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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Steely Dan "Bodhisttahva" Isolated Bass And Drums

Steely Dan has always been known for their almost perfect tracks, even before the days that could easily be done via a DAW. Here's a great example of just how great those tracks could be with the isolated bass and drums from "Bodhisttahva" from the band's second album Countdown To Ecstasy.

This album still featured what amounted to the Steely Dan band before it became just Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, but you can still hear hints of the perfection that would come later with the studio bands they used for all their subsequent recordings. On this track, Jim Hodder was the drummer and Walter Becker played bass. Here are some things to listen for.

1. The drums are spot on and feel great. This has been a Becker-Fagen trademark in that they got drum machine-like time from their drummers well before such a machine existed.

2. There's a nice reverb on the snare. Elliot Scheiner, who mixed most of Steely Dan's records (although not this one) once told me that Becker and Fagen disliked reverb and he had to discretely sneak it in where he thought it was needed. That's not the case here, and it stands out and sounds most appropriate.

3. Becker's a great bass player. While the band used a studio bass player on most tracks on their subsequent albums and on tour, Becker plays the heck out of this difficult part. There are a couple of minor faults that would never be left in during later recordings at 0:41 and 3:07, but you never hear them in the track with the other mix elements.


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