I love to make tape recordings of my vinyl albums. I have cassette and open reel copies of most of my favourites. Although I often play a taped album because it reduces use (and wear) of the vinyl copy, I also like to make kind of ‘marathon tapes’ on long open reel tapes. I enjoy using my Teac A-3300S in particular for this, because even at 3-3/4-ips tape speed it gives excellent results, with (for me at least) no audible loss in sound quality when compared with taping at 7-1/2-ips. I can normally fit eight sides of standard LP record to a 3600-ft tape, (i.e., four albums).
On Sunday last I had decided to make a marathon album of Steely Dan’s LPs, starting with the first album – Can’t Buy a Thrill – then working chronologically through their work.
Their studio albums are:
|Can’t Buy A Thrill||1972|
|Countdown to Ecstasy||1973|
|The Royal Scam||1976|
|Two Against Nature||2000|
|Everything Must Go||2003|
As yet I haven’t bought either of the last two albums on vinyl, but after adding Pretzel Logic to what was to have been a seven album homage to one of my favourite bands, I discovered to my surprise that I did not own a vinyl copy of Katy Lied!
Now it’s not in my nature to break the chronological sequence with these “marathon tapes,” so I immediately suspended recording, went online and ordered a good early copy of Katy Lied.
Now, being both a record collector AND a fan of Steely Dan for more than forty years, I assumed I already owned all of their pre-2000 releases on vinyl. Finding out I didn’t came as quite a surprise. I even wondered if I hadn’t misfiled it and had a quick look through the neighbouring albums on the Kallax. Nope. Not there.
Several of my favourite tracks from Katy Lied are included on the Steely Dan Greatest Hits double LP (1978), which I bought brand new and is an old and much-loved friend in my collection. “Black Friday,” “Doctor Wu” and “Bad Sneakers” are found on both albums. Also, I once owned the Katy Lied CD, so maybe these things confused me. But even if I still had that CD it wouldn’t have made it onto a marathon tape. Anyone with a turntable-based HiFi will tell you that the analogue copy is the only one that really matters–anything else is a second-rate substitute.
Anyway, Katy promptly arrived, and as I write this I’m continuing the recording. Needless to say, I have double checked that I own the remainder of the albums and wasn’t imagining it!
A ‘Gap’ in a Record Collection?
But the missing Katy Lied prompted me to think about ‘gaps’ in record collections. The more our collections grow, the more we begin to identify targets we ‘must have’ in order to feel we’ve got the entire catalogue covered for any given artist.
In an obvious way, Steely Dan leads collectors to explore solo works by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker—are there ANY Steely Dan fans who don’t own a copy of Fagen’s The Nightfly? Perhaps a smaller number will possess the Kamakiriad, Morph the Cat, or Sunken Condos. Even fewer people will possess Becker’s Eleven Tracks of Whack and Circus Money, yet all are natural enough extensions of a ‘Steely Dan collection.’ I suppose that, sooner or later, I’ll end up having a copy of them all.
Collecting ‘the works’ needn’t stop with the primary artists, either. I’ve gone on to add albums which involve my favourite session musicians from Steely Dan albums—Larry Carlton, Dean Parks, Michael Omartian, Jeff Porcaro, for example, are among the many superb musicians who have graced Steely Dan records over the years.
I appreciate how collectors can get into wanting to follow the work of favourite producers and engineers. That can certainly influence buying decisions for previously undiscovered or new artists. I’m thinking of people like Quincy Jones, here.
That’s a feature of the organic, roots-and-branches nature of music collecting. To the uninitiated, it surely seems obsessive, but there is a rationale for such collecting. So if I’m browsing records at a physical store, at a record fair, or online, and my long-suffering wife finally says, with an imploring tone—”Please, not MORE records!” I simply remind her that I’m filling some gaps in my collection.
The question then becomes, “can any record collection ever be ‘complete’?” Every collection is as individual as its owner. Until the owner dies, or parts with their collection (gasp!), every collection is a work-in-progress; a living, growing thing.
So welcome Katy Lied, and thank you—for filling one gap, but in no way bringing my beloved collection any closer to completion.
USA/Canada – Amazon.com Steely Dan Store
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