When Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker died in 2017, his partner in crime Donald Fagen decided to keep the band name alive. Although it’s been eighteen years since their last studio album, Everything Must Go, the band had remained a steady touring act. Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live!, consists of recordings from their most recent American tour.
Frustratingly, Northeast Corridor does not contain a full Steely Dan concert. Instead, Steely Dan treats us to what is essentially a career retrospective; the band revisits all their albums save for Katy Lied and Two Against Nature. Furthermore, the album is somewhat repetitive, with five of the songs also appearing on their previous live album, Alive In America. Aja is represented the most, with three of the album’s seven tracks appearing here, and the three songs selected, “Black Cow,” “Peg,” and “Aja” are easily some of Northeast Corridor’s highlights.
As one would expect, this live incarnation of Steely Dan sounds impeccable. Nothing sounds out of place; even the looser moments on “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” feel intentional. That’s not to say that these performances are sterile or soullessly pristine, but they certainly feel more live than the almost-too-slick Alive In America collection. Best of all is a delightful funky jam of “Bodhisattva,” a frenetic workout that will get your feet moving.
Becker’s death could have brought an end to Steely Dan, and it would have been understandable. Northeast Corridor shows that Fagen was right to keep the band going, as Becker’s replacements do a fine job of filling his very big shoes. While it would be nice to have a full live performance, Northeast Corridor is a fine document of the live Steely Dan experience.
Purchase Steely Dan Northeast Corridor: Amazon