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"Dirty Work" is the second track of Steely Dan's debut album Can't Buy A Thrill. It was never released as a single in any territories other than the Netherlands, however is still one of their most popular tracks, receiving airplay in many places. On the studio version, David Palmer takes position as the lead vocalist.
"Dirty Work" was presumably performed live for the first time during Steely Dan's first show at the Under The Ice House bar in Glendale, California. Like other tracks at the time, David Palmer sang lead vocals due to Fagen's stage fright and other issues. After Palmer was out of the band in 1973, Royce Jones took over as the lead vocalist on live iterations of the track. He would do this up until the very end, as the July 5th, 1974 show was the band's last live performance for almost two decades.
After 26 years in the dust, "Dirty Work" was brought out of the woodworks and played throughout the 2000 tour. While the arrangement was more laid back than the rocking 70s version, the main difference was the fact that the band's female backing vocalists sang lead. The song's lyrics were altered to reflect this. In 2003, the track was replaced with "Parker's Band" as the song the backing vocalists would sing, although it would return in 2006. The track was performed regularly in 2007, before being skipped again in 2008 for the same reasons it was in 2003. From 2009 onward, the track became a live staple, being performed at most shows. The only year in this timeframe where it was hardly ever played was in 2013, where it was replaced by "Razor Boy", another song performed specifically for the backing vocalists to sing.
First performance: October ??, 1972: Under The Ice House, Glendale, California, US [Presumed]
Latest performance: November 11, 2019: Wind Creek Event Center, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US
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