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Steely Dan

It's A 'Must'

SteelyWhile it didn't reach the heights of the group's '70s glories, Steely Dan's 2000 comeback album "Two Against Nature" struck enough of a nerve with the listening public to help it win the 2001 Album of the Year Grammy. Not much has changed on "Everything Must Go" (Reprise), particularly the trademark incongruity between what the songs seem to be about and what the supporting musical backdrops actually convey.

Narrators find themselves stalked by psychotic women ("Lunch With Gina"), indulging in psychedelic drugs ("Slang of Ages," marking Walter Becker's first Steely Dan lead vocal), and roasting in misery in the hot sun ("Blues Beach"). Sonically, the group's funky jazz-rock emerges with its usual super-smooth precision, highlighted by the sly "Godwhacker" and the wistful "Pixeleen."

Becker and frontman Donald Fagen are backed on the new set by drummer Keith Carlock, keyboardists Ted Baker and Bill Charlap, and guitarists Jon Herrington and Hugh McCracken. "We went for live tracking this time and got great, in-the-pocket tracks," Becker says. Steely Dan will embark on its first tour in three years July 23 in Costa Mesa, Calif. A second leg of dates stretches into the fall and will wind down with an Oct. 4 show in Concord, Calif.