As we’ve covered earlier in the reviews of this album, there are a number of new players and even a new strategy represented by Two Against Nature. Not only do Becker and Fagen take the helm in the production (though it can be argued they always played in role in the production of their CD’s) they also took the reins in playing with Becker taking all the lead guitar parts and Fagen sharing the organ, piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and clavinet with Ted Baker (and Michael Leonhard on one track).
Two Against Nature does sport a revolving drum stool, with 6 drummers appearing on the 9 tracks and who knows how many were called but didn’t make the cut. Both Keith Carlock and Ricky Lawson have mentioned they played on several cuts yet both are only featured once. Two of the ‘new’ players to a Steely Dan project are Tonight Show guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. and drum icon Vinnie Colaiuta. Their contributions to the song “Negative Girl” are priceless.
Jackson, along with Steely Dan/Becker stalwart Dean Parks, assembles rhythm and melody licks that all but defy description. Clean, airy and unobtrusive yet fiery and imaginative licks flow from the guitarists’ fingers. Drummer Colaiuta plays a reggae-like rhythm that could easily be at home on a Walter Becker solo album. Indeed, the drum pattern is a faint reminder of the late Jeff Porcaro’s work on Gaucho and the Dire Straits track, “Calling Elvis”.
The solo on “ Negative Girl” is left to vibraphonist Dave Shank who somehow ties these disparate yet fantastic pieces together. Becker and Fagen don’t play at all on this gem.
Somehow, 5:45 doesn’t seem like enough. A great way to end this album, but it’s not over, yet…