The Nightfly (Warner Bros. ’82) Rating: B+
Fagen: “the songs on this album represent certain fantasies that might have been entertained by a young man growing up in the remote suburbs of a northeastern city during the late fifties and early sixties, i.e., one of my general height, weight, and build.” As such, this loose concept album has an optimism that’s far removed from the bitter cynicism of Steely Dan, probably due to the absence of Walter Becker. Musically, however, the album isn’t too far removed from his former band, and the arrangements are typically tasty, with an upbeat catchiness that propels them past pleasant mood music. Yeah, I always thought “I.G.Y.” was Steely Dan (that’s the one whose chorus goes “what a beautiful world this’ll be, what a glorious time to be free”), and maybe you did too. However, other upbeat songs such as “Green Flower Street” (lyric: “where the nights are bright and joy is complete”) and the title track also hit the spot. In fact, the whole album is rather enjoyable, though these long-ish jazz and r&b flavored pop songs still lack the “lets let loose” excitement of early Steely Dan. Instead, The Nighfly makes a nice companion piece to relaxed, easy listening later albums like Aja.