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Showing 1-10 of 140 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 663 reviews
on September 25, 2016
Steely Dan is so unique!

Their music is hard to describe, blending many genres, providing unexpected twists and turns, evoking diverse emotions (often simultaneously), with all of this always conveyed via superb musicianship and sound quality which is beyond just about anything else out there. They strike me as artists who are genuinely unique and interesting people, have a clear artistic vision, and have a virtuosic and perfectionistic ability to make their vision a reality both on albums and, as we experience here, via this live DVD.

The only criticism I can offer is that, while Walter Becker is a good guitarist, his solos aren't memorable, and we would all have been better off if Jon Herrington did most of the solos (his solos, often searing, *are* memorable).

But let's call that a minor criticism. This DVD is a must-have for all Steely Dan fans.
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on December 7, 2016
I say "Hey thirty-nine" because the girl immortalized in the song "Hey Nineteen" would be 39 when this album was released, in the year 2000. (I wonder if she ever figured out who 'Retha Franklin is.) But by no means does the music sound aged. It is fresh and alive, even though I will admit that when I first heard it - jazzy, funky, with insidious horns and sudden, odd chord progressions - I felt as if I were back in my French Quarter apartment with my bosom buddy and partner in crime Paula, in the mid-70's to early 80's, once again receiving data from the avatars of intellectual head music. Few artists can do basically what they were doing 20 years before and make it sound relevant, but Fagen & Becker have done so.

Some tracks remind me of Steely Dan hits from the past. In "Gaslighting Abbie" I hear a little bit of "FM", and echoes of "Hey Nineteen" show up in "What A Shame About Me". "Almost Gothic" has the lush smoothness of "Deacon Blues". Other tracks have their own identity. "Two Against Nature" features a dynamic, percolating beat and an equally active bass line. "Cousin Dupree" has a good beat too, strong and driving. "Jack Of Speed" and "Negative Girl" are a bit mellow, more exploratory and less structured. The last track, "West Of Hollywood", is a fugue of 8:21, busy, all over the place. It synthesizes Steely Dan's stylistic elements, as the final movement of a symphony would synthesize what came before.

The lyrics are mostly about relationships, a couple of them good, the majority flawed. "Gaslighting Abbie" opens with "One plush summer you came to me ripe and ready/And bad through and through." That's a promising start, and the rest of the song seems to describe a rather surreal vacation at "...a big old place...One summer by the sea." Later, on track 4, we hear about a stimulating companion: "Who makes the traffic interesting/Rescues a dreary Sunday/Who makes me feel like painting again/Honey it's you - Janie Runaway". But then, things take a turn for the worse. "Almost Gothic" introduces an enigmatic and irresistible woman: "I'm pretty sure that what she's telling me is mostly lies/But I just stand there hypnotized/I'll just have to make it work somehow/I'm in the amen corner now/It's called love - I spell L-U-V". The "Jack Of Speed" is someone to avoid: "He's changed - yes indeed...he'll be callin' out your name/But don't stop - when you hear him plead". "Cousin Dupree" is enthralled by his cousin Janine, who does not reciprocate: "She turned my life into a living hell/In those little tops and tight capris". The "Negative Girl" jerks people around: "I wait - I smoke/I stare into my coke/It's happening again/I tell myself that it's over and done, amen...maybe she gets to me when she comes back down". With friends like these, who needs enemies? But I think the point is that relationships are seldom perfect, and you just play the cards that fate deals to you, and make your choices. The real beauty of Steely Dan's lyrics lies in lines like "You be the showgirl and I'll be Sinatra", "That right wing hooey sure stunk up the joint", "What's so strange about a down-home family romance?", and "She was Anne de Siècle". Smart, in every sense of the word.
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VINE VOICEon July 17, 2009
Much more than Two Against Nature, because only 5 of the 9 tracks from that CD are featured in this concert video. Instead we get great live versions of Green Earrings, Bad Sneakers, Josie, FM, Peg, Kid Charlemagne, Pretzel Logic, Babylon Sisters and Black Friday, that match or surpass the originals. Wise choice, since all this material is stronger than most of Two Against Nature, my least favorite Dan album. However, even the cuts from that CD performed here are taken up a notch. Oddly absent is the title track, a far better tune than What A Shame About Me, which they chose to include instead.

Five stars for excellent audio quality and a very fine ensemble performance by Dan and musicians. I have a gripe with the unnecessarily quick-change camera work and weird angles that distract from just looking at the screen and enjoying the sounds. However, the main attraction remains the audio, and it's easy enough to focus on that once you get used to it.

In between songs is a variety of candid footage, including some "interviews" to which Donald and Walter subject several of their band members. These consist primarily of Donald and Walter heaping psychobabble on their victims in a manner I found frankly hilarious. Not sure what this says about me, but it's probably not good. I understand the negative comments many have posted regarding these interruptions in the concert flow, but personally I don't mind them. They're short and easy enough to skip over.

This is one concert video that I will continue to play, since the performances and audio are on a par with or better than the original recordings. Most definitely worth owning if you're a Dan fan.
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on September 28, 2016
Accolades to, "Two Against Nature" as well as ANY and ALL Steely Dan. In fact, "accolades" is an understatement to the creative genius that is Steely Dan.
Now traveling through interstellar space, there is this "Golden Phonograph Record" that was placed/mounted aboard both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 that contains sounds, music, and images depicting life on Earth that some intelligent alien life may find someday. It's disappointing that Steely Dan is not among those recordings.
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on March 6, 2000
Would it be going way out on a limb to call this the best Steely Dan album ever? Definitely not: it is. Better than Aja? Amazing, but true: yes.
The music is for the most part straight-ahead jazz; engineering, sound & performances are impeccable. Each cut is a carefully crafted gem, with arrangements so complex & deep you can happily drown in them, yet crisp and precise. The melodies (notably on "Almost Gothic," "Negative Girl" and "West of Hollywood") don't end up where they seem at first to be going, so it's a delightful challenge to try and capture them (you probably won't at first hearing). Unbelievably sophisticated and intricate.
OK, so why "the best SD album EVER"? First, because the musical arrangements have grown up with the guys. In the past, it seemed to me that from time to time, some really beautiful SD music was sometimes given short shrift in the orchestrations in favor of a decision to pander to pop dictates or to go for the "jokey": almost as if we were being instructed not to take this music TOO seriously. None of that here; the sound is fuller, richer, with every horn/string/etc. necessary. Truly beautiful music.
Second, because the songs themselves are as wicked and sly lyrically as any classic Dan, but suggest at the same time a certain middle-aged wistfullness and regret which I find quite engaging.
Chris Potter's sax solo on "West of Hollywood" deserves special attention - not that you could HELP hooking into it immediately!
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VINE VOICEon June 27, 2003
I don't know why I waited so long to buy this. I must confess that I taped it when it was shown on PBS, but there is a huge difference in quality between the television broadcast and the dvd.
The quality of the sound is excellent - would you expect anything less from Steely Dan? Sitting in the middle of the surround sound either in DTS or Dolby Digital mode makes it seem like you were there at the concert. Hearing the horns come from the rear speakers is kind of odd at first but it actually places you as one of the band members at the concert. I like the DTS better but they're both done very well. Every instrument is so clear and distinct, and everything is in balance. The video portion is done well, too. And the songs: I am a big Steely Dan fan so all I can say is the music is great. I especially like the way "Bad Sneakers" was performed.
I've read many complaints about the inteviews spliced in between the songs. I just skip them. After one song is done, I press the button for the next track and am right at the beginning of the next song. So I don't understand why some people are raving mad about the interview parts - the only thing I can think of is that they changed the dvd and previously you couldn't skip the interviews. Otherwise, my feeling is, don't be so lazy! Just press the skip button on your remote!!
Anyway, this is one great dvd from one great band. I love it.
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on March 12, 2000
Before you do anything, budget time to listen 5 or 6 times straight through- trust me, will be one of your better days on the planet. It's so good, it was almost worth waiting the 20 years for. Fagan & Becker's song writing has matured with age- like the finest of wines. These guys are pure geniuses- rivaled only by Lennon & McCartney (John's jamming by the gates with his headphoes on- God even has asked to turn it up). Favoties- wow, tough call. Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 are so smooth, you'll just rock back and smile. "Almost Gothic" reminds me of "Dirty Work"- sweeter than honey- I'm talking chills down the spine stuff. Janie Runaway? leaving to find her in NYC, if she hasn't blown out candles already in Spain. It's so intense, I haven't even gone near the title track. Buy it- enjot it- share it with the kids and anyone else who has a brain in their head Thanks, DF/WB. And don't worry about 35% who are mad- if I ever played with you and weren't on this, I might be irratated too- BUT I bet they listen when no one watches!
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on November 26, 2015
I like this Steely Dan album, lots of catchy tunes. A down to earth Steely Dan album
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The nay-sayers have their day but in the end great work like this rises above the noisome patter that passes for critiques. The people who refer to this as glorified elevator music are free to give Steely Dan a pass next time around. Smooth and sophisticated is not canned. The maturity of the production evident I these tracks fools people who are used to all the sturm und drang that passes for popular music today.
Reading the complaints that all the songs are the same is pretty sad but expected. There are none of the variable wanging riffs and thunderous hooks that beat their sameness set to different rhythms (more of today's excuse for popular music) into poor sounding bass vs. treble mediocrity here.
What is here is a subtle but observantly sharp musical performance at it's best. Becker and Fagen take full advantage of the audio tech heads to bring wit and clarity to their craft.
The first track, Gaslighting Abbie is pop decadence, sweet, potent but also subversive fun.
What a Shame About Me cuts straight to the ego driven life of foundering celebrity, life passing him by as he tries to remain relevant. From a musical perspective the arrangement is spare with obvious but low key hooks acting as a sparse but strangely rich landscape that carries the first person account through it's desperate odyssey.
Those are just the first two tracks and they're not the strongest in the line-up.
In the end a person either gets this stuff or they don't. Some nostalgia heavy fans will dismiss this as not as good as their past work in the seventies. That's too bad because this is as good and in some ways better.
This is music that digs deep and etches itself on your DNA if the listeners give in to it and stop demanding that their expectations be met. In fact this is just like their best work in that it creeps in and takes up residence.
Not everyone is bound to like this. Those who do will carry these musical extravagances with them until they shuffle off their mortal coils.
For what it's worth my two favorite tracks are Almost Gothic and West of Hollywood. These two guys never cease to provide me with a sense of musical wonder.
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on April 10, 2004
Most people said that Steely Dan's reunion tours of the early 90s were some of the most "unlikely" musical events of the decade. So naturally, when "Two Against Nature" was released in 2000, fans and critics were elated with both glee and anxiety; it was their first studio release in twenty years, but after those twenty years, perhaps the odds were not looking kindly on Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Becker said "I think the audience for Limp Bizkit is probably not going to be interested." Fagen added "Compare the names Steely Dan and Limp Bizkit, you have the answer right there." But a break in the Top Ten and four Grammys proved everyone wrong; "Two Against Nature" won Album of the Year, fortunately beating Eminem for the honor, a feat that's not bad for your first album of new material in twenty years.
When one puts the whole thing in perspective, Steely Dan are the perfect "band" (i.e. duo) for this day and age; their self-criticizing cynicism and sardonic outlooks were just aching to address the musical world of the new millenium. The material cynically embraces a slew of characters who fit seamlessly with those created by Becker and Fagen in the 70s; Steely Dan sarcastically charms the self-absorbed girls one might encounter at the local mall ('Almost Gothic,' 'Negative Girl'), the narrators of the songs humorously getting nowhere as they are "hit with cryptic stuff" and "jerked around." Other tracks continue the dismal marches of the male characters one would have found in previous works like 'Midnite Cruiser' or 'Deacon Blues'; 'Jack of Speed' is a sharp example, while 'What a Shame About Me' is lyrically devastating and, as always with Becker and Fagen, musically misleading. Smooth, cool, and addictive music ironically tells the lyrical tales that are unusual and disturbing ('Cousin Dupree'), almost-sincere (almost being the key word) longings for something past (the title track, 'West of Hollywood') and just-out-of-reach romances ('Gaslighting Abbie,' 'Janie Runaway').
As always, the stories from the gutter and the more beautiful gutters are masked behind such sleek, glossy instrumentation, and Steely Dan seem as if they spent those twenty years plotting to address the year 2000. But the truth is, "Two Against Nature" proves that this kind of musical achievement can only come from a duo that knows exactly what to say and when to say it.
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