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Walter Becker/Steely Dan

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by bass555, Jul 16, 2005.

  1. bass555


    Mar 16, 2005
    What does everyone think about Becker as a bassist? I love Chuck Rainey on 'Aja' but what are essential Becker lines?

    Did anyone else play bass w/Steely Dan? (Abe Laboriel or Will Lee?)
  2. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I like his playing, but don't "love it". He has great tone (Sadowsky). we'll thought out lines, but he seems to "clinical " to me on the latter stuff. It almost sounds "machine" like. As far as I know Rainey and Becker played all of the Dan stuff ( I don't have Gaucho) with the exception of "Two Against Nature and Live in America " with Tom Barney. Fagen did two solo albums which sound like SD, they include Marcus Miller, Anthony Jackson, Abe Laborial, and Will Lee, not a bad lineup!
  3. audiotom


    May 31, 2005
    new orleans
    Live Becker's been playing bluesy guitar licks
    Two Against Nature - three cuts are TOm Barney, the rest Walter. Last record Everything Must Go featured Walter patching in bass lines on all cuts - he has nice understated lines not as funky as Chuck. Live Barney has been his go to bassist the last 3 tours with strong results - Walter played rythum and lead guitar with Jon Herrington playing the searing leads of Carlton and other studio aces

    for a walter Steely signature bass line try Deacon Blues from Aja
  4. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    I like his playing, it's a nice change from the notey stuff Rainey and other session guys were doing. Time Out Of Mind (Gaucho) is a neat track.
  5. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Ray Brown played an upright on "Razor Boy," Wilton Felder appeared in a few spots on the Katy Lied album, Anthony Jackson played on "Gaucho" the album, but I'm not sure which tracks. Becker plays on most of the new stuff, I'll have to dig out my CD covers to see where.

    EDIT: Basically, if it doesn't sound overly jazzy or funky, it's probably Becker. He doesn't like an overly bright sound, either. Check out the "Everyone's Gone to the Movies" demo version from the box set to hear some pretty neat grooves. He's also good on "Rikki" and "Do it Again" in my opinion. Some of Steely Dan's stuff is pretty out there musically, and he does a good job of putting a nice line to a bazaar set of changes. I like him better as a guitarist, though.
  6. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I thought Felder played on some of that early stuff, i just couldn't dig it up. Man, talk about an under-appreciated bass player. He was obviously a lot more well known for his sax work with the Crusaders. I read in an interview with him somewhere that he refused to play sax for anybody but the Crusaders, because he thought his tone was such an essential element to their sound.
  7. I think Becker's work (and tone) on the 2003 album "Everything Must Go" is sublime. :smug: :smug:

    I much prefer his bass playing to his guitar work which I find a bit "noodling" and generic. :meh: I'd love to hear the 'Dan live with Becker on Bass and Carlton on Lead Guitar. :D :D

    Won't hold my breath though. ;) ;)
  8. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I absolutely love his groove on "The Things I Miss The Most" on the latest album "Everything Must Go". On guitar he sounds like a bass player playing guitar to me. (Sting does, too, bigtime when he plays guitar on "Bring On The Night").
  9. Too true. :) :)
  10. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Becker is the bassist on "Deacon Blue" on Aja. I find his sparser style works better than Rainey's busier lines.
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I can't imagine "Kid Charlemange", "Green Earrings", "The Fez", "Your Gold Teeth II", "Josie", "Don't Take Me Alive"...with Becker on bass.

    As far as Anthony Jackson-
    He played on Gaucho's "Glamour Profession"(a great, great part & a very difficult to get 'right', IMO) & "My Rival"(better de-tune or have a 5-string for those "Eb"s).
  12. I heard Chuck Rainey say one time that Dan used 3 different bassists for Gaucho - him, Will Lee, and Anthony Jackson. All 3 played the whole record and the Dan chose the bass tracks they wanted. Apparently Will did not make the cut.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I agree entirely - virtually all my favourite Dan tracks are with Chuck Rainey on bass - for me he really defines the best of their funk/jazz/rock mix.

    I think Deacon Blue is a perfect example for me, of a decent tune that is made melancholy and slightly depressing by Becker's "plodding" bass line....:(

    When listening in my car, I often skip over that track for this reason - to get to the more up-beat, funky, danceable tracks!
  14. Becker is pretty straight ahead and i find myself missing the more busier style of Rainey. But on recent releases it works for me. Does becker play with a pick by the way?
  15. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Tom Barney has been Steeley Dans bassist and musical director well over 10 years. To my knowlegde Tom is the only bassist that tours with them, He also does studio work all over the place as well as the play "lion king" in NYC. He has stated to me he's about ready to retire from the industry.
    Btw' He's a childhood friend :D

  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I really like Tom Barney's playing as well - although there hasn't been enough on record - but the last DVD is worth buying for this reason alone! :)

    It's also interesting to hear/see Walter talk in interviews as it's clear that he really rates guys like Barney and Rainey and is aware of his own limitations....but I suppose in the studio maybe he writes things around a bass line and then it stays there...?
  17. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Oops, I forgot to clarify. I think Becker's style works better on "Deacon Blue" specifically. Rainey's lines are definitely more interesting overall.
  18. Becker did some good stuff on Can't buy a thrill.