight months by producer Gary Katz and engineers Roger Nichols and Elliot Scheiner, The Nightfly endures as a rare trifecta of superlative performance, consummate songwriting, and crisp, benchmark production.

Nominated for seven Grammy Awards, The Nightfly "represent[s] certain fantasies that might have been entertained by a young man growing up in the remote suburbs of a northeastern city during the late fifties and early sixties, i.e., one of my general height, weight, and build," noted Fagen, revealing the work's thematic thrust and wistful, nostalgic appeal. At their core, the songs look at the world via an optimistic, mindfully innocent lens and through the eyes of an adolescent holed up in his bedroom with his ear to a radio whose exciting transmissions inspire thoughts of futuristic cities, late-night deejays, otherworldly hopes, and Cold War romances. Cinema for the ears, The Nightfly comes on like a film transferred to wax – its stories filled with relatable vulnerability, ambition, and warmth.

It is also timelessly cool, with everything from the iconic album cover – complete with Fagen in the role of a cigarette-smoking disk jockey – to the flawless playing honoring the laid-back, hip, stylish jazz pedigree of the arrangements. Indeed, The Nightfly's fame owes as much to the stunning contributions by stellar musicians – saxophonist Michael Brecker, trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Larry Carlton, drummer Steve Jordan, bassist Marcus Miller, drummer Jeff Porcaro, and "Harmonica Frank" Floyd included – as it does the particulars behind its creation, which involved cutting-edge technology, novel microphone techniques, and pioneering recording methods that gave Fagen exactly what he demanded. 

The results of the meticulous sessions transcend eras and generations – part of its very design. Virtually every track connects with classic 50s and 60s styles. "Green Flower Street" doubles as an homage to the jazz standard "On Green Dolphin Street." The title track draws imagery from blues pioneer Charley Patton. "Ruby Baby" references soul greats the Drifters. "Maxine" nods to harmonies perfected by big-band vocal quartets like the Four Freshmen. "The Goodbye Look" acknowledges the bossa-nova craze of Fagen's youth.

 

  1. I.G.Y.
  2. Green Flower Street
  3. Ruby Baby
  4. Maxine
  5. New Frontier
  6. The Nightfly
  7. The Goodbye Look
  8. Walk Between Raindrops