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Any Major Steely Dan Covers

September 3rd, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

The death today of Steely Dan’s equal half, Walter Becker, merits a tribute to the band, especially on a site titled Any Major Dude With Half A Heart.

Steely Dan is the kind of band that invites strong opinions. Their music is not very soulful but expertly executed, using some of the finest session players of their time. For some it’s too cold; others can bathe in glow of the music’s brilliance. I can see why one might not be touched by the music, even finding it too clever, too self-consciously sophisticated. It’s a fair criticism, even if I don’t share in it. But the musicianship and the innovation deserve admiration. Much of it was Walter Becker’s work.

After starting out as a conventional rock group, Steely Dan soon became the two-some of Becker and Donald Fagan, surrounding themselves with a collective of top session musicians. Almost all the drummers that have featured in the Session Players series have played with Steely Dan: Bernard Purdie, Steve Gadd, Hal Blaine, Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner, Ricky Lawson“…

Fagan was pretty much the frontman, taking the lead vocals. Becker’s primary job was to see to the intricate arrangements, with those complex rhythm tracks and finely tuned harmonies.

And that is where the critics of Steely Dan might do well to listen with new ears. I think they’ll find many surprises in most tracks.

And now, having bigged up the arrangements, I’m presenting a collection of cover versions.

It is not easy to do covers of songs that rely on intricate arrangements, and only very few Dan songs have been covered any significant number of times. This is what Steely Dan share with ABBA. But where the versions on the ABBA covers mix mostly required reinvention to be any good, Steely Dan songs can be covered fairly straight and still be good.

One version here is not good. Donny and Marie Osmond singing Reelin’ In The Years as the opening production of their show on 13 January 1978. Having done their job on the song, the toothy siblings hand over to the easy listening choir that scores an ice-skating routine, complete with high kicks. It is quite a show; take a look at it! Strangely, even though Reelin’ In The Years is pretty much the simplest, most straight-forward Steely Dan track, I’ve not heard a cover of which that I really liked.

And with that, here”s to the legacy of the great Walter Becker. May he rest in peace.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard-length CD-R, includes home-dirtyworked covers, and PW in comments.

1. Wilco – Any Major Dude Will Tell You (2000)
2. Ben Folds Five – Barrytown (2000)
3. Nathan Haines with Damon Albarn – F.M. (2003)
4. Turin Brakes – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (2011)
5. Minutemen – Dr. Wu (1984)
6. Rickie Lee Jones – Show Biz Kids (2000)
7. Atlanta Rhythm Section – Hey Nineteen (2011)
8. Michael McDonald with Donald Fagen – Pretzel Logic (1991)
9. Waylon Jennings – Do It Again (1980)
10. José Feliciano – Dirty Work (1974)
11. Poco – Dallas (1975)
12. Snake Davis Band – Deacon Blues (2016)
13. David Garfield – Josie (2003)
14. Sara Isaksson & Rebecka Törnqvist – Fire In The Hole (2006)
15. Ivy – Only A Fool Would Say That (2000)
16. Zo! feat. Phonte and Sy Smith – Black Cow (2011)
17. Toto – Bodhisattva (2002)
18. Woody Herman Band – Aja (1978)
19. Donny & Marie Osmond – Reelin’ In The Years (1978)


Previous Songbooks:
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Rod Temperton
Sly Stone

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  1. halfhearteddude
    September 3rd, 2017 at 22:22 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Dean Of Rock
    September 3rd, 2017 at 23:29 | #2

    Ian Matthews did a nice cover of “Dirty Work”.

  3. Tom Frost
    September 4th, 2017 at 00:32 | #3

    This was the first site I checked when I heard the sad news of Walter Becker’s passing. Well done on pulling this together so quickly. Good to see that Donald Fagen has already said that he will continue to promote the music that they made together. And many thanks to you for your ongoing sterling work in creating this truly excellent site. And I’ve said it before and will say it again – any chance of a Roger Hawkins Session Players mix? Best regards, tom Frost
    ps The Pointer Sisters also did a grand cover of Dirty Work

  4. Brian S Stanbrook
    September 4th, 2017 at 01:57 | #4


    RIP Walter.

  5. halfhearteddude
    September 4th, 2017 at 09:08 | #5

    Thanks for the kind words. I really debated between Pointer Sisters or Feliciano versions for Dirty Work. One of the few songs where I was faced with a tough choice.

  6. halfwit
    September 4th, 2017 at 10:20 | #6

    Can only echo Tom Frost’s sentiments.. many thanks Dude.

    As is often the case, I’ve been listening to a lot of Steely Dan recently, and was surprised to discover he was in China Crisis at one stage. He lead quite an eventful life.

    Looking forward to the mix, and will be lining up Black Man Ray & King in a Catholic Style as well.

  7. burnworthy
    September 4th, 2017 at 14:00 | #7

    Lauren Wood did a great Dirty Work also

  8. J. Loslo
    September 5th, 2017 at 03:48 | #8

    Some time back, I tried to make a Steely Dan covers playlist for my iPod, and I was surprised to see how few covers I had. This will certainly fill a few holes.

    As for Reelin’ In The Years, I kind of like the Marvelous 3 version, from the Me, Myself, and Irene soundtrack, which is pretty much all Steely Dan covers:


  9. R Sole
    September 5th, 2017 at 04:50 | #9

    So sad to hear of his passing. Their songs were melodic, intriguing and intelligent. Will be missed.

  10. halfhearteddude
    September 5th, 2017 at 07:50 | #10

    I think there are three covers from the soundtrack on this mix (Wilco, Ben Folds, Ivy). Another one I dumped and the Marvelous 3 track would have been a contender, but I think the Donny & Marie version is far more Becker’s thing…

  11. Grant canyon
    January 16th, 2018 at 20:24 | #11

    Ian Matthews did excellent cover of Dirty work.

  12. KODRA
    May 6th, 2018 at 02:49 | #12

    Please don`t change zippyshare. Rapidgator, turbobit is very bad, slowly and manipulated with your fans

  13. halfhearteddude
    May 8th, 2018 at 15:32 | #13

    Zippyshare is still my first choice, but it’s difficult to upload to and to manage files. So RG is a standby. Plus, all my files of 2017 were deleted by Zippy, so I uploaded them to RG instead.

  14. Jim Sells
    July 1st, 2018 at 19:20 | #14

    Cannot get this link to work. Just resets on a loop. Might you have any ideas, my good man? Thanks for the blog and all the mixes!

  15. halfhearteddude
    July 2nd, 2018 at 18:38 | #15

    Try again: https://rapidgator.net/file/2878dcde025f738d260872d22b440079/Steelcovs.rar

    Somehow, WordPress or Rapidgator add on “?referer=http://www.halfhearteddude.com/2017/09/any-major-steely-dan-covers/” to the URL, which makes the file go in a loop. Very annoying, but I don’t know how to switch that off.

  16. Popguy
    April 10th, 2020 at 16:49 | #16

    Any chance of a re-up?
    Thanks in advance!

  17. halfhearteddude
    April 11th, 2020 at 12:15 | #17

    Back up now, Popguy.

  18. Greg Page
    June 21st, 2020 at 04:13 | #18

    Capability Brown does a nice version of “Midnight Cruiser” circa 1973. (Voices album)

  19. Kevin
    May 8th, 2021 at 16:51 | #19

    I just discovered your blog and love these songwriter and covered compilations. Thanks for all your hard work. Could you repost this:-)

  20. amdwhah
    May 11th, 2021 at 11:40 | #20
  21. Fredrick J Beondo
    November 19th, 2021 at 21:52 | #21

    This set brings this album to mind…


  22. Fredrick Beondo
    November 24th, 2021 at 02:43 | #22

    I had to put paper towels down to sop up the maudlin and 70’s cheese when I reached Donny & Marie, thank you for the spoiler warning LOL

  23. amdwhah
    November 25th, 2021 at 08:54 | #23

    Like an overripe camembert, it stinks and doesn’t taste good, but yet you are compelled to eat it.

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