UHQR Vinyl Record
|No. of Discs:
|Coming June 28, 2024
The Royal Scam — Steely Dan's gold-selling fifth studio album now on UHQR!
Definitive reissue Ultra High Quality Record, the pinnacle of high-quality vinyl!
45 RPM LP release limited to 20,000 numbered copies
Mastered directly from the original master tape by Bernie Grundman
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
Steely Dan's gold-selling fifth studio album The Royal Scam, was produced by Gary Katz and was originally released by ABC Records in 1976. The Royal Scam features more prominent guitar work than the prior Steely Dan album, Katy Lied, which had been the first without founding guitarist Jeff Baxter. Guitarists on the recording include Walter Becker, Denny Dias, Larry Carlton, Elliott Randall and Dean Parks.
The Royal Scam was certified gold-selling and peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard 200. The album is known for its intricate arrangements, sophisticated musicianship, and cynical lyrics, and is considered one of the band's most musically adventurous works.
The album features a diverse range of musical styles, from the funky and up-tempo "Kid Charlemagne" to the Latin-influenced "The Caves of Altamira" and the jazzy "Don't Take Me Alive." The lyrics explore themes of deception, corruption, and disillusionment, with characters that are often morally ambiguous or outright villainous.
In common with other Steely Dan albums, The Royal Scam is littered with cryptic allusions to people and events both real and fictional. In a BBC interview in 2000, Becker and Fagen revealed that "Kid Charlemagne" is loosely based on Owsley Stanley, the notorious drug "chef" who was famous for manufacturing hallucinogenic compounds, and that "Caves of Altamira," based on a book by Hans Baumann, is about the loss of innocence, the narrative about a visitor to the Cave of Altamira who registers his astonishment at the prehistoric drawings.
Musically, the album is notable for its use of complex harmonies and intricate instrumental arrangements, with the band utilizing a wide range of instruments including guitars, keyboards, horns, and percussion. The production is polished and professional, with a clean and precise sound that emphasizes the band's technical proficiency.
Rolling Stone, in its review of the album, described The Royal Scam, as Steely Dan's "mostatypical record, possessing neither obvious AM material nor seductive lyrical mysteriousness. It also contains some of their most accomplished and enjoyable music.
"... the overall feeling of Scam is one of just that: tension. There is little of the self-confident gentleness that dotted Pretzel Logic, less still of the omniscience that suffused Katy Lied. The Royal Scam is a transitional album for Steely Dan; melody dominates lyric in the sense that the former pushes into new rhythmic areas for the group (more "pure" jazz, semireggae and substantially more orchestration than before) while the verbal content is clearer, even mundane, by previous Dan standards," said the Rolling Stone review.
Nearly every song on Scam concerns a narrator's escape from a crime or sing recently committed, the review continued. "Becker and Fagen have really written the ultimate 'outlaw' album here, something that eludes myriad Southern bands because their concept of the outlaw is so limited. Rather than just, say, robbing banks ('Don't Take Me Alive,' in which the robber is a 'bookkeeper's son'), Becker and Fagen's various protagonists are also solipsistic jewel thieves ('Green Earrings'), spendthrift divorcées ('Haitian Divorce') and murderously jealous lovers ('Everything You Did')."
AllMusic gives the album 4.5 stars, saying the best songs on The Royal Scam, "Kid Charlemagne" and "Sign in Stranger" "rank as genuine Steely Dan classics."
The album cover shows a man in a suit, sleeping on a radiator, and apparently dreaming of skyscraper-beast hybrids. The cover was created from a painting by Zox and a photograph by Charlie Ganse, and was originally created for Van Morrison's unreleased 1975 album, Mechanical Bliss, the concept being a satire of the American Dream. In the liner notes for the 1999 remaster of the album, Fagen and Becker claim it to be "the most hideous album cover of the seventies, bar none (excepting perhaps Can't Buy a Thrill)."
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 20,000 copies, with gold foil individually numbered jackets, housed in a premium slipcase with a wooden dowel spine.
Overall, Steely Dan's Royal Scam is a challenging and rewarding listen, showcasing the band's unique blend of rock, jazz, and funk, and their uncompromising approach to songwriting and production.
|1. Kid Charlemagne
|2. The Caves Of Altamira
|3. Don't Take Me Alive
|4. Sign In Stranger
|5. The Fez
|6. Green Earrings
|7. Haitian Divorce
|8. Everything You Did
|9. The Royal Scam