Countdown to Ecstasy

Countdown to Ecstasy

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Countdown to Ecstasy is the second album by rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 group Steely Dan
Steely Dan
Steely Dan is an American rock band; its core members are Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. The band's popularity peaked in the late 1970s, with the release of seven albums blending elements of jazz, rock, funk, R&B, and pop...

, released in July 1973. The album was written and recorded in rushed sessions between live concerts and produced two Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

 hits, "Show Biz Kids" and "My Old School".

History


The album was originally released in two-channel stereo
STEREO
STEREO is a solar observation mission. Two nearly identical spacecraft were launched into orbits that cause them to respectively pull farther ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth...

 and also in a special four-channel quadrophonic mix. There are some significant musical differences between the two mixes.

A live version of the song "Bodhisattva" was used as the B-side for both "Hey Nineteen
Hey Nineteen
"Hey Nineteen" is a song by American jazz rock band Steely Dan, written by members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, and released on their 1980 album Gaucho.-Story:...

" and "Babylon Sisters", released as singles in the 1980s.

"Bodhisattva" is a playable track in the video game Rock Band 2
Rock Band 2
Rock Band 2 is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems. It is the sequel to Rock Band and is the second title in the series. The game allows up to four players to simulate the performance of popular songs by playing with controllers modeled after musical instruments...

, while "My Old School" is featured as downloadable content
Downloadable content
Downloadable content is official additional content for a video game distributed through the Internet. Downloadable content can be of several types, ranging from a single in-game outfit to an entirely new, extensive storyline, similarly to an expansion pack. As such, DLC may add new game modes,...

.

The cover art to the album originally included only the three pink figures seated up front, but because there were five musicians who played on the album (they are pictured on the back) the two ghostly figures to the left were added by the record company to "balance" it out.

Reception


Countdown to Ecstasy was well regarded as a sophomore
Sophomore
Sophomore is a term used in the United States to describe a student in the second year of study at high school or university.The word is also used as a synonym for "second", for the second album or EP released by a musician or group, the second movie of a director, or the second season of a...

 effort coming in higher by many reviewers than its predecessor. A reviewer in Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

stated "[T]he Steelies strike gold and really boogie". Allmusic praised the album for being riskier and more sophisticated than their debut, commenting, "Countdown to Ecstasy is the only time Steely Dan played it relatively straight, and its eight songs are rich with either musical or lyrical detail that their album rock or art rock contemporaries couldn't hope to match."

Side one

  1. "Bodhisattva" – 5:19
  2. "Razor Boy" – 3:11
  3. "The Boston Rag" – 5:40
  4. "Your Gold Teeth" – 7:02

Side two

  1. "Show Biz Kids" – 5:25
  2. "My Old School" – 5:47
  3. "Pearl of the Quarter" – 3:50
  4. "King of the World" – 5:04

Personnel


Steely Dan
  • Donald Fagen
    Donald Fagen
    Donald Jay Fagen is an American musician and songwriter, best known as the co-founder, lead singer, and the principal songwriter of the rock band Steely Dan ....

     - piano
    Piano
    The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

    , electric piano
    Electric piano
    An electric piano is an electric musical instrument.Electric pianos produce sounds mechanically and the sounds are turned into electrical signals by pickups. Unlike a synthesizer, the electric piano is not an electronic instrument, but electro-mechanical. The earliest electric pianos were invented...

    , synthesizer
    Synthesizer
    A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

    , vocals
  • Walter Becker
    Walter Becker
    Walter Carl Becker is an American musician, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as the co-founder, guitarist, bassist and a co-writer of Steely Dan.-Career:...

     - electric bass
    Bass guitar
    The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

    , harmonica
    Harmonica
    The harmonica, also called harp, French harp, blues harp, and mouth organ, is a free reed wind instrument used primarily in blues and American folk music, jazz, country, and rock and roll. It is played by blowing air into it or drawing air out by placing lips over individual holes or multiple holes...

    , vocals
    Singing
    Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice, and augments regular speech by the use of both tonality and rhythm. One who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music known as songs that can be sung either with or without accompaniment by musical instruments...

  • Ray Brown
    Ray Brown (musician)
    Raymond Matthews Brown was an American jazz double bassist.-Biography:Ray Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and had piano lessons from the age of eight. After noticing how many pianists attended his high school, he thought of taking up the trombone, but was unable to afford one...

     - string bass on "Razor Boy"
  • Denny Dias
    Denny Dias
    Denny Dias is an American guitarist, most known for being a founding member of Steely Dan.- Career :Dias was working with his own band out of his basement in Hicksville, Long Island, when he placed an ad in The Village Voice that read: "Looking for keyboardist and bassist. Must have jazz chops!...

     - guitar
    Guitar
    The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

    , Stereo Mixmaster General
  • Jeff "Skunk" Baxter
    Jeff Baxter
    Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is an American guitarist, known for his stints in the rock bands Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers during the 1970s...

     - guitar, pedal steel guitar
    Pedal steel guitar
    The pedal steel guitar is a type of electric guitar that uses a metal bar to "fret" or shorten the length of the strings, rather than fingers on strings as with a conventional guitar. Unlike other types of steel guitar, it also uses pedals and knee levers to affect the pitch, hence the name "pedal"...

  • Ben Benay - acoustic guitar
    Steel-string acoustic guitar
    A steel-string acoustic guitar is a modern form of guitar descended from the classical guitar, but strung with steel strings for a brighter, louder sound...

  • Rick Derringer
    Rick Derringer
    Rick Derringer is an American guitarist, vocalist, and entertainer.-1960s:When he was seventeen years old, his band The McCoys recorded "Hang on Sloopy" in the summer of 1965, which became the number one song in America before "Yesterday" by The Beatles knocked it out of the top spot. The song was...

     - slide guitar
    Slide guitar
    Slide guitar or bottleneck guitar is a particular method or technique for playing the guitar. The term slide refers to the motion of the slide against the strings, while bottleneck refers to the original material of choice for such slides: the necks of glass bottles...

     on "Show Biz Kids"
  • Jim Hodder
    Jim Hodder (musician)
    Jim Hodder was an American drummer, best known as the original drummer for Steely Dan.He was born in Boston in 1947. As drummer/vocalist, he was a member of the band Bead Game, which released one album titled "Welcome" in 1970 on Avco/Embassy...

     - drums
    Drum kit
    A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

    , percussion
    Percussion instrument
    A percussion instrument is any object which produces a sound when hit with an implement or when it is shaken, rubbed, scraped, or otherwise acted upon in a way that sets the object into vibration...

    , vocals
  • Victor Feldman
    Victor Feldman
    Victor Stanley Feldman was a British jazz musician, best known as a pianist.-Early history:...

     - vibes
    Vibraphone
    The vibraphone, sometimes called the vibraharp or simply the vibes, is a musical instrument in the struck idiophone subfamily of the percussion family....

    , marimba
    Marimba
    The marimba is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It consists of a set of wooden keys or bars with resonators. The bars are struck with mallets to produce musical tones. The keys are arranged as those of a piano, with the accidentals raised vertically and overlapping the natural keys ...

    , percussion
  • Ernie Watts
    Ernie Watts
    Ernest James "Ernie" Watts is an American jazz and rhythm and blues musician. He plays saxophone and flute. He might be best known for his work with Charlie Haden's Quartet West and his Grammy Awards as an instrumentalist...

     - saxophone
    Saxophone
    The saxophone is a conical-bore transposing musical instrument that is a member of the woodwind family. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1846...

  • Johnny Rotella - saxophone
  • Lanny Morgan - saxophone
  • Bill Perkins
    Bill Perkins (saxophonist)
    Bill Perkins was a cool jazz saxophonist and flutist popular on the West Coast jazz scene, known primarily as a tenor saxophonist. Born in San Francisco, California, Perkins started out performing in the big bands of Woody Herman and Jerry Wald. He also worked for the Stan Kenton orchestra, which...

     - saxophone
  • Sherlie Matthews
    Sherlie Matthews
    Sherlie Matthews is an American singer, songwriter and record producer, best known as a backing vocalist for Pop, R&B and Rock groups from the mid 1960s to the present time.-Early life:...

     - background vocals
  • Myrna Matthews - background vocals
  • Patricia Hall - background vocals
  • David Palmer
    David Palmer (vocalist)
    David Palmer is an American vocalist and songwriter, most noted for his lead vocals on the Steely Dan song "Dirty Work" and as lyricist of the Carole King #2 hit, "Jazzman". Palmer was born and raised in Warren Township, Watchung, New Jersey....

     - background vocals
  • Royce Jones
    Royce Jones
    Royce Jones is a Grammy-winning American musician best known for his work as a touring vocalist with the bands Steely Dan and Ambrosia...

     - background vocals
  • James Rolleston - background vocals
  • Michael Fennelly
    Michael Fennelly
    Michael Fennelly is an American musician known for his work as a singer and songwriter in the 1960s and 1970s, notably in The Millennium and Crabby Appleton....

     - background vocals
  • Jake Richardson - cowbell

Covers

  • American
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     rock band Toto
    Toto (band)
    Toto is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1977. The group currently consists of Joseph Williams , David Paich , Steve Porcaro , Steve Lukather , Mike Porcaro , and Simon Phillips . Toto is known for a musical style that combines elements of pop, rock, soul, funk, progressive rock, hard...

     covered "Bodhisattva" on their 2002 Through the Looking Glass
    Through the Looking Glass (Toto album)
    Through the Looking Glass is the 11th studio album by the American band Toto. It was released in 2002, three years after their last studio release, "Mindfields." The album consists of covers of songs that have inspired the band.-Reception:...

    album.
  • American
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     swing band Brian Setzer Orchestra covered "Bodhisattva" in 2000 for the movie Me, Myself & Irene soundtrack.

Production

  • Producer: Gary Katz
    Gary Katz
    Gary Katz is an American music producer, best known for his work with Steely Dan.-Steely Dan:Katz is most famous for his work as a producer on every Steely Dan album recorded during the first run of their career, from Can't Buy A Thrill in 1972 to Gaucho in 1980, as well as the Donald Fagen solo...

  • Engineer: Roger Nichols
  • Assistant engineer - Miss Natalie
  • Album design: Dotty of Hollywood
  • Photography: Ed Caraeff


Reissue
  • Reissue Producers: Walter Becker, Donald Fagen
  • Remastering engineer: Roger Nichols
  • Reissue design: Red Herring Design, New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

  • Consultant: Daniel Levitin
    Daniel Levitin
    Professor Daniel J. Levitin, Ph.D. is a prominent American cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist, record producer, musician, and writer...


Charts


Album
Year Chart Position
1973 Pop Albums 35


Pop Singles
Year Single Label & number Position
1973 "My Old School" (B-side: "Pearl Of The Quarter) ABC 11396 63
1973 "Show Biz Kids" (B-side: "Razor Boy") ABC 11382 61