No Static At All: An Instrumental Tribute to Steely Dan Import
Steely Dan's seamless blend of pop and jazz influences has made them a staple of the smooth-jazz format, and many of the genre's top performers cite the band as a major influence. No Static At All stands as an all-star instrumental tribute to the band, with eight instantly recognizable "greatest hits" and three lesser-known gems. The oddities are a brass funk jam of "Bad Sneakers" (featuring Eddie M on sax and Roger Smith on keys), the haunting electric-guitar-driven moods exploring "The Caves of Altamira," and a dreamy, reflective take on "Pearl of the Quarter." The hit parade includes a percussive retro-soul reading of "Do It Again," featuring Warren Hill and Jeff Lorber (alternating between Hammond B-3 and Fender Rhodes). The energetic, simmering, blues-infused "Peg" features guitarist Doc Powell, and a soulful, throbbing "FM (No Static at All)" boasts Lorber and guitarist Nick Kirgo. "Deacon Blues" sasses with the sizzling horn textures of Richard Elliot and trumpeter Tony Guerrero, and "Rikki, Don't Lose That Number" is both breezy and hypnotic in Warren Hill's hands. "Josie" comes as an unlikely crackling rocker with Chieli Minucci on electric guitar, Nick Kirgo on rhythm guitar, and Dave Koz on sax. And "Hey Nineteen" gets a bubbly, tropical twist with Michael Lington and trumpeter Guerero. Appropriately referring to all the glorious time traveling, a swinging jam of "Reeling in the Years" marks a journey that never quite grows old, no matter the presentation. --Jonathan Widran
"Hey Nineteen" gets a rhythm makeover that makes it sound to me like a football cheer. "Reelin' in the Years" just plain grates with its sax arrangements and its vanilla chorus, closer to a hallelujah spiritual. "Peg" loses almost all of its original driving bass and is turned into an anthem for a soft-focus straw-hatted autumn tandem bike ride. "Rikki" gets so thick with the overlayed weepy-whiny saxophones that I was wondering when the overwrought Michael Bolton solo would slide in. "FM" loses all sense of its original message of the pure, unadulterated--and cool--refuge from the lame and mundane to become both lame and mundane. "Pearl of the Quarter's" arrangement is so Kenny G that I had to skip this track each time it came up.
"Caves of Altamira" was the biggest letdown, with all of the original's ballsy, fat, fat horn pump and drive replaced with a nylon-string guitar-led snoozer that would be perfect on the Sunday afternoon pool deck with some Velveeta nachos and a Zima by my side. All of the air is let of of this track, and it's a tragedy.
Bottom Line: If you love your local smooth-jazz station and have ever thought Steely Dan would be a lot more accessible if they'd just, y' know, tone it down a bit, then you've found the recording of your dreams. If you're a hard-core SD fan, this CD likely will let you down, as it's more schmaltz than tribute. If you're keen on divergent covers of your favorite tunes, this one does deliver somewhat, but the divergence is toward the smooooooth, clean, safe and radio-ready, and away from risk and adventure, and away from the true spirit of Steely Dan.
The problem is that there is no re-imagination. It's just playing the songs like in a hotel lobby bar.
It sounds like a walk in the park from these players, but without any tribute of sorts. What a waste on a great idea! Specially annoying is "Hey Nineteen".
If you want to hear a great example of an inspiring cover of the Dans, listen to (one time almost member of Steely Dan) Larry Carlton play Josie from his Standing on Solid Ground album. Now there's an example of how its done (just listen to the Kirk Whalum sax on this track).
Anyway, I would recommend this album to Danatics just to complement your collection.
Or pop it into your ipod and hear it at the dentist's while waiting for you appointment.
In the case of "No Static" the tunes are at once recognizable, and at the same time fresh performances by skilled musicians. However, this collection never reaches. The tunes are performed well within a very conservative comfort level. One wishes the artists had taken some risks with some of the material.
As it is, this is a great choice for sitting back and having a couple margaritas while the sun sets. Prior to the arrival of CorporateMusic, there were always intstrumental tunes like this on air somewhere. Whatever became of them?