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Steely Dan FAQ by Anthony Robustelli review

Reading in the years

Coer art for Steely Dan FAQ by Anthony Robustelli

Many is the music fan who has dismissed Steely Dan as boring soft-rock jazzers, until one Damascene day the penny drops and their deft genius declares itself. Once you’re in the church, there’s no leaving. Zappa gave them “98/100” while William Burroughs loved them “doing too many things at once”.

This oddly-structured, listheavy book details the group’s career since 1972; The Dan’s mythical perfectionism and illogical popularity, their intermission and their 90s return. It goes deeper on chords, studio sessions and recording techniques than on personal stuff, and those seeking insight into the life of recently deceased Walter Becker won’t find any. The book is too kind to the two lacklustre 21st-century albums, but earns that opinion with its forensic study of their golden age. Robust.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.