Steely Dan Sunday, “Two Against Nature” (2000)

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The album Two Against Nature marks a turning point for the duo where they say hello to many who will work with them longer than the original Steely Dan band (Michael Leonhart, Keith Carlock, Roger Rosenberg, Carolyn Leonhart Tom Barney…) but goodbye to producer Gary Katz. Becker once said that Katz was put out of a job by technology. They were able to flesh out their song ideas in detail with the use of Protools and sequencers before entering the studio. Also Steely Dan became much more comfortable playing what they heard in their heads and became more precise players.

The song “Two Against Nature” reflects their use of technology. This is one of the songs when Protools is prominently used in the repetitive bass and piano parts and the percussion. Drummer Keith Carlock makes his first Dan appearance but is all but buried by the percussion barrage. It is rumored that Carlock played on several tracks on the album but thought he did not impress Becker and Fagen; he was under the impression he would never be used again. Of course, the rest is history.

The song also marks the first appearance by Becker discovery Jon Herington, who is used on rhythm guitar. Herington also assumed he failed to impress the duo, but has appeared on every Steely Dan tour or Dan related release since.

“Two Against Nature” itself is sweeping and very unlike to prior two album title tracks. The warm up sax opening is weird yet fitting. Becker’s lead guitar and solos remind the listener of how precise and rocking her can be when he wants and the counter call female vocals are as challenging as anything on Aja.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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  • Louis

    I love this album and have seen the Dan Band several times since their re-grouping on this album. Herrington is perfect for the job as he knows what needs to be played on certain songs to give it that Dan feel – (you cannot change the opening to My Old School for instance) but also has learned over the years to put his own stamp onto his playing and improvisations. He gets better with age.

    • Preston Frazier

      Louis, I could not agree more. I see them again this Thursday. I saw Jon Herrington earlier this year with Madeline Peyroux. He was great with her too. Different styles but great. Check out his trio’s new DVD.

  • Doc Mu

    Intro is fabulous, and why this is not the lead track is puzzling. The horn chart is rich and harkens to the height of cool jazz. Potter squaks and bleets us into the 21st Century

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