Steely Dan: more 24-carat 70s rock gold from the Midnight Special

Steely Dan's Dave Palmer singing
(Image credit: The Midnight Special)

The Midnight Special continues to deliver the goods, with its recently launched official YouTube channel sharing a video of Steely Dan performing the classics Reelin' In The Years and Do It Again.

The footage comes from the third episode of the very first series, broadcast on February 9, 1973. It was a show hosted by American rock'n'roller Johnny Rivers, and also featured live performances from singer-songwriters Albert Hammond and Paul Williams, plus Angel of the Morning hitmaker Merilee Rush, R&B group The Spinners, and comedy troupe The Ace Trucking Company.  

Steely Dan, meanwhile, contributed Reelin' In The Years – available in a video of the entire episode – and Do It Again, both from the previous year's Can't Buy A Thrill debut. Unlike the album version, which featured lead vocals from Donald Fagen, the Midnight Special version of Do It Again is fronted by Dave Palmer, who sang Dirty Work and Brooklyn on the album. 

Palmer was given the job on Do It Again because Fagen was a reluctant live performer, and on this shortened version there's no space for his organ solo either. What there is, however, is some stunning guitar work from founding guitarist Denny Dias.

By the time the show was broadcast – it had been filmed on January 24 – Palmer was no longer a member of the band. On February 4 Steely Dan played a show supporting the Guess Who at an outdoor venue just outside Phoenix called Big Surf, and a beer-fuelled, off-key performance from the frontman reportedly led to his departure.   

"There were two reasons for me leaving the Dan," Palmer told the Steely Dan Reader. "First, I was asked to. Second, when you have a singer as great as Donald Fagen was and is, you don’t need another lead singer in the band. I’ll always be grateful to Donald and Walter [Becker] for giving me a break and also for their musical integrity. The word “genius” is bandied about a lot in pop music but those two are the genuine article."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.