steely_dan_-_gauchoSteely Dan – “Hey Nineteen” – (1980)

Not a lot of rock songs from the 1980s could be described as “beautiful.” I submit this as the exception. The jazzy instruments and overall mellow sound – coupled with classic Steely Dan vocals – add to a great, smooth soft rock tune. It actually peaked at #10 on the Hot 100. Synthesizers were in in ’80 and this track makes perfect use of them without overdoing it. It is my favorite Steely Dan song.

Cant_buy_a_tcant_buy_a_thrill#4 – Steely Dan – “Do It Again” – (1972)

Steely Dan’s crowning achievement, “Do It Again” peaked at #6 and from the opening percussion you know that this is going to be a funky soft rock smash. This song exemplifies the unique sound Steely Dan always managed to achieve with their work. It’s unlike any other artist out there and I don’t want to say they peaked early, but this is hard to top.

Aja_album_coverSteely Dan – Peg – 1977

Steely Dan songs are, for some reason, really hard to find on YouTube. The version below is live, so it’s not quite as good. Recently, I was told that Steely Dan sounds completely different live as compared to their studio work, which I believe. This song almost made it to the top ten (#11) on the Hot 100 and is the fairly normal Steely Dan blend of jazz, R&B, and rock.

220px-The_Royal_Scam_album_cover#16 – Steely Dan – “Don’t Take Me Alive” – (1976)

This Steely Dan song wasn’t even an official single. The lyrics have a Butch Cassidy-type story going on, but the way they are sung is what sells this track for me. It’s jazzy, it’s funky and it’s slick. The album this appears on, The Royal Scam, features backing vocals from Michael McDonald and Timothy B. Schmidt. So it’s no wonder the vocals are great.