Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
Can't Buy a Thrill is a perfect album. Though Donald Fagen and Walter Becker had been playing together since their days at Bard—including a stint as the touring band for Jay and the Americans—it wasn't until this 1972 recording that they formally had their own band together, even if that band included David Palmer, whose voice, while more "commercial," lacks the smokey, ne'er-do-well quality of Fagen's nasally croak.
Right from the top kick of "Do It Again," listeners are introduced to the lowlifes, hustlers and punks that populate the Daniverse. And this album has them all--the hapless fuckboy of "Dirty Work," the aging hipsters of "Midnight Cruiser" the rambling bums that populate Brooklyn. But alongside bleak tracks like "Fire in the Hole," there is also lovely hope on tracks like "Change of the Guard." It's an album that spans the gamut of the human emotional spectrum.
And "Reelin' In the Years" has Elliot Randall's iconic guitar solo. These days, Jon Harrington is tasked with playing it live, and if you listen closely, I swear that it's basically a map of the female orgasm.
It's not the best Steely Dan album (that would be The Royal Scam) but it's a hell of a start.