Steely Dan – Countdown to Ecstasy [Stereo] (Analogue Productions UHQR Series 45 RPM Box Set)
Remastered all-analog (AAA) from the original master tapes by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering.
Countdown To Ecstasy — Steely Dan's gold-selling second studio album now on UHQR!
Definitive reissue Ultra High Quality Record, the pinnacle of high-quality vinyl!
45 RPM LP release limited to 20,000 numbered copies
Mastered directly from the original master tape by Bernie Grundman
Pressed at Quality Record Pressings using 200-gram Clarity Vinyl®
Purest possible pressing and most visually stunning presentation and packaging!
Tip-on old style gatefold double pocket jackets with film lamination by Stoughton Printing
"Recording sessions for Steely Dan's second album were squeezed between dates on a tour that was more drudgery than ecstasy. As a result, in Donald Fagen's words, the album came together in a 'desultory, haphazard fashion.' In the end, the songwriting and performances were solid front to back, but the fact that some songs sound different than others may have reflected the erratic recording schedule. The comparatively compressed 'My Old School,' for example, differs markedly from the more open-sounding 'Your Gold Teeth,' and Fagen's vocals also sound different. The beefiest and best-sounding cut is 'Show Biz Kids' wherein Fagen takes shots at the beautiful people while Rick Derringer's slide guitar oozes sleaze and swagger. If one song maximizes the virtues of the Bernie Grundman-remastered 45 RPM 2LP UHQR vinyl pressing of Countdown to Ecstasy, it's 'Your Gold Teeth.' During some Santana-like grooves, the instruments have more breathing room than on the original U.S. pressing. On this and other cuts, there's also a clarity to the background and midground instruments that sells me on the UHQR. On the other hand, the original U.S. pressing has a more lifelike presence — so I'll stop short of saying there's a definitive edition of Countdown to Ecstasy." — Music = 5/5; Sonics = 4.5/5 - Jeff Wilson, The Absolute Sound, May-June 2023
"Upon repeated listens, the UHQR version of Steely Dan's Countdown to Ecstasy continues to reveal itself to be truly worthy of a 10/10 rating in terms of both Music and Sound, each of them being a respective notch above the Thrill UHQR, not to mention being my preferred choice over any of the ABC and/or MCA Records versions I own." — Music =10/11; Sound = 10/11 — "Steely Dan's All-Analog Countdown to Ecstasy 200g 45rpm 2LP Set Establishes the Gold Standard for All Upcoming Releases in This Stellar UHQR Analogue Productions Series" Mike Mettler, AnalogPlanet.com. Read Mettler's full review here.
"I compared this costly reissue to a black label ABC Records original as well as a 1980 Japanese reissue (VIM-4043). The original scores 'fresh tape' points in the higher frequencies, the new UHQR easily betters the original on bottom as well as in terms of image focus and drop dead black backgrounds. ... A newly produced full color laminated 'one sheet' gives you both master tape boxes showing them to be 30 IPS Dolby masters and not EQ'd copies. This after years of hearing and reading that Nichols had digitized the tapes and then for 'safe keeping' destroyed them, or that they were destroyed in the UMG fire. ... While some UHQRs are revelatory, this one compared to the original and Japanese is merely better overall, but it's sure to buy a thrill for Dan hard core devotees who will now own the definitive edition." — Michael Fremer, TrackingAngle.com. To read Fremer's full review, click here.
Steely Dan's second studio album, originally released in 1973 by ABC Records, was certified gold-selling by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling 500,000 copies in the U.S.
Encompasing a diverse range of musical styles, from upbeat rockers to jazz-influenced ballads, Countdown to Ecstasy showcases the band's exceptional musicianship and clever songwriting. The album opens with "Bodhisattva," a high-energy rocker that features intricate guitar solos and a driving rhythm section. Other standout tracks include "My Old School," a catchy tune with a memorable chorus and a funky groove, and "Pearl of the Quarter," a slow-burning ballad with rich harmonies and evocative lyrics.
Lyrically, the album explores themes of disillusionment and alienation, with songs like "King of the World" and "The Boston Rag" offering pointed social commentary. The album's centerpiece, "Show Biz Kids," is a scathing critique of the excesses of the entertainment industry, delivered with Steely Dan's trademark wit and irony.
One of the defining characteristics of Countdown to Ecstasy is its use of unconventional time signatures and complex musical arrangements, which set the album apart from many of its contemporaries. The band's exceptional musicianship is on full display throughout the album, with tight grooves and intricate instrumentation that create a rich, textured sound.
Founded by core members Walter Becker (bass) and Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards), Steely Dan's popularity rose throughout the late 1970s on, and their seven albums throughout that period of time blended elements of jazz, rock, funk, R&B, and pop. Steely Dan created a sophisticated, distinctive sound with accessible melodic hooks, complex harmonies and time signatures, and a devotion to the recording studio. Becker and Fagen, with producer Gary Katz, gradually changed Steely Dan from a performing band to a studio project, hiring session musicians to record their compositions. The duo didn't perform live between 1974 and 1993. But their popularity nevertheless grew throughout the '70s as their albums became critical favorites and their singles became staples of Adult Oriented Radio and pop radio stations.
Like Steely Dan's 1972 debut album Can't Buy A Thrill, Countdown to Ecstasy has a rock sound that exhibits a strong influence from jazz. It comprises uptempo, four-to-five-minute rock songs, which, apart from the bluesy vamps of "Bodhisattva" and "Show Biz Kids," are subtly textured and feature jazz-inspired interludes. Countdown to Ecstasy was the only album written by Steely Dan for a live band. "My Old School" features reverent horns and aggressive piano riffs and guitar solos. "The Boston Rag" develops from a jazzy song to unrefined playing by the band, including a distorted guitar solo by Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. Jim Hodder's drumming eschews rock music for pop and jazz grooves. Bop-style jazz soloing is set in the context of a pop song on "Bodhisattva." Commenting on the album's style and production, Tom Hull says it is "clean, almost slick," with "no dissonance, no clutter," reminiscent of 1940s bop and "the overproduced early 60s pop rock."
Countdown to Ecstasy has lyrical themes similar to Can't Buy A Thrill. It explores topics such as drug abuse, class envy, and West Coast excess. "My Old School" is inspired by a drug bust involving Walter Becker and Donald Fagen at Bard College, "King of the World" explores a post-Nuclear holocaust United States, and "Show Biz Kids" satirizes contemporary Los Angeles lifestyles.
Rolling Stone described Countdown To Ecstasy as "another dose of mainstream rock and roll, restating the basic themes of Can't Buy A Thrill, but this time concentrating a bit more on the rocking side of their style."
The original cover painting was by Fagen's then-girlfriend Dorothy White. At the insistence of ABC Records president Jay Lasker, however, several figures had to be added when he found the discrepancy between five band members and three figures on the cover unacceptable. The proofs for the album cover were later stolen during a dispute over the final layout. The back cover features an orchid surrounded by the band and their recording equipment.
After a brief battle with esophageal cancer, Walter Becker died on September 3, 2017 at the age of 67. Steely Dan has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2001. VH1 ranked Steely Dan at No. 82 on their list of the 100 Greatest Musical Artists of All Time. Rolling Stone ranked them No. 15 on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time.
This stereo UHQR reissue will be limited to 20,000 copies, with gold foil individually numbered jackets, housed in a premium slipcase with a wooden dowel spine.
Overall, Countdown to Ecstasy is a standout album in Steely Dan's discography, showcasing the band's unique blend of rock, jazz, and pop influences in a way that feels fresh and exciting decades later. The album remains a favorite among fans of classic rock and jazz fusion alike.
Ratings from Mike Mettler @ analogplanet.com
(Above description from AcousticSounds.com)
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