The Steely Dan File
The Steely Dan 45’s
Volume 2 1973
The year 1973 was perhaps the most interesting one of
the 1970’s. For the new band Steely Dan it was full of highs and lows as they attempted to securely establish themselves in the rock and pop arena.
Their album Can’t Buy A Thrill and its’ lead track ‘Do It Again’ were quickly climbing the US charts as 1973 started and to gain the band more exposure Steely Dan’s management got them on to two top TV shows in January of 1973.
For the teeny-boppers Steely Dan showed up on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand on Janury 9th. A few weeks later, for the older crowd of record buyers Steely Dan appeared on the debut episode of Midnite Special, a late night rock show that aired after the tonight show on NBC.
‘Do It Again’ climbed in to the US Top 10 in February 1973 having previously hit #1 in France. It hit #1 on several US charts before February was over and would spend some 16 weeks in Billboard’s Top 40. Not bad for a band that only existed for 6 months…
Deciding tos strike while the iron was hot ABC Records decided to issue a follow up single almost immediately. ‘Reeling In the Years’, the opening cut on side 2 of Can’t Buy A Thrill, stunningly duplicated ‘Do It Again’s chart success with a steady climb in to the US Top 40 in March and April. ‘Reeling’ was recorded in almost a different genre than its’ predecessor but still hit #1 in the US and #10 in Canada.
In the 9 months since its first concert Steely Dan had accomplished what few bands ever do, 2 #1 singles and a Gold debut album.
Dollar signs seemed to get the better of ABC Dunhill Records now as the record company put pressure on the band to issue a new album. With 10 songs on the debut album it would seem that there was perhaps a 3rd track that might be culled from the set as another single. ‘Midnight Cruiser’ or ‘Dirty Work’ often being cited as potential hits. Instead the record company insisted on entirely new recording- forcing the band to record in between a busy concert schedule. The resulting track ‘Show Biz Kids’ seemed to be a slap at the music biz and sounded decidedly uncommercial when compared to the sweet David Crosby/Palmer harmonies on ‘Reeling In The Years’.
The result was predictable ‘Show Biz Kids’- which also featured guest guitarist Rick Derringer (then riding high as a member of the Edgar Winter Group)
– failed to break the US Top 30- peaking at #31 in Cashbox and #61 in Billboard (Somehow Record World put it at #9!!).
A heavy touring schedule took up most of the rest of 1973 for the ‘Dan of Steel as they promoted their 2nd LP Countdown to Ecstasy and their 4th single ‘My Old School’. At the behest of the record company they appeared again on both the Midnite Special and American Bandstand in the latter part of ’73- but the momentum was gone and the band retired in to the recording studio in December 1973 just as ‘My Old School’ slipped off the US charts after having peaked at #56.
Despite the recent showings and the erratic live appearances (that in part led them to sack lead singer David Palmer) Steely Dan’s 1973 was a triumph on many levels and set the stage for another phase in their existence.