Two Against Nature

Two Against Nature

5.0 7
by Steely Dan
     
 

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 toSee more details below

Overview

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:
02/29/2000
Label:
Giant Records / Wea
UPC:
0075992471923
catalogNumber:
24719
Rank:
8548

Related Subjects

Tracks

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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
Scott Hull   Mastering
Dave Russell   Engineer
Johan Edlund   Engineer
Jay A. Ryan   Engineer
Peta Scriba   Engineer
Anthony Gorman   Engineer
Per-Christian Nielsen   Engineer

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