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Rock Hall Anniversary: Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic

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In February 1974, Steely Dan released their third album Pretzel Logic. Once again produced by Gary Katz (who produced the band’s first two albums), the album continued their acclaimed sound of jazz rock, becoming one of their most critically lauded works.

The eleven tracks on Pretzel Logic were written by principal members Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, with the exception of one. The track “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” was originally recorded by Duke Ellington (who wrote it with trumpeter Bubber Miley). However, Ellington and Miley would not be the only influences on the album. The introduction to the opener “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” has an introductory riff that nods to a song by Horace Silver, while “Parker’s Band” is an ode to Charlie “Bird” Parker. Other key tracks on the album include “Any Major Dude Will Tell You”, “Through with Buzz”, and the title track.

Hence the title of the album, the cover of Pretzel Logic features a photograph of a New York pretzel seller, located near Central Park. Upon its release, the album was a huge success. It peaked at number eight on the charts, and selling over a million copies. The song “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” peaked at number four, becoming Steely Dan’s biggest hit. The album was and still is universally praised by critics. It was named one of the top albums of 1974 by NME magazine and the Village Voice, and retrospectively named one of the 500 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone, who also places the album in their album guide.