Know when it’s time to go…

Written by on September 25, 2021

Following the recent death of Charlie Watts there was some debate online about whether the Rolling Stones should continue to tour. The dates they have just started were planned and had a stand in drummer, presumably with Watts’ blessing, already in place. The legal costs of cancelling were probably pretty high as well. What happens after that is clearly up to them. But with a fair few older bands and players coming out of hibernation it does beg the question. When is it time to stop?

The pictures of a very doddery looking Phil Collins fronting Genesis from a chair was another slightly sad moment. I get that he can’t play drums anymore, that’s a physical thing, but the videos online suggest his voice, while better than some, is certainly not what it was. His body language said that he wasn’t enjoying the experience either, so why do it? The fans will always want more music, but as our heroes age it is probably better that they stop while they still have some shred of respectability left. For some however it’s too late…

I’m a Steely Dan fan, and have been for a long, long time. Half of the partnership, guitarist Waler Becker, passed away in 2017. The other half, Donald Fagen, continues to tour under the Steely Dan name, and this week (24th September 2021) has released two live albums. One is a live version of his own album “The Nightfly”. The other is a compilation of Steely Dan songs. Both were recorded in 2019. There’s no polite way of saying it, but Fagen’s voice is shot to pieces. “The Nightfly” isn’t too bad, but it’s still noticeable that the best songs are the ones, like “Maxine”, dominated by the backing singers, but the Steely Dan album, excitingly titled “Northeast Corridor,” is a mess. Along with his inability to hit half the notes, the band sound under rehearsed with some wayward playing and production that makes it sound like a poor-quality bootleg. As both of these are single discs, with no booklet to speak of, and in the case of “The Nightfly” only 40 minutes long, the whole production feels lazy. While many older bands pump out an album from every tour these are the first live recordings from Fagen since 1996. No wonder there are so many records of dubious origin available as Steely Dan product on Amazon. A nice 5 or 6 CD bootleg beating box set with a nice book and maybe a DVD would have been welcome and netted Mr. Fagen a nice fat boost to his pension.

Donald, like Paul McCartney, who sounds every bit of his 79 years on the otherwise excellent documentary he has out, needs to have someone whisper in his ear that he is embarrassing himself and his family by keeping on. It would also be a good plan to have the same chat with the Stones, involving the phrase “depart with dignity” at some point. Many of the idols of the 60s, 70s and even 80s are getting on, and we will end up before too many years are passed being left only with our memories of them. Let’s make them good ones…

 

Produced By Tim Martin

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