The Steely Dan reissue campaign rolls on with the July 28 reissue of the band's third album, 1974's Pretzel Logic. The release follows the recent reissues of both Can't Buy a Thrill and Countdown to Ecstasy; like those titles, it will be remastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog masters and reissued on standard 180-gram black vinyl, Ultra High-Quality (UHQR) premium vinyl cut at 45 RPM, and hybrid stereo SACD (playable on all CD players). Donald Fagen has overseen the audio for all formats.
Pretzel Logic was a transitional album for Steely Dan as the final LP released during the group's original time as a touring unit. Donald Fagen, Walter Becker, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Denny Dias, and Jim Hodder all appeared, as did a number of illustrious studio musicians including keyboardists David Paich and Michael Omartian; saxophonists Ernie Watts, Plas Johnson, and Jerome Richardson; trumpeter Ollie Mitchell; trombonist Lew McCreary; drummers Jim Gordon and Jeff Porcaro; guitarists Ben Benay and Dean Parks; bassists Wilton Felder and Chuck Rainey; and percussionist Victor Feldman.
The sessions, produced by Gary Katz and engineer Roger Nichols, incorporated the Dan's ever-present jazz influences more explicitly than its two predecessors, while Fagen and Becker honed their songwriting to a new level of pop precision. The opening song, the slinky admonition "Rikki, Don't Lose That Number," became Steely Dan's biggest hit record, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remains a staple of radio airplay today. Propelled by a riff lifted from pianist Horace Silver's 1964 "Song for My Father," the song's lightly Latin vibe proved irresistible. The B-side of the "Rikki" single, "Any Major Dude Will Tell You," would be recognized as another Dan classic for its gentle message of sympathy from one friend to another, rendered without pathos or overt sentimentality.
The biting "Barrytown" was revived from Becker and Fagen's pre-Steely Dan days; their early demo version has been released on numerous unofficial collections. The title track was built on a blues foundation, nonetheless taking in funky jazz and repurposing the pedal steel, so often used in country music, in a blues-rock setting. The band's darkest side was indulged on "Charlie Freak," an edgy tale of drug addiction. Much more spirited the tribute to another Charlie - Parker - on "Parker's Band." Steely Dan tipped their collective hat to Duke Ellington, too, with a cover of his "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" on which "Skunk" Baxter innovatively used his guitar to conjure the sound of a muted horn.
Months after the release of Pretzel Logic, Steely Dan announced their retirement from the road. Becker and Fagen would press on as a studio-only unit for the remainder of their first tenure together. The album reached No. 8 on the Billboard Top LPs chart; "Pretzel Logic" followed "Rikki" on 45 RPM, reaching a respectable No. 57 peak. In 1993, almost two decades after its release, the album was certified Platinum.
Lacquers for UMe's standard 33 1/3 RPM 180-gram version of Pretzel Logic will be cut by Alex Abrash at AA Mastering from high-resolution digital files of Grundman's new masters and pressed at Precision. The 45 RPM UHQR release will be pressed at Analogue Productions' Quality Record Pressings on 200-gram Clarity Vinyl and housed in a lavish box. The set includes a booklet detailing the entire process of making a UHQR along with a certificate of inspection. Look for the standard vinyl and UHQR releases this Friday, July 28, with the hybrid SACD arriving not long after. You'll find pre-order links for all formats below.
Steely Dan, Pretzel Logic (ABC Records ABCD-808, 1974 - reissued Geffen/UMe, 2023)
- Rikki Don't Lose That Number
- Night by Night
- Any Major Dude Will Tell You
- East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
- Parker's Band
- Through with Buzz
- Pretzel Logic
- With a Gun
- Charlie Freak
- Monkey in Your Soul