Let's be clear: Every Steely Dan song is cool, by default. The 1970s-originating jazz rock band always has delivered cool music, comfortable for listening to in a cocktail lounge, singing along with in your car or just grooving on a Sunday afternoon on your patio while at a barbecue. It's possible, therefore, the band has absolutely zero underrated songs.
Over 30-plus years, the duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen released nine studio albums, two live albums and several compilation collections. Their main period, however, came between 1972 and 1980, when Steely Dan released seven of those aforementioned nine studio albums—and every one went gold or platinum. That's some success right there.
Below are five Steely Dan songs that are underrated—we really wanted to include the entire Aja album even though we did not. These tracks are presented in no specific order, either, but you may choose to rank them yourself. So, enjoy, even if you would pick different songs.
- "Babylon Sisters": From their last heyday album Gaucho in 1980, this song is so easy to listen to, it's clear to see why it was overshadowed by the big hit on the album, "Hey Nineteen". Like most of the band's songs from the 1970s, there's a slow dance in there somewhere—as well as a scotch on the rocks. The cocktail lounge triumphs here, easily.
- "Kings": This just sounds like the early 1970s, and it is, literally. The band's first album, 1972's Can't Buy a Thrill, had some big hits, but this deep track is an interesting look at history and neighborhood politics, blended together. There's a nice guitar solo in the middle of the song to compliment the consistent beat that hooks the listener from the beginning.
- "Bad Sneakers": From the 1975 album Katy Lied, this track features five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald singing backup to Fagen. McDonald would go on to front the Doobie Brothers for several years after this. His signature sound is definitely discernible on this song. Becker's guitar solo is pretty jazzy, too.
- "My Old School": In 1973, the band released Countdown to Ecstasy, and this song resonates with all of us in terms of revisiting the past. Four different session players contributed saxophone tracks to this song, and it reached No. 63 on the U.S. charts.
- "FM (No Static at All)": It really sounds like it should be a part of the Aja album, but "FM" is actually from a film soundtrack released about the same time. In fact, the song was recorded the same time Aja was being laid down. It's a time capsule, however, for those who remember when AM and FM radio competed for listeners with their different music formats. Streaming Internet radio anyone?