Synopsis by Mark Deming
Steely Dan was hardly a typical rock band of the 1970s; leaders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen rarely toured, preferred not to put their pictures on the covers of their albums, wrote obsessively oblique, darkly witty songs that owed more to jazz fusion than the Top 40 singles of the day, and worked under the theory that the band consisted of whoever they decided was a member at any given time. Notorious for their time-consuming perfectionism in the studio, the duo spent over a year making their 1977 release Aja, but the hard work paid off; it was the band's biggest selling album, moving over three million copies, hitting the top five in both England and the U.S., and spawning several hit singles, including "Deacon Blues," "Peg," and "Josie." This documentary, produced for VH1's Classic Albums series, examines Aja's long and complicated creation. It features interviews with Becker and Fagen, their producer and collaborator Gary Katz, idiosyncratic British rock musician Ian Dury, and several of the session musicians that worked on the album (among them former Doobie Brothers vocalist Michael McDonald, who sang backing vocals).
band [music group], jazz, musician, record [phonographic], songwriter