[15] Steely Dan, ‘Do It Again’

Steely Dan

“I know Steely Dan, I met him at school.” Perhaps Fagen and Becker really did pop into Junior’s school to deliver a talk called – I don’t know – Get With It, Daddio: Sneaking Jazz into Lugubrious Contemporary Rock, but one thing I’m sure of: if I’d met the Dan at school I’d have stifled a yawn and sloped off to play tennis ball football.

You see, more than anything else, more than Phil Collins, Dire Straits or our pal Eric Clapton, in the early 80s Steely Dan epitomised Dad Rock for us. Those others troubled the charts quite seriously, but the Dan only appeared on old boys’ stereos, their liquid grooves and terribly precise harmonies finding a frequency that would instantly dispatch a schoolboy to the Land of Nod. Even in 1989, when De La Soul’s ‘Eye Know’ sent me off in search of ‘Peg’, I still detested ‘Deacon Blues’ and the rest of the queasily perfect aural furniture on Aja.

According to Last.fm, in the past five months I’ve played ‘Deacon Blues’ six times.

Says more than any amount of grey hair, right? So, in the rich tradition of hilarious, ageing voltes-faces, let’s recognise that ‘Do It Again’ is terrific, its easy funk played faultlessly, its smug delivery pitched the righteous side of incredibly annoying. And to undercut my generation gap theories, Junior says she hasn’t got enough thumbs to express how thumbs-up the song is.

[15] De La Soul, ‘Eye Know’

De La Soul

3 Feet High & Rising, the soundtrack to a summer spent at Berkhamsted’s late, lamented outdoor swimming baths. A girl called Nova came over one afternoon and asked me what I was listening to – “De La Soul,” I said.  She was nonplussed and I didn’t pursue it.

Junior’s more hip to Mase, Pos and Trugoy – rocking with the best and putting in a brave effort to overbalance her highchair. We dotted around the album after this song, and ‘The Magic Number’ sent her loopy, but we’re here for ‘Eye Know’, where the magic number is two and Junior can wriggle with delight when she spots her favourite Steely Dan samples. She can only take them in small doses.

It’s a cutely formed little gem; the sweetest moment of De La Soul’s fresh take on hip hop. A fresh take fired, I suppose, by acid house and E and the Cold War thaw and Arsenal’s slaying of the Liverpool monster and the break-up of Microdisney and the first inklings of the demise of Thatcher – all fusing together to bring a new hippy era. Daisy this, daisy that.