Donald Fagen : Kamakiriad
(Reprise - 1993)
Category : underrated
Don't let the reviews of those stuckup professionals fool you. They would have you believe that 'Kamakiriad' is one of Fagen's lesser efforts and certainly not of the same quality as the material he released with Walter Becker under the Steely Dan monicker. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everything on Kamakiriad is just as strong, if not stronger than any Steely Dan album with the exception of 'Can't Buy a Thrill'. The only difference is that the songs on Kamakiriad are funkier on average and that they sound lighter and more playful than most Steely Dan material. It's also not as jazzy as 'Nightfly', Fagen's first solo album that certainly got him more praise than this one. In fact, the album that most resembles 'Kamakiriad' is probably Steely Dan's 'Two Against Nature' with the difference that 'Kamakiriad' is more consistent in the (high) instant appeal of the vocal melodies. Also, people who know and enjoyed the single 'Brite Nightgown' (from the 'Morph the Cat' solo album) will find lots to enjoy on 'Kamakiriad' as that song comes very close to everything that's on this CD.
'Kamakiriad' isn't completely flawless. The track 'On the Dunes' falls a bit flat. And another thing that's "wrong" with the album is the fact that it doesn't really have standout tracks. But then again, I feel other Steely Dan and Fagen CD's that got a better reception from the press, have the same problem. But the good thing is that the overall quality of 'Kamakiriad' as a whole is high enough to mark it as a strong offering and also as Fagen's best and most pleasing solo effort to date.
It comes recommended to anyone who's into Funky Pop and Smooth Jazz.
Note: Fagen's best solo track ever doesn't feature on any of his albums. The Jazzy semi-instrumental 'True Companion', that's crammed with pleasing fluent guitar playing, could for a long time only be found on the classic 'Heavy Metal animated movie' soundtrack. It's now also present on a Donald Fagen sampler called 'Gold' and in a 4 CD box set called 'The Nightfly trilogy', containing his first three solo albums and a CD with extras.