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Steely Dan’s Broadly Acclaimed Third Album Returns To Vinyl After More Than Three Decades


By Stevie Connor.



Steely Dan’s broadly acclaimed third album, Pretzel Logic, will return to vinyl for the first time in over 35 years on July 28th via Geffen/UMe/Universal Music Canada. Originally released in 1974, the best-selling album marked the band’s first to break Billboard’s Top 10, on the strength of their most successful hit, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” plus such favorites as “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo,” and “Barrytown.”

Pretzel Logic marks the latest release in Geffen/UMe’s extensive reissue program of Steely Dan’s classic ABC and MCA Records catalog, which returns the band’s first seven records to vinyl – most of which haven’t been available since their original release. Overseen by founding member Donald Fagen, the series launched in November 2022 with the group’s legendary debut, Can’t Buy A Thrill, followed most recently by 1973’s Countdown To Ecstasy in May 2023.

The album was meticulously remastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog tapes and pressed on 180-gram black vinyl at 33 1/3 RPM. Additionally, Pretzel Logic will be released as a limited edition premium 45 RPM version on Ultra High-Quality Vinyl (UHQR) from Analogue Productions, the audiophile in-house reissue label of Acoustic Sounds. Analogue Productions is also releasing this series of titles on Super Audio CD (SACD).

Additional titles will roll out over the next year, including 1975’s swing-pop perfection Katy Lied (featuring “Black Friday,” “Bad Sneakers” and “Doctor Wu,” as well as the addition of Michael McDonald on vocals); 1976’s guitar-driven The Royal Scam (“Kid Charlemagne,” “The Fez”); 1977’s platinum-selling jazz-rock masterwork Aja (with the hits “Deacon Blues,” Peg” and “Josie,” plus the elegant title cut); as well as Steely Dan’s final album for MCA, and last for 20 years, 1980’s brilliant Gaucho (featuring “Hey Nineteen” and “Time Out Of Mind,” with Mark Knopfler on guitar).

All albums are being mastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog tapes except for Aja, which will be mastered from an analog, non-EQ’d, tape copy, and Gaucho, which will be sourced from a 1980 analog tape copy originally EQ’d by Bob Ludwig. (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 UMe’s standard 33 1/3 RPM 180-gram version will be cut by Alex Abrash at his renowned 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.

The 45 RPM UHQR versions will be pressed at Analogue Productions’ Quality Record Pressings on 200-gram Clarity Vinyl, packaged in a deluxe box, and will include a booklet detailing the entire process of making a UHQR along with a certificate of inspection. Each UHQR is pressed, using hand-selected vinyl, with attention paid to every single detail of every single record. All of the innovations introduced by QRP that have been generating such incredible critical acclaim are applied to each UHQR. The 200-gram records feature the same flat profile that helped to make the original UHQR so desirable.

Led by the songwriting and virtuoso musical duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Steely Dan released an extraordinary run of seven albums on ABC Records and MCA Records from 1972 through 1980. Filled with top line musicianship, clever and subversive wordplay, ironic humour, genius arrangements, and pop hits that outshone the Top 40 of their day, Steely Dan’s records – which were as sophisticated and cerebral as they were inscrutable – were stylistically diverse, melding the band’s love of jazz with rock, blues, and impeccable pop song craft.

Their third album, 1974’s Pretzel Logic, marked Steely Dan’s final full-length as a touring band, as well as the last recording in their original quintet setting. Helmed by longtime producer Gary Katz, the album found the band expanding upon their influences while eschewing the longer jams of their earlier work – opting instead for concise, pop-forward selections like “Barrytown,” “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” and “Parker’s Band,” an homage to saxophonist Charlie Parker (the group also honoured their jazz roots with a spot-on cover of Duke Ellington’s “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo”). The band’s tighter focus still left plenty of room for experimentation, however, as they recorded what many consider to be their greatest masterpiece – one that brims with crafty lyricism, complex melodies, and an array of unique instrumentation.

This expansive sound can be owed in large part to the more-than-a-dozen studio musicians that performed on the album, including drummer Jeff Porcaro and keyboardist David Paich (both later of Toto), as well as guitarist Dean Parks, and seasoned bassists Chuck Rainey and Wilton Felder. In the liner notes for a 1999 reissue of Pretzel Logic, Becker and Fagen wrote, “‘Studio Musician’ – to us, there were no grander words in the English language than these…. Once the neural floodgates had been opened upon the possibilities of recording with any and all of our favourite ‘L.A. Cats,’ there was no turning back.” Months after the album’s release, Becker and Fagen announced their retirement from the road. From that point on, Steely Dan would be a studio-only duo.

Upon its release, Pretzel Logic was embraced by the press – drawing rave reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone, Creem, the Village Voice, and DownBeat, which declared “there are no better rock recording groups in America, and damn few worldwide.” Months later, NME named Pretzel Logic as its Album of the Year. In the ensuing decades, the album has made frequent appearances in high-profile rankings, including Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” while in the publication’s 2004 Album Guide, writer Rob Sheffield praised, “The whole album is flawless.” Commercially, Pretzel Logic was also a phenomenal success – marking Steely Dan’s first Top 10 album on the Billboard 200. Single “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” meanwhile, became the biggest hit of their career, landing at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Nearly 50 years on, the timeless album remains an essential listen in America’s pop music canon – and a testament to the breadth of the band’s talents.

The Steely Dan vinyl reissue program follows 2021’s release of Steely Dan’s Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live! and a live version of Donald Fagen’s acclaimed solo album, The Nightfly Live, which were both released via UMe on 180-gram vinyl, CD, and digital. The first live Steely Dan album in more than 25 years, Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live! was recorded across tour dates at New York City’s Beacon Theatre, The Met Philadelphia, and more, and showcases selections from Steely Dan’s extraordinary catalog of slinky grooves, sleek subversive lyrics, and infectious hits. Fagen’s The Nightfly Live was performed live by The Steely Dan Band.

Pretzel Logic Track List (33 RPM Vinyl)

Side A

  1. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number

  2. Night by Night

  3. Any Major Dude Will Tell You

  4. Barrytown

  5. East St. Louis Toodle-Oo

Side B

  1. Parker’s Band

  2. Through with Buzz

  3. Pretzel Logic

  4. With a Gun

  5. Charlie Freak

  6. Monkey in Your Soul

Steely Dan helped define the soundtrack of the '70s with hits such as "Reeling in the Years,” "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," "Peg," "Deacon Blues," "Babylon Sisters," and "Hey Nineteen," culled from their seven platinum albums issued between 1972 and 1980 (including 1977's groundbreaking Aja). Both their sound and their notoriety survived the '80s despite Walter Becker and Donald Fagen occasionally surfacing for a solo project. They reunited as Steely Dan in the early '90s, touring successfully throughout the decade and releasing a live album in 1995 (Alive In America). In 2000, they released their multi-GRAMMY® winner, Two Against Nature, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.








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