Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Steely Dan Gaucho

I was talking to a student who wants to do his dissertation on LA. I said maybe he could do it on Gaucho.
So I listened to the album again, which represents for me at least, perfection miraculously extricated from the mire, and such perfection, that there is more to it than just a band making a record. By the time Steely Dan made Gaucho, they were not a band at all, but a product, and they knew it, and to succeed as a product, they acknowledged product in all it's dirty ways. That's why Gaucho is so sublime, every song about drugs and dissolution, every song played in every wine bar without anybody noticing what it was actually about across the whole of Hollywood, and every track technically perfect, beyond perfect, perfect for wine bars, and so perfectly subversive. That is fucking brilliant. That degree of knowingness is rare indeed, since most of us are dupes when it comes to making shit.
When Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits was invited to contribute, I remember him saying (in NME or whatever)  he was 'really disappointed' in the way his heroes made this record, which kinda dismissed all pretensions to being a band at all. Knopfler was called in, asked to do his shit, paid no doubt handsomely, and told that's all. That's disappointing to somebody who doesn't understand how Hollywood works. They just wanted the Knopfler sound, for a second or two on 'Time Out of Mind' so that's what they took.
If you read Rob Long's excellent 'Conversations With My Agent' you will miraculously understand the genius loci of LA and avoid such disappointment.

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