Personnel: Donald Fagen (melodica, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, organ, background vocals); Donald Fagen (vocals); Ken Wessel, Frank Vignola, Hugh McCracken, Ken Emerson (guitar); Howard Levy (harmonica); Roger Rosenberg (bass clarinet, baritone saxophone); Walt Weiskopf (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Mark Patterson (trombone); Ted Baker (piano, Fender Rhodes piano); Tedd Baker (Fender Rhodes piano); Harlan Post, Jr. (acoustic bass); Art Smith (drums); Jennifer Battista, Candice Predham, Eddie Jackson , Camille Meza (clappers); Gordon Gottlieb (percussion, background vocals); Bashiri Johnson , Joe Passaro (percussion); Cindy Mizelle, Jerry Barnes, Amy Helm, Carolyn Leonhart (background vocals); Jon Herington, Wayne Krantz (guitar); Lawrence Feldman (flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone); Illinois Elohainu (flute); Marvin Stamm (trumpet); Phonus Quaver (vibraphone, marimba); "Ready" Freddie Washington (bass guitar); Keith Carlock (drums).
Audio Mixers: Elliot Scheiner; Brian Montgomery.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY; Clinton Recording Studios, New York, NY; Sear Sound, New York, NY; Sugar Sound, Kauai.
Photographer: Danny Clinch.
Donald Fagen may be one of the most subversive artists in the pop/rock world. Unlike, say, Prince or Sinead O'Connor, who've worn their subversion on their sleeves, Steely Dan main man Fagen has wormed his way into the American consciousness (and pop charts) with a deceptively harmless sound. Like the Dan catalog and Fagen's previous solo albums, MORPH THE CAT seems on the surface like ear candy that goes down easy. Lurking just below the skin of Fagen's trademark bouncy grooves and pristine, lite-jazz production, however, is a seamy, disconsolate underworld that bespeaks both a lifelong cynicism and a deliciously morbid sense of humor.
Though MORPH isn't Fagen's first post-9/11outing (that would be Steely Dan's EVERYTHING MUST GO), it deals more explicitly with that world. For all the foreboding expressed in "Mary Shut the Garden Door," though, it takes a narrator as willfully perverse as Fagen to find himself turned on by the airport security officer giving him the once-over in "Security Joan." MORPH THE CAT is prime Fagen, existing in that singular Twilight Zone where Bob James plays the Leonard Cohen songbook and makes you love it.
Rolling Stone (p.64) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[H]is catchiest, most immediate compositions in decades....[The] spirited results prove Fagen can still pop amid his jazz."
Uncut (p.104) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he juxtapositions play out while he reflects on mortality....In 2006, as in 1976, pop music doesn't get any headier than this."
JazzTimes (p.99) - "MORPH THE CAT fans out in all sorts of magical directions, delivering multilayered musings on everything from a skyward feline determined to brighten New York's trampled soul to a bedraggled but bemused traveler eager to hand his heart to a wand-wielding airport-security officer."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.104) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[An] impeccably played, beautifully produced and nicely crafted album."
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