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Eclectic Earwig Reviews

Steely Dan, Two Against Nature (51:30); 24719-2, 2000
Giant Records
75 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10019-6908
Cyberhome: www.GiantRecords.com

It's hard to know what to expect from a band after an absence of 
nearly two decades, but safe to say that this new batch of Steely Dan 
songs takes a little while to grow on the listener. Some just don't 
work: "What a Shame About Me" tells a compelling tale but gets bogged 
down in the chorus; "Janie Runaway" and "Cousin Dupree" are plain 
annoying. But Becker & Fagen's signature airtight funk is all over 
the record, and some of the grooves are irresistible. "Jack of Speed" 
and the shimmying 6/4 title cut are standouts. And "Almost Gothic" 
will win you over: "She's pure science with a splash of black cat/ 
She's almost gothic and I like it like that."
	Becker plays nearly all the lead guitar, which is a switch. 
He's masterful with brief, tasty fills, but leaves one hungering for 
Larry Carlton or Steve Khan. On the other hand, Chris Potter blows 
substantial tenor on "Gaslighting Abbie" and "West of Hollywood," and 
his alto spot on "Janie Runaway" nearly redeems the song. Vinnie 
Colaiuta plays drums on the odd-but-good "Negative Girl." Trumpeter 
Michael Leonhart and vibist Dave Schenk squeeze highly effective 
eight-bar solos into "Almost Gothic" and "Negative Girl," 
respectively. And studio guitar wizards Hugh McCracken and Dean Parks 
rear their heads on a track apiece.
	By the standards of their previous work, Two Against 
Nature isn't a great Steely Dan album. But as long as they've 
still got the urge, more power to them.
David R. Adler, 3/17/00

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