Two Against Nature

Two Against Nature

5.0 7
by Steely Dan

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It's been nearly 20 years since their last foray into a recording studio as a team, but Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are no more in step with the musical world now than they were at their peak -- and that's a very good thing. The 21st-century edition of Steely Dan retains that inimitable ability to…  See more details below


It's been nearly 20 years since their last foray into a recording studio as a team, but Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are no more in step with the musical world now than they were at their peak -- and that's a very good thing. The 21st-century edition of Steely Dan retains that inimitable ability to sprinkle danceable riffs with one hand and pull the rug out from under listeners with the other, as evidenced by the Southern-gothic funkfest "Cousin Dupree" and the creepy mind games of "Gaslighting Abby." The vibe of TWO AGAINST NATURE isn't terribly different from the pair's late-'70s output -- slick jazz-funk and burnished ballads dominate, with little room for the cerebro-rock of their earlier days. But when the sonic short stories are as perfectly executed and multi-layered as, say, the smirkingly self-mocking "What a Shame About Me," it's hard not to be reeled in.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Notorious for shunning concert performances, Steely Dan's improbable live reunion in the mid-'90s eventually turned into a full-fledged reunion album. Since Steely Dan fans went two decades without even the hope of a new record, the very prospect was a delight, but it was also a little worrying, since a botched comeback would tarnish the band's legacy. Fortunately, Two Against Nature is as seductive and alluring as the best of Steely Dan's later work, with a similar emphasis on classy atmosphere and groove. Pitched halfway between Gaucho and the immaculate production of Fagen's solo album Kamakiriad, it's a graceful, intricate record that works its subtle charms at its own pace. While that means it isn't a knockout on the first listen, it's a real grower -- a quietly addicting album that slowly works its way into the subconscious. It's also an uncannily natural extension of the duo's previous work, but surprisingly, it never sounds nostalgic or dated. It's clear that Becker and Fagen re-teamed because they simply enjoy working together: crafting the songs and arrangements, designing the production, shoehorning in-jokes into the lyrics, finding the exact performances that fit their specifications. In this sense, Two Against Nature is no different than any past Steely Dan effort; that's exactly why it's welcome, since they find nearly endless permutations within their signature sound. Lyrically, the album isn't quite as malicious as their '70s work, but they haven't lost their sharp humor, even on some mere throwaway lines. The real payoff, however, is musical. Each song gradually reveals its own identity through small, thrilling touches, giving the record depth and character, and fitting it comfortably into Steely Dan's acclaimed body of work. And that's as delightfully unexpected and peculiarly beautiful as anything else in their career.
Rolling Stone - David Wild
Two Against Nature is Dan defined. The album mixes world-class chops and jazzy, postgraduate soul sound with some wonderful, vague storytelling.
Entertainment Weekly - Chris Willman
The core elements are unchanged: white-hot chops, black humor, and a flair for the cryptic.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Giant Records / Wea

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Steely Dan   Primary Artist
Donald Fagen   Organ,Piano,fender rhodes,Wurlitzer
Walter Becker   Bass,Guitar
Tom Barney   Bass
Leroy Clouden   Snare Drums
Vinnie Colaiuta   Snare Drums
Sonny Emory   Snare Drums
Lawrence Feldman   Clarinet,Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Gordon Gottlieb   Percussion
Mike Harvey   Background Vocals
Any Helm   Human Whistle
Jon Herington   Acoustic Guitar,Rhythm Guitar
Paul Jackson   Guitar
Ricky Lawson   Drums
Will Lee   Percussion
Lou Marini   Alto Saxophone
Hugh McCracken   Guitar
Dean Parks   Guitar
Chris Potter   Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Jim Pugh   Trombone
Roger Rosenberg   Bass Clarinet,Baritone Saxophone
Daniel Sadownick   Percussion,Timbales
Steve Shapiro   Vibes
David Tofani   Saxophone
Michael White   Drums,Snare Drums
Ted Baker   Piano,fender rhodes
Jon Herrington   Rhythm Guitar
Michael Leonhart   Trumpet,Conductor,Wurlitzer
Carolyn Leonhart   Background Vocals
Keith Carlock   Snare Drums
Cynthia Calhoun   Background Vocals
Amy Helm   Whistle (Instrument)
Michael Hitchcock   Trumpet
David Schenk   Vibes

Technical Credits

Donald Fagen   Arranger,Producer,Horn Arrangements
Walter Becker   Arranger,Producer,Horn Arrangements
Roger Nichols   Engineer
Ken Ross   Engineer
Elliot Scheiner   Engineer
Phil Burnett   Engineer
Michael Leonhart   Horn Arrangements
Dave Russell   Engineer
Johan Edlund   Engineer
Jay A. Ryan   Engineer
Peta Scriba   Engineer
Anthony Gorman   Engineer
Per-Christian Nielsen   Engineer

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Two Against Nature 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
2VN is, without a doubt, 100% Steely Dan. Although the sound is different in many ways from the old Dan there are also many similarities. Don't expect Aja revisited, but do expect the luscious textures, interesting tempos, sophisticated changes, and lyrical gymnastics that set the Dan apart from all others. This record may be a little more reminiscent of Donald Fegan's solo releases, but the return of Walter Becker's influence (a sardonic nastiness, directed at only those who deserve it) make this my pick for the best record in the last 10 years. The results of their collaboration is synergy at its best. This is not a band or record for the masses; too bad for the masses. Summary: Quite tasty!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a blessed relief to all us aging Boomers out here that Walter Becker and Donald Fagen have deigned to serve up another tasty helping of Bona Fide Steely Dan. These guys aren't just in a class by themselves in terms of craftsmanship and musical quality--they've virtually invented their own jazz-influenced sub-genre of popular music, with one practitioner: Steely Dan. The new album continues the logical stylistic evolution of W & D from AJA and GAUCHO, through Donald's second solo LP, KAMAKIRIAD, and Walter's first, ELEVEN TRACKS OF WHACK, with a whiff of jazz flutist Jeremy Steig's estimable Becker-produced 90's CD JIGSAW, to the present. Look for the familiar sophisticated jazz-chord-based melodies and progressions, internal key changes, sassy instrumental rhythms and solos, and Donald Fagen's utterly distinctive vocals. Also: if anything, the guys have grown even sharper lyrically. Wisdom of their years, I guess. In customarily hilarious black-humor style, they skewer the pomposities and conceits of their favorite targets--those of us indulging in assinine behavior--but leavening the vitriolic mockery with a surprising amount of tenderness, pathos, and empathy. These idiots (the song characters, not W & D!) really can't help themselves--they just don't get it. It's beyond their control. W & D draw their comically self-screwing characters with a sure eye. Buy the new Dan, it's fantastic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was just young the first time I heard Steely Dan- My parents were big fans and would play the records during dinner, happy hour, etc. I learned the lyrics for albums, nameless to me because it didn't matter at that point. I wasn't going to go out and buy the latest cut- I was 6. Listening to 'Two Against Nature' brings back all the same feelings of comfort & warmth and rekindles the ambiance of a relaxed Saturday evening with no-place-to-be-but-home, preparing and enjoying a home-cooked batch of pork-fried rice or a heavenly loaf of Mom's homemade bread. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the winding, funky tunes that have matured but not morphed; making for a truly enjoyable listening experience for both young (me?) and old (...Me?..) Jenny D.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the most unique bands of the 70s and 80s is back. They have the same sound, a clean, tight jazz/rock fusion. Their music has always been infectious, but their lyrics --- self-analytical, ironic, cerebral, you name it --- really set them apart. They've produced all-new tracks with that same spirit. This one is most definitely a keeper.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Grammy for this album just reminds me to return to this stunner and enjoy it all over again. The band's wit and musical technique provides total inspiration. Play it loud!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Steely Dan's new outing '2 Against Nature' proves beyound any doubt that Becker & Fagen are back, and better than ever. The usual ingredients are all there - superb arrangements, elegant, witty lyrics and the patented 'Dan feel that makes every track live on in your head long after the CD has ended. From the oh-so-close-to-swing of Shame About Me to the precision of Cousin Dupree this disc will delight over and over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a devote Steely Dan fan and music lover, I would put this album right up at the top of the Steely Dan list along side Aja and The Royal Scam. I have everything that they have put out and this one really gets it. It is more Jazzy than Rock right in line with ''The Nightfly'' (one of Donalds solo albums), but has some tremendous power in many of the songs. It is a must for anyone who appreaciates fine music. It is recorded exceptionally well also, but that is nothing new for Walter and Donald.