The reason to pick up the CD reissues of the classic Steely Dan albums is not so much for the improved sound quality - I'm sure Fagen and Becker still find the fidelity distressingly poor - as for the liner notes. In Katy Lied, for instance, F&B pretend to traduce the group's transmogrification from real-live touring band to studio product, although they never really provide any sort of factual background for such a move, except that they didn't like touring. (OPC has known for a long time that liner notes are an excellent way to mine nuggets for this blog.) The most pertinent bit of info I could divine from the Katy liner is that new drummer Jeff Porcaro (now the late Jeff Porcaro) missed the first night of recording because he was at a party at Cher's house.
But the writing itself is deliciously Dan-ish. They describe ideal gigs as "crisp and stirring recitals of the latest cutting-edge jazz-pop ditties for appreciative audiences in near-ideal acoustical environments," but unfortunately, they later describe "our final '70s touring band, which on one or two magical evenings may have sounded almost good." How exactly this turn of events came about is left up to the reader, as is most of the actual constuction of Katy Lied. This may be because, F&B ultimately allow, "A replaying of the Katy Lied album proper, for the purposes of refreshing our failing memories, is out of the question."
I know what they mean. I wasn't really thrilled about revisiting "Bad Sneakers," either.