5 Things to Know About Steely Dan's 'Aja'

Group co-founders Fagen and Becker to play classic songs at Verizon Wireless this weekend.

Cover of Steely Dan's "Aja."
Cover of Steely Dan's "Aja."
Attention, Baby Boomers and fans of classic 20th Century music.

Jazz-rock legends Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan bring their tour to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in Alpharetta Saturday. On many stops, the pair -- with back-up band The Bipolar AllStars and three singers – start the show playing all of the songs on "Aja," Steely Dan's sixth album.

In honor of the 1977 classic recording, here are five things to know about "Aja," whether you're going to the show or just want to take a trip down memory lane.

1. Where did the title come from? The standard answer is that Fagen had a high-school friend whose brother was in the Army and married a Korean woman named Aja. (Although Fagen may have taken liberties with the spelling.)

2. How successful was it? Despite its heavy jazz influence, the album was the group's best-selling album, selling more than 5 million copies. Only Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" and Billy Joel's "The Stranger" outsold the popular album in the U.S. that year.

3. What did critics think of "Aja"? It was ranked 145th on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list in 2003. To show the group's critical appeal, readers of DownBeat magazine, the longtime jazz publication, voted "Aja" Beyond Album of the Year for 1978 and 1979.

4. Who played the solo on the title track? Wayne Shorter, co-founder of the influential jazz group Weather Report, played the blistering sax solo.

5. How many guitarists did it take to finally settle on the solo for "Peg?" Fagen and Becker are known perfectionists. They brought in seven or eight guitarists, finally working for hours with Jay Graydon. Graydon later became known as a producer for such performers as George Benson, Al Jarreau and Manhattan Transfer.


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