In the late 1960s, a young Walter Becker and Donald Fagen met at
Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. The two musicians clicked
immediately : perhaps it was their mutual love for jazz music, or the
wry sense of humor two seemed to have in common. At that time, Fagen was
already involved with several local college bands, including one that
featured the (then) drummer Chevy Chase. But the duo Becker & Fagen
was on to something much bigger.
Fagen graduated from Bard, and again teamed up with Becker who had
dropped out earlier under dubious
circumstances. The two moved to New York, where they
tried their luck selling songs at the Brill Building and various other
places. Their first break came in 1970 with Park Records, a publishing
house that was working on the soundtrack for a movie called You Gotta
Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat.
The soundtrack... don't expect to find any forgotten pre-Dan
masterpieces, because it's obvious the two still
had a lot to learn. But the album is interesting from a historic
perspective, since it teamed up Walt & Don for the first time with
Denny Diaz. Diaz would appear on all Steely Dan albums up to
Gaucho. The album was produced by Kenny Vance of a band called Jay
& The Americans. The collaboration ultimately landed Becker & Fagen a
gig as touring members of this band. The experience wasn't all that
pleasant, so ultimately (and fortunately) the two set out to form their
own band together with Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Denny Diaz,
Jim Hodder and some other folks.
There's not much good that can be said about the movie: supposedly
the movie is about a New York loser trying to get it on with several
women, but merely ends up with node bleeds and broken bones. The film
ran for only two weeks in Manhattan. However it did star no one less
than Richard Pryor in one of his earlier performances, as well as
Robert Downey Sr.. I doubt the two want to be reminded of their
appearance in this production.
With You Gotta Walk It..., the director Peter Locke had his
one and only shot in the "serious" movie business before ending up in
the porn industry. Almost as if he were a character from one of Walt &
You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It
(Fagen, Becker, Locke)
Ain't no man can tell you
what's right or wrong for you
'cause you got to know what you need to know
to know what you got to do.
Fagen with a rough, unpolished voice as he also exhibits on the
other pre-Dan recordings (Catalyst, Becker and Fagen - The Early
Years). Fagen sounds as if he is still figuring out whether he should
be lead singer. Some catchy piano work & funky keyboard sounds.
Flotsam and Jetsam
(Becker, Fagen, Vance)
Flotsam and Jetsam is an instrumental interlude. Quite repetitious
keyboard work with percussion by Diaz. The song cross fades seamlessly into:
War and Peace
War and Peace is an extended drum solo by John
Discepolo, with some weird piano play on top of it. I'm sure it had
some function in the movie.
Roll Back The Meaning
(Fagen, Becker, White)
Our special losin' streak
it can't survive for long
the time is right but something else is wrong.
This is one of the more interesting songs on the album,
since you can hear where Becker & Fagen seem to be heading with their
music. However, their lyrics appear to be less twisted; oblique
than their later stuff.
You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It (Reprise)
(Fagen, Becker, Locke)
Higher key version of the title track. But it's only
Dog Eat Dog
Nice guitar work by Diaz. Aggressive vocals
by Fagen. A very upbeat song. The song displays a rather negative view
on life in the big city. Many Dan-buffs consider this song to be the
most interesting of the album. However, my preference goes to the
Red Giant/White Dwarf
This song has by far the most interesting guitar work of
the entire album. The entire song has a very Dan'esque riff.
If It Rains
These things, now second nature,
Remain a part of me
With only rain to tell me of
The places I can be
Kenny Vance takes lead vocals in this song,
accompanied mostly by Fagen's piano play.