The Irony Goes to 11: Steely Dan Founder to Guest on New Spinal Tap Album

Today, it was announced that Spinal Tap’s bassist Derek Smalls will be releasing a new solo album on April 13.  It’ll be called “Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing).”

Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) in concert in 2009

The mind-blowing news, from my view, is the presence of Donald Fagen, co-founder of Steely Dan, on one of the songs. 

Fagen will be joined by former Steely Dan guitarists Jeff (“Skunk”) Baxter and jazz legend Larry Carlton, who did the guitar work on the legendary “The Royal Scam” album from 1976.  Naturally, anyone who works in finance might be suspected of adopting an album named “The Royal Scam” as their personal anthem, and I am definitely one of them, though I do so purely with ironic intent.

But I digress.

The humor is quite evident in the song that Fagen and his former bandmates worked on. It’s called “Memo to Willie,” and it’s described by Derek Smalls as “an urgent missive to the Honorable Member: continued tumescence, if you please.” I’m delighted that we live in an age when sixty-something men continue to indulge in the same sort of dick jokes that they may have indulged in college.

But it’s far funnier to note that a song-length dick joke is being performed on the album of a guy who made some of the best dick jokes in a film full of them.  Like this one:

And the guest performer made his mark on rock-and-roll history in a band named after an immense steam-powered steel dildo.

The album also has guest appearances from numerous musical luminaries including Peter Frampton, Chad Smith (drummer for Red Hot Chili Peppers), Dweezil Zappa, Joe Satriani, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman of Yes.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.  I hope that the wide-eyed innocence of Spinal Tap humor meshes well with the far darker and more biting Steely Dan world view, if Fagen has any input into the song.  If he is just performing, then there shouldn’t be an issue, of course.

As a lifelong Steely Dan fan (54 shows and counting!), I am excited to see anything that Fagen comes up with.  I hope this is a positive sign that Fagen is weathering the death of partner Walter Becker back in September 2017 well.

Author: John P.

John P. is a Wall Street money manager and IT technologist fascinated by irrationality in all its forms, and Scientology most of all. He's a lifelong Steely Dan fan.