Aja (pronounced like Asia) is the sixth album by the jazz rock band Steely Dan. Originally released in 1977 on ABC Records, it became the group’s best-selling album. Peaking at No. 3 on the U.S. charts and No. 5 in the United Kingdom, it was the band’s first platinum album, eventually selling over 5 million copies. In July 1978, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording. In 2003, the album was ranked number 145 on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.
Donald Fagen has said the title of the album comes from the name of a Korean woman who married the brother of a high-school friend of his. The cover photo by Hideki Fujii features Japanese model/actress Sayoko Yamaguchi.
The album features several leading session musicians. The eight-minute-long title track features jazz-based changes and a solo by saxophonist Wayne Shorter.
Aja is the subject of one of the Classic Albums, a series of documentaries about the making of famous albums. The documentary includes a song-by-song study of the album (the only omission being “I Got the News,” which is played during the closing credits), interviews with Steely Dan co-founders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen (among others) plus new, live-in-studio versions of songs from the album. Becker and Fagen also play back several of the rejected guitar solos for “Peg,” which were recorded before Jay Graydon produced the satisfactory take.
When DTS attempted to make a 5.1 version, it was discovered that the multitrack masters for both “Black Cow” and the title track were missing. For this same reason, a multichannel SACD version was cancelled by Universal Music. Donald Fagen has offered a $600 reward for the missing masters or any information that leads to their recovery.
On April 6, 2011, the album was deemed by the Library of Congress to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” and added to the United States National Recording Registry for the year 2010.
All songs written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
- Side one
- “Black Cow” – 5:10
- “Aja” – 7:57
- “Deacon Blues” – 7:37
- Side two
- “Peg” – 3:57
- “Home at Last” – 5:34
- “I Got the News” – 5:06
- “Josie” – 4:33