Offered for sale is an original, true first pressing of Steely Dan’s 1977 LP, Aja on the ABC label.
All seven of Steely Dan’s original albums that were released between 1972 and 1980 have been highly regarded by audiophiles for years, but perhaps none quite as much as 1977’s Aja. This album, which combined the work of founders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen with studio musicians, combined rock and jazz while keeping the album radio-friendly.
Steely Dan hadn’t been a real working band since Pretzel Logic, but with Aja, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s obsession with sonic detail and fascination with composition reached new heights. A coolly textured and immaculately produced collection of sophisticated jazz-rock, Aja has none of the overt cynicism or self-consciously challenging music that distinguished previous Steely Dan records. It’s complex music delivered with ease, and although the duo’s preoccupation with clean sound and self-consciously sophisticated arrangements would eventually lead to a dead end, Aja is a shining example of jazz-rock at its finest.
Finding clean, quiet copies of Steely Dan’s original albums is difficult, and the master tapes for those albums were reportedly either mislaid or destroyed in the mid-1980s. While there have been several attempts by audiophile labels to give Aja a proper treatment, all were produced from lower-generation tapes and many audiophiles believe that the best sounding pressing of the album is the original 1977 ABC Records issue.
That’s where things get a bit complicated, as a lot of people are confused as to which version of the album is the original pressing. When originally issued in September 1977, ABC Records gave Aja the catalog number AB-1006. This album had a $6.98 suggested list price and was mastered by Bernie Grundman.
A short time after release, perhaps in the late fall, ABC saw that the album was selling well and made the decision to raise the retail price of the album to $7.98. This was reflected in the album’s new catalog number, AA-1006, as the second letter in the catalog number indicated the suggested retail price. At this time, the album was also remastered, though the remastering was reportedly not done by Bernie Grundman, and the tape used was reportedly at least one generation removed from the one used for the original issue.
Because the letter A comes before B in the alphabet, most people logically assume that the AA-1006 number came first, but those are actually second pressings. The original issue is AB-1006, and they’re quite hard to find, especially in anything close to mint condition. The album was packaged with a heavy posterboard inner sleeve, and these sleeves tended to scuff the records rather heavily.
A lot of people seem to be looking for original copies; we’ve seen used original pressings of Aja offered on other sites at prices of up to $695.
About this copy: This copy of Aja is an original 1977 U.S. pressing on the ABC label, with the first issue AB-1006 catalog number. The letter “T” in the dead wax indicates that this LP was pressed at Columbia’s Terre Haute, Indiana, pressing plant.
The cover is VG, with traces of wear at the corners. It’s quite nice for a used copy, as most of them have extensive ring wear.
The record is VG+, with scuffs from being removed from the posterboard inner sleeve, but no other marks or scratches. It clearly has seen little play.
Matrix numbers are AB-1006 (RE-3) A T5 and AB-1006 (RE-3) B -2
A nice copy of a terrific LP.