Vermilion Sands

Gaucho Steely Dan

released: 1980-11-21
on label: MCA
artist: Steely Dan
genres: Jazz-RockYacht Rock
with some: Sophisti-Pop
listen at: Apple Spotify YouTube Music

‘Aja’ was cool, relaxed, and controlled; it sounded deceptively easy. Its follow-up, ‘Gaucho’, while sonically similar, is its polar opposite: a precise and studied record, where all of the seams show. ‘Gaucho’ essentially replicates the smooth jazz-pop of ‘Aja’, but with none of that record’s dark, seductive romance or elegant aura. Instead, it’s meticulous and exacting; each performance has been rehearsed so many times that it no longer has any emotional resonance. Furthermore, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s songs are generally labored, only occasionally reaching their past heights, like on the suave “Babylon Sisters,” “Time Out of Mind,” and “Hey Nineteen.” Still, those three songs are barely enough to make the remainder of the album’s glossy, meandering fusion worthwhile. – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic