Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Frontier - Donald Fagen (1983)

 New Frontier
b/w Maxine

Released: February 1983 (Warner Bros.)
Written by: Donald Fagen
Produced by: Gary Katz
Album: The Nightfly

 U. S. Billboard Charts:
 Hot 100 70
 Adult Contemporary 34

Before New Frontier, I was a casual Steely Dan fan at best.  I always enjoyed the songs Peg and Time Out Of Mind when I heard them on the radio, but I didn't own any SD records.  So what led me to this little slice of pop/soft rock perfection by SD's Donald Fagen?  Marketing, plain and simple.  Being a radio and records guy, I was attracted to the cover photo of The Nightfly album and after I saw the video for New Frontier, I was hooked.  I soon had The Nightfly LP and anyone who rode with me in my car in 1983 was subjected to this song (it was for their own good, really). Looking back, I can't believe the video for New Frontier was ever played on MTV.  Go figure.

Musically, this is a great piece with tight vocal harmonies, exotic chords (B9, F#6, C9+11, etc.), and great solos from Larry Carlton on guitar and Hugh McCracken on harmonica.  The album version is 6'22", the single edit clocks in at 3'50" while the video is 4'44".  Lyrically, the song takes us back to the Kennedy years and the beginnings of the Cold War.  Not political at all, it simply uses that era as a backdrop as the lyrics tell the story of a teenage boy trying to lure his date down into a backyard fallout shelter for a night (or at least a few minutes) of passion. If I'd had a fallout shelter in my backyard in 1983, I'd have tried the same move.

1 comment :

  1. I concur with your review and assessment of this fine song. Did you pick up the 45 back then? I didn't. I think anything shy of the album version would be a disappointment.

    Album is from 1982, natch: the single greatest year in music EVER!