It’s a known fact that I got into Steely Dan through listening to and loving Field Music’s second album, Tones of Town. Criminally underrated at the peak of their powers, Field Music will this month release their fourth album, Plumb—their second since a change of line-up that saw the Brewis brothers augmented by Ian Black and Kevin Dosdale. (You can read my review of this incarnation of Field Music in concert here.)
Nowadays, Field Music sound like a cross between Fleetwood Mac and XTC, but circa Tones of Town there was a delicious interplay between jazz and the baroque in their music, which I recently traced back to a little gem of a song by Steely Dan.
“Through With Buzz”, from 1974′s Pretzel Logic (for a fuller description of that album’s virtues, see here), is a quasi-interlude which sets up the album’s final third. With its crisp piano chords in the first part, yearning strings in the second, and a little foray into Motown in the third, it exemplifies the sophistication in Steely Dan’s arrangements. To see that complexity writ large, listen to its preceding song, “Parker’s Band” (see below).
More to the point, it is flattered by near-emulation in Field Music’s own expository interlude, “A Gap Has Appeared” (see below). The familiar elements are in place: piano-work a lesser listener might compare to Billy Joel; emotive cello; and then a surprisingly vivacious, jazzy drum track.
And that’s how you draw a line from Los Angeles to Tyne & Wear.