Rolling Stone - p.1015 stars out of 5
- "Fagen and Becker assembled a talent pool composed primarily of jazz specialists who showed they could rock and swing all at once when so inspired."
Q - 6/00, p.1314 stars out of 5
- "...Sleek, smart, deliciously cynical....Sounding like a million dollars and crammed with the low-life tales...[it] instantly raised the standard for sophisticated quirkiness..."
Steely Dan: Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards); Walter Becker (guitar, bass).
Additional personnel: Larry Carlton, Elliot Randall, Dean Parks, Dennis Dias (guitar); Chuck Findley, Bob Findley, Slyde Hyde, Jim Horn, Plas Johnson, John Klemmer (horns); Victor Feldman (keyboards, percussion); Paul Griffin, Don Grolnick (keyboards); Chuck Rainey (bass); Bernard Purdie, Rick Marotta (drums); Gary Coleman (percussion); Venetta Fields, Clydie KIng, Sherlie Matthews, Tim Schmit, Michael McDonald (background vocals).
Recorded at ABC Studios, Los Angeles, California and A&R Studios, New York, New York. Includes liner notes by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
Digitally remastered by Roger Nichols (Digital Atomics, Miami, Florida).
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
It was the year of America's bicentennial celebration, but on 1976's THE ROYAL SCAM, Steely Dan masterminds Fagen and Becker did not share in the exultant spirit of the times. The title track--a vision of fallen America from the point of view of immigrants--has a mock-celebratory chorus: "See the glory of the Royal Scam," which typifies SCAM's heartfelt cynicism. In their next two releases (their last), Steely Dan's sound would smoothen and incorporate less rock. This is perhaps their darkest record, and for a band known for its arch mixture of L.A. cool and ennui, that's saying something.
Guitar heroes were roundly worshipped in the '70s, and two of the record's standout tracks, "Kid Charlemagne" and "Don't Take Me Alive," feature incendiary axe work by Larry Carlton. Interestingly, both glorify outsiders: The former tells the story of legendary drug chemist Owsley Stanley, and the latter is a first-person account of a murderer on the lam. Other highlights: the crisp "Green Earrings" the lounge-chair funk of "Haitian Divorce" and the inscrutable "Fez," whose principal lyric is "I'm never gonna do it without the fez on/don't make me do it without the fez on."