Rolling Stone - 8/30/01, p.1285 stars out of 5
- "...Exquisite...music so technically demanding its creators had to call in A-list session players to realize the sounds they heard in their heads but could not play....AJA [is the]frustration and failure at the heart of the party."
Q - 6/00, p.1315 stars out of 5
- "...Sleek, smart, deliciously cynical...Lyrically opaque and using the best musical back-up in the business, this was the Steely Dan album that effectively ring-fenced jazz-funk forevermore....what rich entertainment still."
Steely Dan: Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards); Walter Becker (guitar).
Additional personnel includes: Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Dean Parks (guitar); Tom Scott (tenor saxophone, lyricon); Wayne Shorter, Pete Christlieb (tenor saxophone); Plas Johnson (horns); Victor Feldman (keyboards, vibraphone, percussion); Joe Sample, Michael Omartian (keyboards); Chuck Rainey (bass); Paul Humphrey, Bernard Purdie, Steve Gadd (drums); Tim Schmit, Clydie King, Michael McDonald (background vocals).
Engineers include: Roger Nichols, Elliot Scheiner, Bill Schnee.
Recorded at Village Recorders, Los Angeles, California; Producer's Workshop, Warner Brothers North Hollywood Recording Studios, ABC Recording Studios, Sound Labs, Hollywood, California; A&R Studios, New York, New York. Includes liner notes by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
This represents the pinnacle of Steely Dan's gradual transition from rock band to their own brand of jazz-influenced white soul. Guitars were replaced by keyboards, and saxophones became more common. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were only interested in spending time in the recording studios, while the fans pined and waited. The result set new standards in recorded excellence, and is regularly used as a hi-fi shop demonstration. The ambitious title track was deemed too difficult for radio play and only the two overtly accessible tracks 'Josie' and 'Peg', gave them valuable exposure.