Steely Dan: Gaslighting Abbie
Two Against Nature (Giant 24719)
Donald Fagen (Fender Rhodes, clavinet, vocals), Walter Becker (guitars), Tom Barney (baas), Ricky Lawson (drums), Chris Potter (tenor saxophone), Michael Leonhart (trumpet), Roger Rosenberg (bass clarinet), Jim Pugh (trombone), Lawrence Feldman (clarinet),
Dave Tofani (tenor saxophone), Carolyn Leonhart, Cynthia Calhoun, Michael Harvey (background vocals).
Composed by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
Recorded: Los Angeles, CA, mid-1997-mid-1999
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
Two Against Nature won Steely Dan a 2001 Grammy award for Album of the Year, and the recording stands out for its bouncy, upbeat nature rather than for the drab, dark undertones that colored Gaucho, its studio predecessor.
"Gaslighting Abbie" maintains Becker and Fagen's standard of twisting their bop-influenced grooves together with tales of characters whose true natures unfold as they dive into the cruder side of life. A husband attempts to drive his wife crazy with his lover's help, and, alongside joyous sounding plateaus, Fagen describes the techniques that will erase his summertime pain ("Flame is the game/the game we call Gaslighting Abbie/It's a luscious invention for three"). The trio's "game" involves spiking herbal tea with "deludin," and, from there, blood, fresh cable, and fifteen watt bulbs are incorporated into the psychological torture.
As Fagen sings of these activities, concluding, "a tweak or two and she's out of here," you have to wonder whether or not you would feel comfortable sitting alone with him in the same room. In many ways, this track could be the most explicit Steely Dan recording, as far as its subject matter is concerned. However, that does not keep it from being one of their most effective.
Reviewer: Marcus Singletary