[Review] Steely Dan: Greatest Hits 1972-1978 (1978)

The first Steely Dan compilation sold over a million copies and became a staple in contemporary record collections.

Kronomyth 7.0: Apparently, you can buy a thrill.

This one checks off a lot of the imaginary boxes that I have for a great greatest hits collection: a generous helping of all the essential hits (more or less), presented in chronological order, with a “new” track for fans who had faithfully bought everything up to this point (Here at the Western World). Check, check and checkaroonie.

As a kid, I was fascinated by Steely Dan’s exotic pop sensibilities and consummated my affections by making this my first purchase from their catalog. Now, instead of waiting for a Steely Dan song to roll around on the radio (which, thankfully, was never that long a wait), I had their hits at my command, minus “Deacon Blues” and “Black Cow.” And I took advantage of that luxury, frequently queuing up both of these records on my turntable, particularly the third side.

Time has since done us the disservice of erasing Greatest Hits 1972-1978 in favor of the more expansive Showbiz Kids. At the time of its release, however, Greatest Hits was the greatest single helping of Steely Dan, cementing their status as one of the ‘70s pre-eminent songwriters through its platinum sales. For the casual listener, this may be all the Steely Dan you need to own. In fact, there must have been music-tasters whose record collections consisted solely of compilations by Kiss (Double Platinum), Eagles (Their Greatest Hits), Steve Miller Band (Greatest Hits), The Beatles (1962-1966, 1967-1970), The Beach Boys (Endless Summer), etc. They were cornerstones in my collection too (okay, maybe not so much Kiss).

In the 1980s, MCA reissued this compilation on all media including the new compact disc format, which now fit on a single disc. Since a proper remaster of Greatest Hits has never been attempted, you might want to forego this in favor of Showbiz Kids or, you know, pick up all the Steely Dan records through Gaucho. “Here at the Western World” is definitely worth hearing more than once, but you’ve got more than one option to owning it.

Original 2LP version

A1. Do It Again (5:50)
A2. Reelin’ in the Years (4:35)
A3. My Old School (5:45)
A4. Bodhisattva (5:18)
B1. Show Biz Kids (5:21)
B2. East St. Louis Toodle-oo (Duke Ellington/Bubber Miley) (2:46)
B3. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (4:34)
B4. Pretzel Logic (4:30)
B5. Any Major Dude Will Tell You (3:06)
C1. Here at the Western World (4:00)
C2. Black Friday (3:39)
C3. Bad Sneakers (3:16)
C4. Doctor Wu (3:53)
C5. Haitian Divorce (5:48)
D1. Kid Charlemagne (4:38)
D2. The Fez (Walter Becker/Donald Fagen/Paul Griffin) (3:54)
D3. Peg (3:54)
D4. Josie (4:30)

All songs written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen unless noted.

Original 8-track version
A1. Do It Again
A2. Reeling in the Years
A3. My Old School
A4. Black Friday
B1. Bodhisattva
B2. Show Biz Kids
B3. Pretzel Logic
B4. Kid Charlemagne
C1. Any Major Dude Will Tell You
C2. Here at the Western World
C3. Bad Sneakers
C4. Doctor Wu
C5. Haitian Divorce
D1. East St. Louis Toodle-oo
D2. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number
D3. The Fez (Walter Becker/Donald Fagen/Paul Griffin)
D4. Peg
D5. Josie

The Plastic

Released on 2LP and 8-track in November 1978 in the US (ABC, AK-1107/2, 8020-AK 1107 T), the UK (ABC. ABCD-616), Canada (ABC, 2022-1107) and Japan (ABC, YS-8065/6) with gatefold cover and inner sleeves. Reached #30 on the US charts (RIAA-certified platinum record) and #41 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on 2LP, 2CS and 8-track in March 1982 in the US (MCA, MCA2/MCAC2/MCAT2-6008) with gatefold cover and inner sleeves.
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in Canada (MCA, MCAD-6008).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *