When the duo who made up Steely Dan decided to take a break from group activities in the early 1980's, it gave keyboardist/singer Donald Fagen the opportunity to release his first solo work in 1982.
While numerous artists have assembled a cast of top-notch musicians to assist them, the difference in Fagen's case is that he was able to use their skills to the full by supplying the material required to get the best out of them.
Using a slightly less 'jazzy' sound than Steely Dan employed, the work is obviously autobiographical and reflects Fagen's impressionable days as a youth on a New York (State) housing estate in the late 1950's and early 1960's.
'Lester the Nightfly' relates the artist's fondness for listening to late night jazz radio in his younger days, while 'New Frontier' conjures up the feeling American's felt about their political enemies during the cold war period.
'Maxine' is a beautiful song about an old flame of Fagen's and the old Drifter's tune, 'Ruby Baby' is given a fresh makeover which makes it sound completely contemporary.
While many Steely Dan fans were initially somewhat cool on the album, possibly because they were expecting something nearer to SD's material, it is now regarded as a classic in most quarters.
However, Fagen wasn't able to build on the success of 'The Nightfly' for many years as he later suffered from anxiety attacks (a condition he also had in his teens), which in turn brought about acute writing block.
His later albums, 'Kamakiriad', 'Morph the Cat' and 'Sunken Condos' all contain snatches of Donald Fagen at his best, but it is only on 'The Nightfly' where his songwriting and performing skills shine at their brightest.