Circus Money

Circus Money

Fourteen years since his last solo album — 1994’s Eleven Tracks of Whack, on which his Steely Dan cohort Donald Fagen co-produced and played keyboards — 2008’s Circus Money exists in its own time (and without Fagen), reminiscent of Steely Dan’s meticulous arrangements and sardonic lyrical ideas, yet carrying its own peculiar obsessions to the finish line. Becker’s bass reflects an interest in reggae and Caribbean rhythms (“Bob Is Not Your Uncle Anymore”), while his limited vocal range leaves him nearly speaking at times (Door Number Two”) and sounding devilish and on the make elsewhere (“Upside Looking Down”). Produced by fellow virtuoso Larry Klein, the songs travel with carefully placed piano chords (“Paging Audrey”) and bursts of horn (“Circus Money”). “Downtown Canon” recalls coked out New York City episodes with a decadent organ bringing on a 1970’s night. “Somebody’s Saturday Night” observes the fate of weekend pickups with a cadre of sultry back-up singers evoking the nightclub scene. “Three Picture Deal” involves Hollywood sleaze with a correspondingly smug jazz-like arrangement. Circus Money is a welcomed idiosyncratic gem.

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