Steely Dan Brought ‘Quality And Sophistication’ To Rock Music, Jeff Baxter Says

In a recent conversation with MOJO, Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter said he thinks Steely Dan made rock music better with their sophisticated style.

The magazine sat down with the guitarist to honor the best 30 Steely Dan songs. When asked about the band’s most important contribution to music, Baxter replied:

“Certainly the quality, sophistication and the cleverness of the songwriting was a major factor. Also the extremely high standard of care and perfection in the recording of the music.”

Steely Dan’s Recording Quality

He went on to praise their engineer Roger Nichols:

“Roger Nichols, the engineer for the vast majority of the Steely Dan albums, was a genius and his recording acumen still stands as the benchmark, reflecting his brilliance as an engineer and his knowledge and application of cutting-edge recording technologies. Steely Dan albums have pretty much become the standard by which others try to measure the quality of their recording.”

Steve Albini Doesn’t Like The Band’s Music

However, not everyone thinks like Jeff about Steely Dan’s music. Last year, producer Steve Albini criticized their approach to music, writing on X:

“I will always be the kind of punk that sh*ts on Steely Dan. Christ, the amount of human effort wasted to sound like an SNL band warm-up.”

After his tweet, he got into a feud with Steely Dan fans who defended the band. Albini responded to the comments with his follow-up tweets:

“‘They spent three weeks on the guitar solo….’ Three weeks of watching guitar players give it their all while doing bumps and hitting the talkback, ‘More *Egyptian* but keep it in the pocket….’ Look at yourselves. Calling them ‘the Dan.’ Go trim your beard. [There are] two types of perfectionists: One will prepare, revise, and rehearse carefully, with intent, honing an idea to a keen edge, ready to cut the cloth of execution. The other makes other people responsible by saying, ‘Do it again,’ until, by chance, they are satisfied, then take credit.”

In the rest of his tweets, Albini also called Steely Dan a ‘wedding band’ and criticized them for pretending like their songs are rooted in blues and jazz.