Rolling Stone - 1/4/01, p.117
Included in Rolling Stone's "Top 50 Albums of 2000".
Rolling Stone - 3/16/00, p.723.5 stars out of 5
- "...[The album] is Steely Dan defined....mixing world-class chops and jazzy postgraduates soul sound with some wonderful, vague storytelling....stunning musical clarity....showcasing what Steely Dan's core twosome can do..."
Entertainment Weekly - 3/10/00, pp.68-9
"...The core elements are unchanged: white-hot chops, black humor, and a flair for the cryptic....their ensemble sound remains sharp and inimitable....proves that you [still] 'can' buy a thrill."
Q - 4/00, p.944 stars out of 5
- "...a demanding slice of music, brilliantly out of sync....its appeal is slow-burning and ultimately satisfying: enough to keep the faithful happy for another 20 years."
Uncut - 3/00, p.905 stars out of 5
- "...TWO AGAINST NATURE is the very best thing Steely Dan have ever done..."
Vibe - 4/00, p.183
"...musically [they] are in their prime....this is the only band that truly understands how James Brown's scratchy grooves and the Eagles' lite-rockin' appeal aren't mutually exclusive. These OGs flex their trademark dark wit like it never went out of style..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 3/00, p.102
"...Sharp, sleek, sophisticated, more going on than a couple of spins can take in and seductive enough to keep drawing you back. 9 tracks, some a little cooler, funkier or jazzier than others...and all top-form. Quintessentially Steely Dan."
NME (Magazine) - 3/4/00, p.357 out of 10
- "...exquisite....still hermetically sealed in an exclusive world where the pursuit of the immaculate 'chop' is paramount, [they] are the only men in history to make the concept of the cerebral muso remotely tantalising..."
Steely Dan: Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards); Walter Becker (guitar, bass).
Additional personnel: Hugh McCracken, Jon Herington, Dean Parks, Paul Jackson Jr. (guitar); Roger Rosenborg (clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone); Roger Rosenberg, Lawrence Feldman (clarinet, saxophone); Roy Hitchcock (clarinet); Lou Marini, Chris Potter, Dave Tofani (saxophone); Michael Leonhart (trumpet, Wurlitzer); Jim Pugh (trombone); Ted Baker (piano, Fender Rhodes piano); Steve Shapiro, Dave Shank (vibraphone); Tom Barney (bass); Keith Carlock, Vinnie Colaiuta, Michael White, Ricky Lawson, Sonny Emory, Leroy Clouden (drums); Daniel Sadownick, Gordon Gottlieb (percussion); Amy Helm (whistler); Carolyn Leonhart, Cynthia Calhoun, Michael Harvey (background vocals).
Engineers include: Phil Burnett, Roger Nichols, Elliot Scheiner.
Recorded at River Sound, Clinton Sound and Electric Lady, New York, New York; Hyperbolic Sound, Maui, Hawaii.
TWO AGAINST NATURE won the 2001 Grammy Award for Album Of The Year, won the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album, won the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album and "Cousin Dupree" won the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
Personnel: Any Helm (whistling); Dean Parks, Hugh McCracken, Paul Jackson, Jr. , Walter Becker (guitar); Jon Herington (acoustic guitar); Lawrence Feldman (clarinet, saxophone, tenor saxophone); Roger Rosenberg (bass clarinet, baritone saxophone); David Tofani (saxophone); Chris Potter (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Lou Marini (alto saxophone); Michael Leonhart (trumpet, Wurlitzer organ); Michael Hitchcock (trumpet); Jim Pugh (trombone); Donald Fagen (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, organ, Wurlitzer organ); Ted Baker (piano, Fender Rhodes piano); David Schenk, Steve Shapiro (vibraphone); Michael White (drums, snare drum); Ricky Lawson (drums); Leroy Clouden, Sonny Emory, Keith Carlock, Vinnie Colaiuta (snare drum); Daniel Sadownick (timbales, percussion); Will Lee , Gordon Gottlieb (percussion); Cynthia Calhoun, Mike Harvey, Carolyn Leonhart (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Dave Russell ; Roger Nichols .
Recording information: Clinton Sound, New York, NY; Electric Lady, New York, NY; Hyperbolic Sound, Maui, HI; River Sound, New York, NY.
Editor: Jan Folkson.
Photographers: Walter Becker; Jason Fulford.
Arrangers: Donald Fagen; Walter Becker.
In the 20 years that elapsed between 1980's GAUCHO and its follow-up, Steely Dan linchpins Donald Fagen and Walter Becker dabbled in solo projects, toured with the Rock & Soul Revue, and spent most of the '90s gearing up for the band's long-awaited eighth studio album, TWO AGAINST NATURE. Only nine songs long, TWO AGAINST NATURE is a clear example of quality over quantity. As has been the modus operandi throughout Steely Dan's existence, Fagen and Becker gathered an impressive backup crew of jazz players with impeccable chops to season the proceedings.
With both Becker and Fagen hovering around age 50, it's not surprising that most of this rich material deals with the uncertainties of middle age. Themes addressed include the complexities of relationships, whether they involve family ("Cousin Dupree"), a toxic significant other ("Negative Girl"), or an old flame met by chance ("What a Shame About Me"). Throughout, Steely Dan manages to successfully straddle the lines between light jazz, bebop, and the fusion from which the duo has previously borrowed nuances.