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Music Consumption: Steely Dan
07/02/2000 Steely Dan: live

Really solid, enjoyable show. Tight band, good selection of tunes (although given the classics in the book, they were bound to leave out some favorites), excellent night. Highlights: hearing "Night by Night," a longtime favorite. They did a phenomenal "Hey Nineteen" with Becker providing some excellent soloing, and "The Royal Scam" felt exactly right, opening the tune for me in a new way. Well worthy of mention was the show-closing Larry Carlton homage--"Kid Charlemagne," "Peg," and "Don't Take Me Alive." Jon Herrington's 335 tone was really there, and he managed to pay proper tribute to those solos without aping them, but acknowledging them. I don't think lesser men would want to tackle these, particularly in a row. And it was nice to go out on "FM."

Everyone's a critic: there seemed to be a bit of a problem with the rhythm of the evening--not the timekeeping or drumming, but the flow of the set list. It seemed that when the show elevated, something seemed to take that finely-honed edge off. (The many-minute drum solo stomping all over the middle of "Josie"--very, uh, retro. Or the kinda rambling monologue to the audience in an otherwise mind-blowingly good "Hey Nineteen." The one female backup singer taking the lead for "Dirty Work"... I dunno, guys, just didn't do it for me.)

05/23/2000 Steely Dan: Two Against Nature

Steely Dan: Two Against Nature While a friend of mine put it well by calling their fascination with nubiles "more than a bit sad at their age" (thanks, Ray!), I've found this one growing on me in a big way. Sure it's all mid-tempo funk bop, and sure the snare has been Pro-Tooled into this weird crackly thing, but it's great to have them back. I've always loved Becker's solos on "Black Friday," "Bad Sneakers," and especially "Home at Last," and "Jack of Speed" is a worthy addition to the canon. "Janie Runaway" and "Almost Gothic" are still faves, and from there, the swank pleasures of the other tunes await. ("Negative Girl" is still a weak point of the disc for me--there's that weird structure to the chorus--but overall the disc is still a keeper.)

03/27/2000 Steely Dan: Two Against Nature

Steely Dan's Two Against Nature -- Pitchfork's dislike of this notwithstanding, I've found it vastly enjoyable. On first listen, starting with "Gaslighting Abbie," I was just glad they weren't embarrassing themselves. But the horn arrangement at the end was promising, and "What a Shame about Me" was appropriately not-quite-bitter. The real standouts here, though, come in a string of three: "Janie Runaway" (kind of a "Hey Nineteen" with genuine affection, although there is that Becker twist going on in there), "Almost Gothic" (a song for swingin' adults), and "Jack of Speed" (truly great horn arrangement). With these three tunes, you've got enough justification for the price of the CD. The fact that there are other good ones on there, too--well, extra bonus.