Uncut - 3/00, p.885 stars out of 5
- "...PRETZEL LOGIC retains its reputation as the group's most melodic work..."
Steely Dan: Denny Dias (guitar); Walter Becker (bass instrument); Donald Fagen, Jeff Baxter.
Personnel: Walter Becker (vocals, guitar); Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards); Timothy B. Schmit (vocals); Dean Parks, Denny Diaz, Jeff Baxter, Ben Benay (guitar); Ernie Watts, Jerome Richardson, Plas Johnson (saxophone); Ollie Mitchell (trumpet); Lew McCreary (horns); Victor Feldman (keyboards, percussion); David Paich, Michael Omartian (keyboards); Jeff Porcaro, Jim Gordon , Jim Hodder (drums).
Additional personnel: Victor Feldman, Timothy B. Schmit (marimba); Chuck Rainey (bass instrument); Dean Parks, Jeff Porcaro, Jim Gordon , Michael Omartian.
Liner Note Authors: Donald Fagen; Walter Becker.
Recording information: The Village recorder, West Los Angeles, CA; Village Recorder, West Los Angeles, CA; West Recorder, West L.A., CA.
Photographer: Ed Caraeff.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Dean Parks; Victor Feldman; Michael Omartian; Chuck Rainey; Jim Gordon ; Jeff Porcaro; David Paich; Ernie Watts; Tubby Bruce; Tubby Burce; Jerome Richardson; Plas Johnson ; Wilton Felder; Ollie Mitchell; Ben Benay; Lew McCreary.
Steely Dan holds the title as one of the most quietly subversive pop bands of the 20th century. They managed--on their first two albums and, especially, on PRETZEL LOGIC--to combine breezy, ear-pleasing accessibility with an immensely sophisticated sensibility that upended most pop conventions. On PRETZEL LOGIC that combination is perfected, even as band masterminds Donald Fagen and Walter Becker moved deeper into jazz-influenced territory. "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," the album's lead off track, is a case in point. A sinuous slice of jazz-pop that merges piano balladry with a samba-esque groove, the song became a Top Ten hit.
Though Fagen and Becker write the material and handle vocals/keyboards and bass, respectively, their recording process increasingly involved a rotating cast of session musicians, honing their studio-cobbled sound to a flawless perfection. The bar is raised in terms of musicianship here, as evidenced by the sassy cover of Duke Ellington's "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo and the bop atheleticism of "Parker's Band," a tribute to Charlie Parker. Yet Steely Dan blend their colors ever more effectively here, writing shorter, sharper compositions packed with harmonies, instrumental interplay, witty wordplay, and satisfying hooks. PRETZEL LOGIC ranks alongside AJA as one of the band's finest achievements.