Having recently subscribed to Maui resident Walter Becker‘s newsletter, today’s email included an apparently re-mixed recording from his latest album Circus Money. The track is called, Circus Money Hammerhead Remix and it’s pretty damn funky.
One night in Tokyo I had the pleasure of meeting Walter and his Steely Dan partner Donald Fagen after their concert at Buddokan. I liken the experience to maybe how it would have felt to meet Basie or Ellington back in the day. Growing up in Hibbing, Minnesota, I considered these guys the deans of hip — never mind that bard-guy with the funny voice… Anyway, attendance that night by the ever-polite reserved Japanese people from the record company meant that, among the 15 or so people assembled in the Budokkan’s green room, there was a rather wide berth in which to talk story with these two hepcats. After talking about avocados and internet with Becker, and Horace Silver and Brazilian bass lines with Fagan, the meet-and-greet ended and the two musicians departed into the Tokyo night in their individual Lincoln Towncars. (Somehow I’d sort of hoped they’d depart in matching ’74 Novas — that’d been funky.) On the way out, I had the chance to duck into the more plebeian bus carrying the other members of the group — said hi to the now late great saxophonist Cornelius Bumpus — softest hand I ever shook. I wonder if that is a sax-player thing?
This nice opportunity came about through “winning” a call-in radio “contest”. DJ and fellow UHH alumnus Vance K. kindly steered that radio contest prize my way. Turns out he and I have both worked at the same school in Hilo too–weird coincidence. I still haven’t actually met him. Speaking of which, this radio station interviewed these guys, with the typical DJ-voiced guy asking, “Hey. You guys – Steely Dan guys! Tell our listening audience what it takes! – to make groovy hits! that the kids all like! ..maybe you had to be there.. Anyway, at the end of the interview the DJ asks Fagen if he has any advice for the up and coming! wanting radio hits! crowd out in radioland! Without missing a beat, Fagen answers, “Don’t buy a hat through the mail-order.”
Before I regress any further, here’s Walter’s New Year’s offering. Oh, one last thing: I actually lowered the bitrate to 128kbps ’cause…er, at Island Notes we ain’t exactly swimming in bandwidth, if ya dig.)
Circus Money Hammerhead Remix(@5.5mb)
Those with bandwidth Towncars rather than Novas, you can go to Walter’s site here to download higher fidelity versions.