The New York Rock & Soul Review
Live at the Beacon
Donald Fagen, Phoebe Snow, Michael McDonald,
Boz Scaggs, Jeff Young, Rascals
Five Scoops of Bosco
Reviewed by Allen Bacon
The Daily Bosco
Editor's Note: In the Bosco Record Vault Series we take a look at past albums that had an impact or were in retrospect important turning points for artists. In this review, on it's 20th anniversary release date, we look at the 1991 Live Album The New York Rock and Soul Review; Live at the Beacon an important time for Steely Dan's Donald Fagen.
In the early 90's, Steely Dan fans were "reeling in the years". There had been no SD Music for over ten years, save for a great Donald Fagen solo album The Nightfly and a couple of songs that appeared in movies. Later the story came out that Fagen was suffering from a combination of writers block and apparent stage fright which extended back to the Steely Dan salad years...the late 70's. Remember, Steely Dan was only doing studio work in the late 70's and early 80's with Fagen and Walter Becker assembling the best musicians they could find for each song.
So, in 1991 Becker is off in Hawaii raising a family and producing great records for the likes of Ricki Lee Jones, and Fagen is doing a variety of projects including writing op-ed pieces for publications. It was in 1991 that it was announced that Fagen would be performing at the famous Beacon Theatre in New York City for the annual Rock and Soul Review. The result was a wonderful live album. The performance was also was the beginning for Fagen and eventually Becker to get back together, write music, make albums, win Grammys and yes even tour once again.
This lineup reads like a who's who of 50's 60's and 70's Rock and Soul Icons. In addition to Fagen the lineup included the late and legendary Charles Brown, The Rascals, Michael McDonald, Phoebe Snow, and Boz Scaggs. Also performing is the late saxophone great, Cornelius Bumphus who appears on many of the legendary Steely Dan albums.
Before this album there was very few legal live Steely Dan recordings. Remember, this is way before SD's Alive in America which was released later in the 1990's. The only song recorded live song was Bodistavta which was a B side on Ricki Don't Lose that Number single. On this album Fagen and Jeff Young and the Youngsters give us live versions of Pretzel Logic (with Michael McDonald reprising his background vocal duties), and Chain Lightening. In addition, Fagen does a live version of one of his solo songs from The Nightfly entitled Green Flower Street