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Morph The Cat (2006)
Donald Fagen

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User Rating: 5 / 5 [ Add Your Rating ]

Name:  Juergen Martens <>
Rating:  5 / 5
Comments:  A message to all Dan and DF fans: A new Donald Fagen CD entitled "Morph The Cat" is due for release in February or March '06 on Warner. Watch out for it - first earwitness reports say it's brillant, and even the ever-selfcritical artist himself says that it won't get much better than this!

Name:  Juergen Martens
Rating:  4 / 5
Comments:  Well, now it's out and I'm having to correct my advance rating a bit to the minus side. Of course this is great, category-defying music, just as Fagenesque as it gets with its sophisticated harmonies and unique melodies that you won't ever whistle in the streets. But like Kamakiriad and the last 2 SD records did, this one too gets pretty boring after some time. The reason for this is the almost never-changing midtempo groove - "robo-sleek" a Rolling Stone reviewer called it - that gives all songs an air of silent resignation, like, hey, we're no youngsters any more, let us have our time, OK? Just put on your copy of AJA, listen to any given song, and you'll know what I mean, being stunned again and again about the sheer amount of cool twists in arrangements, grooves and hooks. And sorry, guys (yeah, you too, Walt!), that's the benchmark for your work, the rest of your lives, may your efforts be as flawless as it gets and outstanding compared to the competition (if there ever had been any...) Oh, by the way, Morph The Cat is sounds awesome and features great Rhodes as well as "Whirly" (he-he) piano work by Fagen himself and longtime SD sideman Ted Baker.

Name:  James Cawlfield
Rating:  5 / 5
Comments:  One of the most intriguing things about Morph The Cat is that Fagen has revealed it to be the third and final installment of a trilogy. I’ve rediscovered “The Nightfly” and “Kamakiriad” with fresh ears all over again because of that, and all three albums fit together as neatly and seamlessly as any of his arrangements. I could write volumes about this music, but as a musician who has studied (more like scrutinized to the point of damn near climbing down into the vinyl grooves and into this guy’s head and LIVED in) this music for the past 30 years I believe that Donald Fagen is maturing like a fine wine. Interviews surrounding the release of this album reveal that he’s more comfortable with himself as an artist than he’s ever been in his career. It shows. In his performing, singing, storytelling, arranging - in every aspect of his art, his confidence and ease with himself as an artist shines brilliantly. Not to disparage his earlier work in any way, but I’m glad to see him continuing to evolve. Is this another Aja? Certainly not. There will never be another Aja. But do we need another Aja? No; we’ve already got one. And what an eargasm it is. And now we've got Morph The Cat. And what a damn cool cat HE is! Every time I listen to it I find something new. It's like examining a diamond and marvelling at the unique views offered by each facet.

And of course there’s Rhodes all over the place. I particularly love the shimmery “alien” sound of it on Mary Shut The Garden Door (an ominous and disconcerting plea from a paranoid narrator who sounds suspiciously like Lester the Nightfly. As does the narrator on Tomorrow’s Girls from the Kamakiriad album, but now I’m really digressing.)

In summary I’m thrilled to have another LP (yes, Morph is available on LP - it sounds freaking awesome) from this very interesting “Rabelaisian” mind to study, dissect, analyze, scrutinize, and get all groovy with. Whatever will he/they think of next? Maybe a full-blown Rhodes solo on the next one? It’s been a long time since they threw us one of those. All watch the skies…

James Cawlfield
Houston, Texas

Name:  JM
Rating:  5 / 5
Comments:  Hi. It's me for a third time around. Having not listened to MORPH for some time and given it another try these days, I must say - HEY! No one writes tunes like these, uses harmonies like these, picks themes like these. In a kind of way you could call DF the Monk of our time - aloof, independent, not belonging to any kind of "school" whatsoever and doing only what his artistic integrity demands. With more people like him around, today's overall music could sound way more interesting. Straight 5 now from me. Period.