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.
When Steely Dan released Two Against Nature in 2000, their first album in 20 years, it was an unexpected gift, since all odds seemed against Donald Fagen and Walter Becker reteaming for nothing more than the occasional project, let alone a full album. As it turned out, the duo was able to pick up where they left off, with Two Against Nature seamlessly fitting next to Gaucho and earning the band surprise success, including a Grammy for Album of the Year, but the bigger surprise is that the reunion wasn't a one-off – they released another record, Everything Must Go, a mere three years later. Given the (relatively) short turnaround time between the two records, it comes as little surprise that Everything Must Go is a companion piece to Two Against Nature, and sounds very much like that album's laid-back, catchy jazz-funk, only with an elastic, loose feel – loose enough to have Walter Becker take the first lead vocal in Steely Dan history, in fact, which sums up the Dan's attitude in a nutshell.
Most rock & roll bands are a tightly wound unit that developed their music through years of playing in garages and clubs around their hometown. Steely Dan never subscribed to that aesthetic. As the vehicle for the songwriting of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Steely Dan defied all rock & roll conventions.
With a bizzare mention of the recording equipment used on the session on the back cover of Katy Lied, rumour was the two main men of the band were not happy with the finished product. I was and still am today. This may not be the best album from the band but neither is this a poor effort as this album contains the songs Black Friday, Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More,Doctor Wu,Chain Lightning and Bad Sneakers. Not a bad list and there are even some more worth a mention but as the backing band had basically fractured with the departure of all the members bar Denny Dias.
This excellent DVD will show you how to nail seven great songs by this influential jazz/rock band! (And maybe your date!) Learn each song and play along with guitar jam tracks. Tom Quayle is a well respected guitarist and teacher whose influences include Greg Howe, Wayne Krantz, Tim Miller and Brett Garsed. He is a regular contributor to iGuitar digital magazine, view issues at iguitarmag.com. His blistering technique has been applauded by guitar legends such as Brett Garsed, and John Petrucci.
For about the thousandth time, these very early recordings by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen that have remained officially unreleased for a reason: they're terrible and only vaguely resemble the actual Steely Dan that came years later. This is not to say that there is no merit to them, only very little, and only for those who are so obsessed by the Steely Dan legend they need to hear every bent note, of which there are plenty here. This is another shabby Dressed to Kill effort that should be avoided. Period.
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