Steely Dan Announces 180g & 200g LP Reissue Series, Commencing With Can’t Buy a Thrill on November 4

The hangman isn’t hanging but Steely Dan are stowin’ away the time, and they’re now back on vinyl where they belong. To wit: Steely Dan’s classic ABC and MCA Records catalog will return to vinyl with an extensive, year-long reissue program featuring the band’s first seven records that were initially released between 1972 and 1980. The initial offering in this Steely Dan reissue series, all of which is being personally overseen by founding member Donald Fagen, comes out on November 4, and it will be the band’s November 1972 debut album, Can’t Buy a Thrill.

These SD LPs will be available in two ways: 1) on 33 1/3rpm 180g black vinyl via Geffen/UMe, and 2) on limited edition 45rpm Ultra High-Quality Record (UHQR) vinyl from Analogue Productions. Considering how good, rather, how great Analogue Productions’ recently released 180g 45rpm versions of a pair of latter-day Dan releases — February 2000’s Two Against Nature and June 2003’s Everything Must Go — are, we here at AP expect even greater things from the UHQR editions to come.

Additional albums in SD’s storied ABC/MCA catalog will roll out periodically throughout 2022 and 2023. For now, you can pre-order Can’t Buy a Thrill here. The Geffen/UMe version of Thrill lists for $29.99, while the Analogue Production version goes for $150. (Actually, you can preorder the entire UHQR series here, if you want.)

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Here are the key SD LP stats: All albums in this reissue series are being remastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog tapes except for 1) September 1977’s Aja, which will be mastered from an analog, non-EQ’d, tape copy, and 2) November 1980’s Gaucho, which will be sourced from a 1980 analog tape copy originally EQ’d by Bob Ludwig. How come, you ask? According to the label, there is “no evidence the original tapes containing the flat mixes of Aja and Gaucho were delivered to the record label and it’s presumed the tapes no longer exist.”

Lacquers for UMe’s standard 180g version of Can’t Buy a Thrill will be cut by Alex Abrash at his renowned AA Mastering studio from high-resolution digital files of Grundman’s new masters, and pressed at Precision. These LPs will be housed in reproductions of the original artwork.

Meanwhile, the 45rpm UHQR version of Can’t Buy a Thrill will be pressed at Analogue Productions’ Quality Record Pressings on 200g Clarity Vinyl, packaged in a deluxe box, and will include a booklet detailing the entire process of making a UHQR along with a certificate of inspection. Each UHQR is pressed using hand-selected vinyl.

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In case you’re not quite up on your Steely Dan stats and FAQs, here’s a brief primer about the albums to come in this reissue series. The kickoff release, November 1972’s Can’t Buy a Thrill, contains the band’s breakthrough hits “Do It Again,” “Reelin’ in the Years,” and the recently viral “Dirty Work,” the latter of which features David Palmer on lead vocals. (And, hey, this first reissue salvo coincides perfectly with the album’s 50th anniversary too!)

The band’s sprawling July 1973 sophomore LP, Countdown to Ecstasy, houses such standouts as “Bodhisattva,” “Show Biz Kids,” and “My Old School” — all sung by Donald Fagen, who officially took over as the fulltime SD lead vocalist. February 1974’s jazzier Pretzel Logic was SD’s first Top 10 album with the massive hit, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.” March 1975’s swing-pop perfection platter, Katy Lied, has “Black Friday,” “Bad Sneakers,” and “Doctor Wu” among its highlights, with the addition of Michael McDonald on background vocals. May 1976’s guitar-driven The Royal Scam features standouts like “Kid Charlemagne” and “The Fez.”

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September 1977’s aforementioned, platinum-selling jazz-rock masterwork Aja includes three hit singles — “Deacon Blues,” Peg,” and “Josie” — and, of course, the elegant title cut. Lastly, SD’s final album for MCA, December 1980’s brilliant Gaucho, is home to “Hey Nineteen” and “Time Out of Mind,” the latter of which features Mark Knopfler on guitar.

“Time Out of Mind” happens to be one of my personal favorite Steely Dan tracks, in addition to the title track for Aja — that interplay between tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and drummer Steve Gadd gets me every time.

What are your faves? Share your thoughts about them, and what you think of this Steely Dan reissue series overall, in the Comments section below, following the tracklisting for Can’t Buy a Thrill.

Music Direct Buy It Now

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STEELY DAN
CAN’T BUY A THRILL

180 1LP (Geffen/UMe) / 200g 1LP (Analogue Productions)

Side 1
1. Do It Again
2. Dirty Work
3. Kings
4. Midnite Cruiser
5. Only A Fool Would Say That

Side 2
1. Reelin’ In The Years
2. Fire In The Hole
3. Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)
4. Change Of The Guard
5. Turn That Heartbeat Over Again

COMMENTS
DanaMck's picture

... all analog!

Rashers's picture

I don't quite understand. Do they take Steely Dan fans for suckers? So, they don't have some of the original masters and are using tape copies. Ok got that. They got burnt in the fire. Irrespective Bernie is remastering from the original tapes - is he then cutting lacquers for the 2 x 45rpm ludicrously expensive super vinyl versions? If so, why not cut all analogue 33rpm lacquers rather than constructing digital files for the "standard" editions. Bizarre. How are these better than the "Back to Black" digitally sourced versions? No, I don't want to pay €250 (in Europe because that's what it costs) for an empty box with a couple of clear vinyl records. Great records - I'm sure you could bet mint or near mint pressings of the whole set for the price of the supervinyl version of "Can't Buy a Thrill" (which was reissued AAA by Speakers Corner about 10 years ago for €25. I would have happily shelled out $40 for 33rpm AAA.

Analog Scott's picture

would be less use/wear and tear on the irreplacable original master tape. Also the 33 rpms are not being aimed at people who believe a high res digital copy will affect the sound. That's AP's audience. It's what AP promotes and it's what much of their fan base believes in.

Happy Will's picture

I think many will be asking the same question and it would be nice to have an official explanation. My guess is “they” didn’t want to play the tapes too much or send them to somewhere else for cutting if Mr BG was too busy, or they didn’t want to undermine the UHQR sales or maybe….

Re: the Speakers Corners issue, add 12 years - yes 22 years ago - and I guess a used copy will be pretty pricey.

Re: new editorial style - isn’t it rather Janet and John/tabloid - I really think we can manage with a slightly higher bar.

Rashers's picture

Ok:
So BG is using the original master tapes or copies to make the lacquers of the UHQR vinyl. He may or may not be making a new tape master from which the 24/*9* PCM files are derived for the digital masters. I still don't understand why BG or one of his colleagues is NOT cutting he 33rpm lacquers - whether from the tapes or digital files.
Presumably there will be SACDs derived directly from the master tapes. Given a choice I would prefer a 33rpm AAA LP, but the "standard LP" is likely to be derived from a tape copy of the master, digitalized into PCM and then cut onto vinyl. So, the best buy here is likely to be the SACD.
I find it a bit disgusting that a format, vinyl, which used to be a product "for the people" is now being marketed for wealthy people with deep pockets and ordinary enthusiasts are being thrown second rate (i.e. digitally encoded) scraps.
I know that Analogue Productions serve the US market - but I thought that the Acoustic Sounds vinyl partnership with Universal was the beginning of Audiophile AAA for the masses (along with Tone Poet and Blue Note Classic). And now we get insulted by this. Analogue Productions released Everything Must Go and Two Against Nature at reasonable prices only a few months ago - 2 x 45 for $60. So, the UHQR (of dubious extra value) and the ugly empty box adds $90 to the price (and that does not include local tax and shipping - topping out at $175)? Seriously? In Europe, these products will cost €250 - a staggering amount of money.
I don't wish to be too critical - but the article above is basically a re-purposed press release - there is no critical or editorial component. I also felt that the coverage of the MOFI scandal was severely toned down. Commercial relationships?
(I think that Speakers Corner were repressing CBAT until about 2012 - the only way of knowning the year of repress is the insert promoting the releases from that particular year)

rich d's picture

but it'll cost you.

Mike Mettler's picture
My take: I don't think those tapes were lost in the fire. Walter Becker once told me off the record what he thought had happened to the Aja masters -- and if you read the liner notes he and Fagen wrote for one of the Aja CD reissues, you may get wind of it.
James Kelly's picture

$150.00 US! Wow. The prices are ridiculous!

Fsonicsmith's picture

particularly the first four albums but I have come to slowly learn that every time I have paid high dollars for some deluxe edition I have regretted it. I have what I think is a very resolving vinyl set-up with Reed 3P arm and Lyra Etna Lambda cartridge but it is still not worth it. I am happy to let those who have deeper pockets or higher priorities buy them until they are sold out. Now that streaming-I love Qobuz-have come so far I will be happy with the new 33 versions at a much more reasonable price.

Steve Edwards's picture

or, I should say, my $150 question, is will there be anyway of improving on the noise reduction debacle that took place in the recording of Katy Lied? I like every SD album, and Katy is one of my favorite, but I sure don't want to fork out that kind of currency for a status quo recording. "Can't make good wine from bad grapes"

James Kelly's picture

I forgot to mention,$150.00 plus $15.00 shipping, and $8.00 tax US. Almost $200.00 US! Forget it!!! I'll buy the CD.

vinyl listener's picture

Good condition original pressings are relatively easy to get, don't cost a fortune and will sound better than these.

PeterPani's picture

I tried Steely Dan on Apple streaming service on weekend.
I did not know that band.
After listening to it, why are they famous in US? Must be something else than the music itself?

Tom L's picture

...let me just refer you to their Wikipedia article, which does a better job than I could.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steely_Dan
One key phrase: "Steely Dan is famous for their use of chord sequences and harmonies that explore the area of musical tension between traditional pop sounds and jazz." They also are appreciated by audiophiles due to their obsession with getting the best possible sound on their studio recordings.

Pretzel Logic's picture

My guess is Peter Pan is trolling...

PeterPani's picture

Here in Vienna my friends all know the bands AP brings out on vinyl. But Steely Dan is unknown here.
I will try further listening to Steely Dan to find out, what makes his music famous in US.

Mike Mettler's picture
Peter P -- please give SD music a serious, legitimate listen, and let us know your thoughts.

To the rest of us here -- how do we feel about the two recently released live LPs, Northeast Corridor and The Nightfly Live?

Rashers's picture

two albums were marvelous. The Nightfly is sufficiently different from the studio to add some interest, and, having seen them in concert many times, I thought that Northeast Corridor was a great representation. Sound quality excellent, flat silent pressings, worst album covers for a major band ever. Really, they look like bootlegs. I would have thought that a live album box set would have sold well: they could easily release a live version of all 7 original albums.

Anton D's picture

;-D

Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd grew up together and were friend with Alice Cooper.

Those four guys are reasonably well known.

rl1856's picture

Do I understand this correctly: BG will cut a new AAA master tape from the original tapes. The new AAA tape will be used to directly cut 45rpm Lacquers for the AP 45rpm releases. The new AAA tape will be converted to digital (hi-res ? At what bit rate?), THEN the digital file will be used to create lacquers to press UME 33rpm releases. SO the standard black 33rpm editions will be 2 generations removed from the master tape, while the 45rpm editions will be 1 generation removed. Why not use the new AAA master tapes to cut lacquers for both speeds ? The difference is in the cutting speed of the lathe not the source material. Of course that would blur any differences between a $30 standard pressing, and a premium pressing that will cost at least 5x more..... If you tell a record company exactly what you want, expect to pay for the privilege.

Rashers's picture

Fagen/ Becker:
When we recently sent for the mulitrack masters of Aja so as to make new surround-sound mixes of the same, we discovered that the two-inch mulitracks of the songs "Aja" and "Black Cow" were nowhere to be found. They had somehow become separated from the other boxes, which the producer had abandoned here and there (studios, storage lockers, etc.) almost twenty years before. Anyone having information about the whereabouts of these missing two inch tapes should contact HK Management at (415) 485-1444. There will be a $600.00 reward for anyone who successfully leads us to the tapes. This is no joke. Happy hunting.

That explains why they we able to fiddle with the multitracks for the 1997 Classic Albums to show (on YouTube now) but never released a 5.1 version.
So they don’t have the original master tapes of Aja or the full set of multitrack masters (and it is possible that the rest burned in the fire).

Mike Mettler's picture
That is the quote, yes! Truly a shame that such historical masters are ... whereabouts unknown.
xtcfan80's picture

No Peter...Steely Dan is not unknown in Vienna....Consider hanging out with a new group of friends who know something about 70s and 80s music beyond Queen and Fleetwood Mac...

Anton D's picture

It's a way of putting something down.

"Well, I have certainly never heard of Steely Dan...."

It's kind of funny, actually.

Trevor_Bartram's picture

More fodder for YT golden ears. Comparisons with original vinyl will abound. I still return to A Decade Of Steely Dan, one of my first CD purchases in '85, it's a timeless and perfect selection of their songs.

Soix's picture

There is no discussing Aja without bringing up “Black Cow.” How dare you!

AnalogJ's picture

I have never heard of Alex Abrath nor his "renown" AA Mastering studio. What makes him and it so renown?

jkingtut's picture

All of my originals sound pretty good. The world economy may be in recession, the audiophile community? Never. I have the feeling if I ever get a streamer this (digi) vinyl thing might be over except for the bundle that will never get there. Same with CD.

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