Steely Dan: Jeff Baxter (pedal steel guitar); Walter Becker (bass instrument); Jim Hodder (background vocals); David Palmer , Donald Fagen, Denny Dias.
Personnel: Walter Becker (vocals, guitar, electric bass, bass guitar); Donald Fagen (vocals, piano, electric piano, organ, keyboards); David Palmer (vocals, keyboards); Jim Hodder (vocals, drums, percussion); Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews, Venetta Fields (vocals, background vocals); Jeff Baxter (guitar, steel guitar, Spanish guitar); Denny Dias (guitar, sitar, electric sitar); Elliot Randall, Elliott Randall, Denny Diaz (guitar); Jerome Richardson (saxophone, tenor saxophone); Snooky Young (flugelhorn, horns); Victor Feldman (keyboards, percussion); David Paich (keyboards); Shirley Matthews (background vocals).
Additional personnel: Victor Feldman, Clydie King, Elliott Randall, Jerome Richardson, Snooky Young, Venetta Fields, Shirley Matthews.
Audio Remasterer: Roger Nichols .
Liner Note Authors: Donald Fagen; Walter Becker; Tristan Fabriani.
Recording information: The Village Recorder, Los Angeles, CA; Village Recorder, Los Angeles, CA.
This is the album that introduced Donald Fagen and Walter Becker's unique, idiosyncratic, and highly polished craftsmanship. Although CAN'T BUY A THRILL lacks the overtly jazzy tendencies that would define albums like AJA, it distinguishes itself from nearly all of the mainstream pop and rock of the era with its smooth, lounge-y feel, catchy hooks, and immaculate studio polish. They were played alongside the Doobie Brothers and the Eagles on '70s FM radio, but Steely Dan's sound was more self-conscious and sophisticated than its peers: this was postmodern R&B, dressed up in a tuxedo, and holding an advanced degree.
The album's hit single "Do It Again" is textbook Dan, with its slinky, Latin-touched groove, expansive, minor key melody, and shimmering veneer. Fagen's quirky vocals grace the track, and the record's other hit, the chugging "Reeling In the Years," with its memorable looping guitar riff, but several cuts here feature the vocals of David Palmer, whose sincere, straightforward pop-soul approach seems at odds with the band's aesthetic. Even so, CAN'T BUY A THRILL sparkles, and is the first impressive notch for a band whose output would continue to improve.