Go back, Jack, do it again: The Steely Dan reissue campaign rolls on with the December 1 return of Gaucho, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker's final album before putting the Dan on a two-decade hiatus. Gaucho follows the previous vinyl reissues of Can't Buy a Thrill (1972), Countdown to Ecstasy (1973), Pretzel Logic (1974), and, most recently, Aja (1977). In addition to the 180-gram vinyl series from Geffen/UMe, a concurrent program from Analogue Productions is reissuing each record on SACD and in a deluxe 200-gram Ultra-High Quality Vinyl (UHQR) box set.
Steely Dan's seventh studio album, Gaucho in many ways was an extension of Aja. Like that seminal record, it was a highly polished studio affair. (Sessions spanned over a two-year period in various studios.) It also continued the sophisticated jazz-rock sound of Aja with sleek brass and soulful background vocals from a variety of singers including Michael McDonald, Patti Austin, Valerie Simpson, Lesley Miller, and Toni Wine. Yet the road to Gaucho was a bumpy one, with Becker suffering injuries in a car accident and weathering the death of his girlfriend, and Steely Dan falling victim to various studio mishaps, including one which rendered the song "The Second Arrangement" lost. (A final, complete recording of the outtake has never been released to this date.)
Upon its release in November 1980, however, listeners took to the slick sound and indelible songs which introduced such characters as the dirty old man in "Hey Nineteen," the well-to-do cocaine dealer of "Glamour Profession," and the narrator of the title track who's greeted at home by a most unwelcome surprise. Decadence was a central theme of the album, echoed on "Babylon Sisters" and in the druggy milieu of "Time Out of Mind." The music's hypnotic shimmer both contrasted and complemented the darkly impressionistic lyrics. Gaucho might not have been a world in which you'd want to live, but it sure made for an intriguing visit.
"Hey Nineteen" scored the band a top ten hit, with "Time Out of Mind" (featuring Knopfler on the guitar solo) peaked just out of the top twenty. Both hit the top fifteen of the AC chart, and "Hey Nineteen" climbed to No. 3 in the U.K., tying "Rikki, Don't Lose That Number" for the band's highest-charting single there. In 1982, Gaucho took home the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical. It was also nominated for Album of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
For this reissue on 180-gram vinyl, Gaucho has been freshly remastered by Bernie Grundman from a 1980 analog tape copy, originally EQ'd by Bob Ludwig. (The press release states "there's no evidence the original tapes containing the flat mixes of [Aja and Gaucho] were delivered to the record label and it's presumed the tapes no longer exist.") Lacquers for the standard 33 1/3 RPM 180-gram version will be cut by Alex Abrash at his AA Mastering studio from high-resolution digital files of Grundman's new masters and pressed at Precision. They will be housed in reproductions of the original artwork.
Additionally, Gaucho, like all of the titles in this series, will be released as a limited edition 45 RPM version on 200-gram Ultra High-Quality Vinyl (UHQR) from Analogue Productions. A hybrid stereo SACD playable on all CD players will also be released (date TBD).
You'll find the track listing and pre-order links for Gaucho below. The vinyl reissue from Geffen/UMe is due on December 1. Katy Lied and The Royal Scam will conclude the Steely Dan reissue program; watch this space for news on both titles.
Steely Dan, Gaucho (MCA Records MCA-6102, reissued Geffen/UMe, 2023)
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- Babylon Sisters
- Hey Nineteen
- Glamour Profession
- Time Out of Mind
- My Rival
- Third World Man