Steve Albini is loving the angry reactions to his brutal, hilarious Twitter savaging of Steely Dan

Steve Albini and Steely Dan
(Image credit: Steve Albini - Paul Natkin/Getty Images / Steely Dan - Chris Walter/WireImage)

Before he became a hugely influential punk provocateur with Big Black and Rapeman, and long before he became one of the most in-demand producers in the world thanks to his work with Nirvana, Pixies, PJ Harvey, Page & Plant and countless more, Steve Albini was a punk fanzine writer, infamous on the nascent US hardcore scene for his scathing, savage reviews of shitty bands and their shitty music.

"In our community we all recognised that everyone would be throwing elbows, but the rationale behind it was that we all wanted everything to be awesome," an unrepentant Albini once told this writer.

He's much too busy to type out album reviews for Xeroxed, stapled fanzines now, obviously, but every now and then, Shellac's mischievous frontman likes to throw out a little 'truth bomb' critique on Twitter, and watch the subsequent meltdown. 

Such was the case when he took to Twitter on Monday (February 6) and began a withering take-down of jazz-loving soft rock/ yacht rock legends Steely Dan with the words, "I will always be the kind of punk that shits on Steely Dan".

"Christ the amount of human effort wasted to sound like an SNL [Saturday Night Live] band warm up," Albini continued.

"There's some video where they talk about every song on an album, and each one begins with the not-bald one saying, "this song is based on my deep love of the blues, just a very bluesy blues. Deep blues." Then lays his jazz dork hands on the fucking electric piano..."

"Music made for the sole purpose of letting the wedding band stretch out a little," he scoffs.

"They spent three weeks on the guitar solo..." Three weeks of watching guitar players give it their all while doing bumps and hitting the talkback, "More *Egyptian* but keep it in the pocket..."

Predictably, Albini's gleeful smackdown of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's much-loved band provoked some irritated reactions from Steely Dan loyalists.

"Used to respect you, love the sounds you got on Surfer Rosa and have followed your career," responded Twitter user GuitarJazz5. "But here, you just sound like an ignorant asshole. The songwriting is superb, and the sound, the musicianship is pristine. People with open minds can like Steely, Nirvana, pixies etc."

Twitter user Charlie74683645 added: "an album" = Aja, one of the best rock albums ever "jazz dork hands" = arguably the hands most responsible in history for bringing a jazz sensibility --including chords, song structures, and virtuosity -- into rock music. Amanda Petrusich of Pitchfork called it "as much a jazz record as a pop one." NYT said it "created a new standard for the relationship between jazz and rock." It's pretty obvious to people who know jazz."

"The best thing you've been involved in is not as good as the worst thing Steely Dan has put out" HezikiaT told Albini.

"Arseholes and opinions..." posted CruisingBen. "no accounting for taste."

"Steve you’re an aging hipster musician with a checkered sexual past whose glory days are long behind him, clinging to remembrance and diminished meaning," writes  'OilSlickRick'. "You’re the main character of every song by Steely Dan."

"The Dan" reflects musical perfection from a time of musical masterpieces never to be heard again" adds one Markham Anderson. "Ask a music legend such as session freak Steve Lukather how he feels about Steely Dan."

"Look at yourselves," Albini countered. "Calling them "the Dan." Go trim your beard."

"All you "I used to hate them" people, pleading their case like it's a natural infirmity. "I need readers now, take pills for my prostate. Get winded on the stairs. And oh, I like that cocaine shit music now. Not just Boz Skaggs either."

"I kinda like Boz Skaggs tho" Albini admits.

This one could run and run...

Aware that he's poking a hornet's nest with his rant "doing numbers", Albini closes out his entertaining rant by linking to an online auction for a guitar signed by Dave Grohl, writing, "go bid on this guitar to help families in poverty."

A cause we can all get behind, surely.

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Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.