Thursday, November 15, 2012

Donald Fagen - New Frontier

Donald Fagen is one of those musicians who totally marches to his own beat.  Fagen (and Walter Becker) were Steely Dan, a truly outstanding fusion (jazz-rock) band that recorded some of the most interesting songs of the 1970's and early 1980's.  When that partnership ended, Fagen went out on his own and his first solo album was 1982's The Nightfly.

Conceived as a sentimental remembrance of 1950's and early 1960's America, The Nighfly is now regarded as a classic, and further cemented Fagen's reputation as a songwriting genius and a studio perfectionist.  The album is impeccably arranged and produced and the material is extremely strong.

The video for "New Frontier" is typical Fagen -- understated and lovingly crafted as a real work of art.  No less a source than Allmusic states that it "was widely considered one of the great videos of the early MTV era."  The attention to detail, down to the animation is remarkable.  Fagen appears only in a poster seen in the video, underscoring him as the anti-celebrity.

Helped by the video, "New Frontier" rose to #70 on the charts, while the other single from The Nightfly, "I.G.Y." peaked at #26.  The album hit #11 and went platinum.

Unfortunately, Fagen then developed a case of writers block; his next album was not released until 1993.  He eventually reconciled with Walter Becker and has remained active as both a solo artist as as a member of  Steely Dan in recent years.

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