Walter Becker Jon Pareles - Essay

Jon Pareles

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

They all look alike. The casings are always bland. The sauce, however tasty, is an afterthought. What matters is what's inside, and by the time you know if it's any good, the dumpling is gone.

Steely Dan—Walter Becker and Donald Fagen—do nothing unself-consciously. So it's entirely likely that in "Glamour Profession" on their new album, Gaucho, the coke dealer chooses Szechuan dumplings as celebratory chow in an offhand metaphor for Becker and Fagen's songwriting. With Gaucho's seven songs—which, in the first few plays but not thereafter, tend to sound alike—the casings are the adult-contemporary arrangements, the sauce is the piquant solos and horn charts, and the meat—wait a...

(The entire section is 547 words.)