Steely Dan’s 180g 33 1/3rpm 1LP Aja Reissue From Geffen/UMe & AAA 200g UHQR 45rpm Edition From Analogue Productions Are Both Set for September 29

Our dime dancing is officially through, as we just got the news that the eagerly awaited LP reissue of Steely Dan’s indisputable September 1977 masterpiece Aja has now been given an official release date of September 29. The 180g 1LP edition comes via Geffen/UMe, while the 200g UHQR edition comes via Analogue Productions.

The stats are these: Aja has been remastered by Bernie Grundman from an analog, non-EQ’d, tape copy — we’ll explain the reasoning behind the “tape copy” nomenclature here in just a moment — and the Geffen/UMe LP will be pressed on 180g black vinyl and spin at 33 1/3rpm. Lacquers for the Geffen/UMe’s 180g 1LP version of Aja will be cut by Alex Abrash at his AA Mastering studio from hi-res digital files of Grundman’s new masters, and these particular LPs will be pressed at Precision. They will also be housed in reproductions of the original artwork.


The SRP for the Geffen/UMe 180g 33 1/3rpm 1LP edition of Aja is $29.99, and it can be pre-ordered here.

Naturally, Aja is being released concurrently as a 30,000 numbered-copy limited-edition 200g 45rpm version on Ultra High-Quality Vinyl (UHQR) from Analogue Productions with an SRP of $150, which has been the standard going rate for all UHQR editions in this series to date. (As a refresher, you can read more about the entire UHQR Steely Dan reissue series here.) The UHQR edition of Aja can be pre-ordered here (with a cap of three copies “per customer per address”).

To briefly recap, all albums in the Steely Dan vinyl reissue series are overseen by SD co-founder Donald Fagen and are being mastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog tapes, with the notable exceptions being the album here at hand, the aforementioned Aja, and Gaucho. Aja’s own “tape copy” details are noted a few paragraphs above this one, while November 1980’s Gaucho is being sourced from a 1980 analog tape copy originally EQ’d by Bob Ludwig. The reason for both of these tape-copy exceptions to the much-preferred AAA standard is that, sadly, UMe confirms there is no evidence the original tapes containing the flat mixes of both Aja and Gaucho were delivered to the record label, and it remains presumed those tapes no longer exist.


As for the 45rpm UHQR version of Aja, it will be pressed at Analogue Productions’ own Quality Record Pressings on 200g Clarity Vinyl — and, like all other entries in the AP/QRP SD reissue series, it will be packaged in a custom deluxe box and will include a booklet detailing the entire process of the making of a UHQR edition, along with a certificate of inspection. Each UHQR disc is pressed using hand-selected vinyl.

There is no question Aja is one of the premier Holy Grail LPs in our audiophile circles. Personally, I consider the 2007 Japanese pressing to be among, if not the best Aja I’ve heard on vinyl to date — though, yes, I will admit the Cisco 30th anniversary edition can sometimes edge that one out, but I also know many folks continue to swear by the ABC Records AA-1006 Terra Haute pressing and/or the MFSL 1980 pressing — so, with all that SD LP-pressing-loving data in mind, I’m beyond interested to hear both new versions of this benchmark album upon their respective releases later next month. And, yes, we’ll be reviewing both of them right here on AP individually, when the time comes.

Speaking of SD LP reviews to come, we’ll also be reviewing the just-released Geffen/UMe and Analogue Productions editions of February 1974’s Pretzel Logic later this week in separate reviews — so stay tuned for those, with the UHQR review coming first. In the meantime, feel free to post your own thoughts and/or expectations about the upcoming Aja releases below in our Comments section, which follows underneath the Geffen/UMe edition’s tracklisting.



180g 1LP (Geffen/UMe)

Side A
1. Black Cow
2. Aja
3. Deacon Blues

Side B
1. Peg
2. Home At Last
3. I Got The News
4. Josie


Music Direct Buy It Now

brenro12's picture

Hope this is better than Pretzel Logic.

Steve Arnold's picture

In the headline you stated both versions set for 9/29 release. Are you sure? Because if Analog Productions is releasing the titles in order, that would mean Katy Lied and The Royal Scam would be coming out between now and late September, and I'd be very surprised were that to happen. Unless they're going to shuffle the title releases and go out of order?

Mike Mettler's picture
Yes, that's the correct release date for the UHQR as well -- and you can see it stated as such, directly on the Analogue Productions / Acoustic Sounds site itself, in red letters -- "Coming September 29, 2023" -- via the purchase link in the story. So, yep, they're not going chronologically, but all the announced titles will still be released.
Mike Mettler's picture
Adding some more context to my above release-date confirmation reply, I also said the following in a reply to a comment on our FB page...

Since Aja is a linchpin release in the SD catalog, it makes sense to put it out in the fall, ahead of the holiday buying season. I'm not sure that anyone on the label side of things ever directly confirmed they would be following a purely chronological release pattern the entire way through the reissue series -- we all may have just assumed they'd continue to do so, given the order of the first three releases.

markmck12's picture

I too was surprised to see Aja rolling out next. I did some digging and found the following on Acoustic Sounds.

Gaucho - 01st December 2023
Katy Lied - 29th March 2024
The Royal Scam - 28th June 2024

I have a Cisco Aja so quite keen to say the least where it was sourced!

PS The Geffen Pretzel Logic was a shocker. Sent it back for a refund.

ivansbacon's picture

I am not interested in digital files nor can i, or will i, pay $150.00

Krondo_jd's picture

I'll have to take a look at my LP when I get home. I know I bought it in the early 80's but don't know anything about the pressing info.

MrRom92's picture

I guess the real question now is, if ABC never received what would be considered as the original tape - is this “tape copy” the exact same tape that was used to master the original release in the first place?
If so, referring to it as a tape copy may be selling it short.

Peter Music's picture

I love The Dan, and the first 2 UHQRs were great! But the Pretzel Logic UHQR is a mess, not even an enjoyable listen, so I cancelled my Aja and other preorders. At $150, they need to be great, so I'm waiting for your October(?) review before I belly up again. Fingers crossed, but really bummed out after getting burned...

culturcide's picture

I spent thousands and thousands of dollars with Acoustic Sounds during the pandemic. Then in one large $800 order I got an unplayable $25 LP (warped, off centre etc). I was told to send it back for a refund. I said I was not spending $35 to send back a $25 LP from the other side of the world. Case closed. No response to further emails, calls or a hand written letter to Chad. I have not purchased from them since (I would have pre-ordered the whole Steely Dan UHQR set). It’s now been over a year since purchasing anything from Acoustic Sounds.

James Kelly's picture

I have had the same problem with AS last year. They do not respond to any email. They are the worst. I have not ordered from them ever since.

jazz's picture

“there is no evidence the original tapes containing the flat mixes of both Aja and Gaucho were delivered to the record label”

Does this mean, the source for the Cisco was the same non EQ’d copy tape? Did you maybe ask about the source previously?

Mike Mettler's picture
It has been said -- on this very site, in fact, and elsewhere -- that Elliot Scheiner, one of Aja's original engineers, oversaw the Cisco reissue, and that Kevin Gray and Robert Pincus mastered it from "the original analog tape" at AcousTec.

. . . or did they? If Geffen/UMe's current statement that was provided to us (and, well, to everyone) on August 8, about having "no evidence" of the "original tapes" being delivered to the label is indeed correct, we may very well have to look into the voracity of the Cisco "original analog tape" source claim a bit further.

For additional perspective, two more things to consider here. First, I went back to the transcript of my firsthand interview with Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker that took place by phone on January 25, 2005, a landline call that started at 1:20 p.m. Eastern time. We were both in New York City at the time of this interview, and Becker had also just recently appeared on a panel I hosted at CES in Las Vegas just a few weeks earlier, one that was centered on multichannel sound. (Dweezil Zappa was also on that panel, but I digress.)

During our interview, when I asked Becker about the status of any/all Steely Dan reissues at that point in time in 2005, he said, direct quote, "Aja is missing some of the master tapes. At one point, we offered $600 for their return, but there were no takers." When I then suggested, "Maybe if you had offered $750, you would’ve gotten somewhere," he replied, :Yeah, in Euros. Not American, not Canadian."

So, just what did he mean by "their return"? Well, if we go back to the liner notes Becker and Donald Fagen provided for the 1999 MCA CD reissue of Aja, and get to the part where they discuss what happened when they "sent for" the multitrack masters of Aja, they, quote, "discovered that the two-inch multitracks of the songs "Aja" and "Black Cow" were nowhere to be found. They had somehow become separated from the other boxes. which the producer [whom we can reasonably presume is a reference to Gary Katz] had abandoned here and there (studios, storage lockers, etc.) almost twenty years before."

After providing a then-management address and phone number to reach out to for "anyone having information about the whereabouts of these missing two-inch tapes," the final kicker they added was, "There will be a $600.00 reward for anyone who successfully leads us to the tapes. This is not a joke. Happy hunting." And, as Becker had confirmed with me as quoted above, which was between five and six years after that initial offer was made, no one had taken them up on it -- at least not at that particular reward amount, I should add.

Admittedly, both of those above-cited direct comments each occurred a few years before the Cisco LP was released in 2007, so perhaps the missing two-inch multitrack tapes were indeed found and returned in the interim, but I'm honestly not so sure about that. Scheiner didn't recall it that way about having the originals in hand when I asked him about it in 2017, and certainly Geffen/UMe and Analogue Productions would without a doubt be using the originals if they were available to them both.

At any rate, I'm certainly open to anyone providing us here on AP with factual evidence about the use, or lack thereof, of the original tape -- or tapes, plural -- for any given Aja vinyl reissue, one way or the other.

jazz's picture

You seem to have a few contacts, couldn’t you get some more information from the former Cisco team (Pincus/Gray) what they say? Maybe Kevin has a story for us, have they (not just Scheiner) ever been asked for it?

Mike Mettler's picture
Very welcome! I/we haven't seen the topic addressed by them directly to date -- which doesn't mean they haven't said anything about it per se, only that I/we haven't seen it personally -- but we'll ask. Hence, if/when we get info about that Cisco Aja source directly from Gray/Pincus, we will share it here, and/or within the eventual/upcoming Aja UHQR review.
MrRom92's picture

Kevin Gray previously stated that he was only provided with a tape copy from which to cut the Cisco, but not because the master was missing, more so that UMe did not want to provide him with access to it.
It’s possible that the tape copy used for the UHQR is the same one he got. Or alternatively it’s possible he ended up with a copy of a copy.
It’s also possible that this flat copy used here is a flat copy that was originally used to master the original ABC release in the first place. Maybe no pressings were ever cut directly from the mixdowns.
Perhaps the original tapes have remained in the hands of an engineer who previously worked with them.

Mike Mettler's picture
Thanks for that Kevin Gray Aja update, MrRom92! Do you happen to know where/what outlet(s) Gray said that?

It's an ongoing Q as to where the original Aja tapes are, and who may have them. I've heard all sorts of stories about where they might actually be -- somewhere 'round the globe, as it were. . .

MrRom92's picture

I don’t recall exactly which one but it was one of these numerous YouTube video conversations with Chad Kassem that have come out over the past couple of years, Kevin was asked specifically about Aja and he went into fairly great detail about his history working on it.

FWIW I have Kevin’s older cut from the 80’s on the rainbow MCA label. It seems not many people like it - including him! Even he speaks poorly of it IIRC. I never had any problem with it personally and think it sounds great but without the cisco or an early ABC I guess I wouldn’t know what I’ve been missing.

Anton D's picture

A cool guy I know who owns a Sonoma pinot noir winery has been a long time "master tape" collector and has an Aja tape that I have no idea how close to a true master it really is, but it sounds freaking incredible.

He brought it and some other tapes to our local club meeting once, played back on his Tascam machine, it was startlingly dynamic and wonderful. Then, we played some of the LP issues and the Cisco was just a true winner. I'd recommend buying this version.

It was only a hair behind the tape...and makes me theorize: one of the allures of reel to reel seems to be that they have kick ass internal 'preamps' that are silly good at delivering higher level signal compared to other inputs. A lot of their jump factor seems to be due to solid step up abilities compared to LP.

I love the album, but the price and inconvenience of the UHQR are just not great enough to make me want to jump up for this release. Now, if they manage to figure out how to make a 400 dollar release on 454 gram shark cartilage derived vinyl, maybe then.

Anyway, check out the Cisco, it's worthy.

Mike Mettler's picture
Bueno! I'mma gonna do a Cisco/UHQR comparo when it's time to do the Aja review, without a doubt...
Anton D's picture


Anton D's picture


Mike Mettler's picture
Thx, Anton -- I'm looking forward to it too! And, I might add, I will also vigorously clean my original AA-1006 ABC Records LP so I can include it in my comparo as well. I will probably not, however, say much about the Universal "Back to Black" version that I bought more for collecting purposes -- and also so I could have at least one Aja LP in the house while I was transferring quite a number of LPs between offsite storage and home locales...
jazz's picture

and it’s hard to imagine it could get any better, but we’ll see.
The past review was quite spot on.

Mike Mettler's picture
Gotcha re the YouTube video series context here -- and thx for the reminder about those! Interesting too re your rainbow MCA label listening experience as well. It has been said that there isn't really a "bad" version of Aja on vinyl per se because of the overall quality of the recording itself, but we all have our preferred pressing(s), as it were...
James Kelly's picture

$150.00 plus shipping? Ridiculous!!!!Vinyl pricing has gotten way out of hand.

Anton D's picture

Some of these reissues give me the vibe of "Malibu Stacy has a new hat."

Tom L's picture

I want it! I want it! I want it!

mauidj's picture

30,000? Beyond silly. Do people really fall for this nonsense?

PeterPani's picture

in the article it is stated: "The reason for both of these tape-copy exceptions to the much-preferred AAA standard is that..." So the AP is not AAA, but ADA?

Mike Mettler's picture
More like "A-A-asterisk-A," in this case, in reference to the "tape copy" being used here rather than the "missing" original(s)...
Rashers's picture

Practically nobody wants to fork out €150 (€210) for a 2X45rpm record in a horrendous box. I have multiple copies of the original albums and everybody knows that Bernie Grundman cut AAA lacquers at 33rpm. It may be years before we hear these and the prices, going by the fact that records are increasing in price at twice the rate of inflation - will be exhorbitant. For €40 UME should not be selling a second rate product.
I bought the UHQRs to date (PL has not arrived yet). The ugly boxes are up in the attic. The ludicrously overpriced records (CBAT & CTE) are stacked with my other albums - looking like the absolutely not deluxe products that they are. If you place them beside “Sunken Condos” by Fagen (on clear vinyl €30) - side by side you would swear that they were from the same series. Except, of course, that Sunken Condis sounds better..

adw's picture

I'll begin by saying that to me, Aja epitomizes the SD oeuvre, I mean, for starters, the artists on the album include Steve Gadd, Tom Scott, Larry Carlton and Joe Sample, and again, that's just for starters. On the other hand, I found a Portuguese pressing of the LP from 1978, mastered by BG, in a used record store, grabbed it, paid the man and brought it home to see what I'd happened upon. The record was fabulous , brilliant. I'd struck gold, purely by accident. Plus, in 2021, I acquired a Dunhill first LP pressing mastered by BG, the jacket of which was stunning mint. While the album itself was in rougher condition, once again, the thing sounded just beautiful. And back when everyone was ordering these pricey things, I bought the Japanese single layer SHM Aja SACD released as a Universal product. Indeed, the jacket stressed that this DSD disc had been transferred directly from "analogue master tapes" by a Japanese individual at Universal Mastering Studios. This album has tremendous purity and transparency but is sterile the way digital can be, irrespective of resolution. I'm, therefore, relative to these new reissues, torn. I'll therefore wait I think for a consensus to arise and see if the new LP is widely considered indispensable, especially Chad's version of Aja. But it's lovely to live in a world of options like these. It saddens me that Walter Becker isn't here to see this. I've outlived him. We're so awful grateful to you, Mr. Becker.