The music that they brought was complex and well orchestrated, with most songs displaying a significant jazz influence. Fagan's unique voice backed by sweet harmonies and irresistible musical hooks made the sound beautiful and timeless, and the cerebral and ironic lyrics were hip, sarcastic, and witty- touching on topics such as international crime, affairs, personal demons, regrets, society, and lost love.
Initially -pre Steely Dan- the two played in a handful of bands together, including Bad Rock Group, featuring comedic actor Chevy Chase on drums (!). They also performed under pseudonyms in Jay and the Americans' backing band, but a real break came when Babara Streisand chose to record the Fagan/Becker-penned "I Mean to Shine" in 1971.
Interestingly, Donald Fagan initially lacked confidence in his voice and suffered from substantial stage-fright... it took some effort to convince him that he could -and should- sing lead later in the newly-formed Steely Dan.
In contrast to hippy icon Janis Joplin falling-down drunk at Woodstock, Fagan and Becker are known for near-obsessive perfectionism in the recording studio, very difficult to work with... they really took their business and art seriously.
The Dan toured for a couple years in the early 1970s, but by 1975 had gone studio-only. After seven albums the pair disbanded in 1981, leaving the music world for a decade. But in the early 90s, the group (surprisingly) resumed playing live concerts: since, they've released two albums of new material, the first of which earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. As it stands, Steely Dan has now sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.
And in my humble opinion, the songs below are nothing short of musical masterpieces- but not unusual for Steely Dan, pretty much the only kind of stuff they ever did, including Fagan's solo album The Nightfly.
Yeah, in case you can't tell: I absolutely adore this band, always have: can't imagine ever getting sick of listening to such greatness... what a class act.