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Aja — Steely Dan’s landmark sixth studio album now on UHQR!
Definitive reissue Ultra High Quality Record, the pinnacle of high-quality vinyl!
45 RPM LP release limited to 30,000 numbered copies
Mastered by Bernie Grundman from an analog, non-Dolby EQ’d quarter-inch 15 ips tape copy
Pressed at Quality Record Pressings using 200-gram Clarity Vinyl®
Purest possible pressing and most visually stunning presentation and packaging!
Tip-on old style gatefold double pocket jackets with film lamination by Stoughton Printing
The Best “Aja” You Will Ever Hear and It’s Not Even Close — Michael Fremer, TrackingAngle.com
The ‘In’ Groove — Update: Steely Dan ‘Aja’ LP Review and Comparison Including the new 2023 UHQR. YouTube video.
Mike’s Vinyl Experience: Favorite Classic Rock Audiophile Reissues of 2023. YouTube video.
Top 5 Audiophile Reissues of 2023. YouTube video.
My Top 10 Audiophile and Vinyl Record Album Purchases of 2023. Kenny’s Audiophile Record Reviews. YouTube video.
“Soundwise, the UHQR ‘Aja’ hits at an 11. It never fails to engage me, spin after spin after spin.” — Mike Mettler, Analog Planet, Nov. 18, 2023. Read the entire review here.
“I think I just listened to the Audiophile Reissue of the Year 2023.” — Michael Ludwigs, 45 RPM Audiophile. YouTube video
“This one is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). It is the top one. This is clear.” — David Bianco, Safe & Sound Texas Audio Excursion. YouTube video
“Truly, it’s the best of all the worlds. … This is clearly superior.” — Jason Gorber for ‘That Shelf.’ Youtube video
“… along with all this amazing new detail there’s much more physicality, there’s more depth … it’s much fuller, the sound stage is broader and deeper than any of these other versions and it’s it’s like just sitting in front of a stage watching the band play. It is just incredible how wonderful this sounds. It’s not rolled off on top but it is very easy on the ears and you can really hear more than the other version of Chuck Rainey’s Bass playing. He was just, you know, he’s phenomenal of course but you can hear how magic he plays and all these amazing lines — they kind of get lost on all the other versions — they’re really prominent here, you can pick out every sound from every instrument. I think it’s fantastic work they’ve done.”— Ken Micallef, Jazz Vinyl Audiophile. Watch Micallef’s YouTube video here.
“‘Deacon Blues’ takes up an entire UHQR 45rpm side … The 7:26 epic finally has room to breathe and express all of the tape’s wondrous top end and dynamic authority. …Transients are so well defined. You’re sure to hear newly resolved detail. Bernie Grundman did not appreciably mess with the EQ compared to his original 1977 cut because there was nothing wrong with what he originally did, but cutting at 45 and not having to cut to near the label has obvious benefits especially on ‘Deacon Blues’ but really on everything and the bottom end has definitely not been attenuated as it must have somewhat been on the originals. This Aja fulfills the UHQR promise as well if not better than has any in the series and there’s plenty of stiff competition!” — Music = 11/11; Sound = 11/11 — Michael Fremer, TrackingAngle.com. Read the entire review here.
If you were an audiophile in the late 1970s, you owned Aja. Rolling Stone, which ranks 1977’s Aja at No. 63 on its latest 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, says “this was Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s no-holds barred stab at becoming a huge mainstream jazz-pop success.
“And sure enough, thanks to sweet, slippery tracks like ‘Deacon Blues,’ and ‘Peg,’ this collegiate band with a name plucked from a William Burroughs novel and a songbook full of smart, cynical lyrics became bona fide superstars, shooting to the Top Five and selling platinum. And yes, Aja even won a Grammy for Best Engineeed Album.”
This landmark album in the band’s career features a sophisticated, polished sound that reflects the band’s meticulous attention to detail and the influence of jazz and fusion music.
Fagan and Becker would assemble a revolving cast of almost 40 session musicians to play on the album, consisting of some of the all-time greats, including Joe Sample, Larry Carlton, Wayne Shorter, Steve Gadd, Lee Ritenour, Timothy B. Schmidt — it’s a long list. It’s a Who’s Who of session superstars.
The album name and its title track were inspired by a South Korean woman whom a high school friend’s brother had married after serving in the army in her country. The chord progressions and melodies are so unique and so typically Steely Dan. The drum solo at the end of the title track by Steve Gadd is also astounding.
The album’s title track, “Aja,” opens with a serene piano introduction before building into a complex, multi-layered arrangement that features intricate drum patterns, subtle guitar lines, and a soaring saxophone solo. Other standout tracks include “Deacon Blues,” a melancholy ballad with introspective lyrics, and “Peg,” a catchy tune with a funky groove and infectious chorus.
Throughout the album, Steely Dan’s lyrics explore themes of disillusionment, regret, and the quest for fulfillment. In “Black Cow,” the opening track, the narrator laments the loss of a relationship, while in “Josie,” the album’s closing track, the band celebrates the freedom and excitement of a new love affair.
The album’s meticulous production values, including multiple layers of instrumentation and intricate vocal harmonies, showcase Steely Dan’s commitment to sonic perfection.
Founded by core members Walter Becker (bass) and Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards), Steely Dan’s popularity rose throughout the late 1970s on, and their seven albums throughout that period of time blended elements of jazz, rock, funk, R&B, and pop. Steely Dan created a sophisticated, distinctive sound with accessible melodic hooks, complex harmonies and time signatures, and a devotion to the recording studio. Becker and Fagen, with producer Gary Katz, gradually changed Steely Dan from a performing band to a studio project, hiring session musicians to record their compositions. The duo didn’t perform live between 1974 and 1993. But their popularity nevertheless grew throughout the ’70s as their albums became critical favorites and their singles became staples of Adult Oriented Radio and pop radio stations.
After a brief battle with esophageal cancer, Walter Becker died on September 3, 2017 at the age of 67. Steely Dan has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2001. VH1 ranked Steely Dan at No. 82 on their list of the 100 Greatest Musical Artists of All Time. Rolling Stone ranked them No. 15 on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time.
This stereo UHQR reissue will be limited to 30,000 copies, with gold foil individually numbered jackets, housed in a premium slipcase with a wooden dowel spine.
Overall, Aja represents a high-water mark in Steely Dan’s career, showcasing the band’s unique blend of jazz, rock, and pop influences in a polished, sophisticated package. The album has become a classic of the 1970s and remains a favorite among music lovers to this day.
|38.2 × 35 × 5 cm