Steely Dan

Two Against Nature

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 2000 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 101:34 minutes Other Extras None
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Earle Sebastian
Image Entertainment 
Warner Vision
Starring Walter Becker
Donald Fagen
Ted Baker
Ricky Lawson
Tom Barney
Jon Herrington
Cornelius Bumpus
Chris Potter
Michael Leonhart
Jim Pugh
Carolyn Leonhart
Cynthia Calhoun
Victoria Cave
RPI $39.95 Music Walter Becker
Donald Fagen
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256Kb/s)
English (DTS 5.1, 754Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles Danish
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

Plot Synopsis

    This live performance of Steely Dan was filmed very recently at the Sony Music Stages in New York, and is a very intimate concert. The whole way in which the concert was recorded reminded me very much of late night talk shows, especially the U.S. ones like Conan and Jay Leno, where the drummer or whoever is a wannabe celebrity on the show. You know, the bands are jazzy, sophisticated and just downright cool, at least as far as they are concerned. Indeed, most of the performers on this concert would be session musicians if I were to stab a guess. The music is a combination of jazz and blues, which is good enough for me to not want to know about it. It would find no friends in my CD collection, that is for sure.

    The track listing is as follows:
1. Program Start
2. Green Earrings
3. Cousin Dupree
4. Bad Sneakers
5. Janie Runaway
6. Josie
7. fm
8. Gaslighting Abbie
9. Black Friday
10. Babylon Sisters
11. Kid Charlemagne
12. Jack Of Speed
13. Peg
14. What A Shame About Me
15. Pretzel Logic

    The titles alone would scare me away normally. I like my music well-structured, to generally have a point, and to not concern itself with things like sleeping with cousins and so forth, but that's only me. To be honest, the only song I even vaguely liked was What A Shame About Me. Still, those of you who like Steely Dan will be delighted as the presentation of this disc is very good indeed.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is Full Frame, being shot on standard video.

    There is nothing strikingly good or bad about this transfer, and it is on a par with the better concert recordings I have seen on DVD, being very clean and smooth. It certainly suffices, and perhaps the only criticism I have is that the resolution is a tad lower than it should be, with visible jagged structure to near-horizontal lines. This indicates that NTSC video has been converted to PAL for this release. This is something we unfortunately have to put up with in many releases which are shot on video in the U.S., and there is no real point in being too upset about it. Shadow detail was right on the money, with no one lost to the murky shadows in the back of the stage, although it must be said that the black level was just a bit too high which gave the image a slightly flat look. This is, however, being quite picky.

    Colours are a little on the muted side, with the concert lighting seeming slightly undersaturated. Still, the colours are nice, and there are no problems associated with them.

    There were no MPEG artefacts whatsoever during the concert, making for a solid image. There were no artefacts of any kind to speak of, and really there is little to complain about with this transfer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


   Now this is different. There are three English audio tracks on this disc, with Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 to choose from! What more could you want? Let me suggest nothing, and let me also suggest that whichever track you choose will more than please you.

    This is a marvellous recording, and up there with the best live recordings I have heard presented on DVD. I listened variously to all three formats, though focussing mostly on the 5.1 mixes, as you might expect. Since the format can be changed on the fly, this was a very good opportunity to do A-B comparisons between Dolby Digital running at 448 Kilobits per second, and DTS, which whilst I do not know for certain, is probably running at roughly three times that data rate. The most obvious difference between the two 5.1 tracks is that the DTS track is significantly louder than the DD track, and judicial use of the volume control was needed to make a fair comparison. Once I had got both formats running at the same level, to my surprise I noticed very little difference between them. This is a very, very close call, with any differences being very subtle indeed. The DTS track had slightly more spaciousness, with finer resolution of ambience and reverb, with this being apparent mostly on hi-hats and cymbals, which had more presence and depth to them than on the Dolby Digital track.

    Both 5.1 formats had a mild delay problem, which was mostly apparent when the drum kit was visible, and was slightly off-putting. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track had no such issues, being perfectly in sync.

    The mix is essentially forward, with all instruments in the front sound stage, and the rear speakers offering natural room reverb. The crowd was to be found behind and to the sides, with a subtle wrapping effect as though in a semicircle behind you. The three backing singers were also placed in the rears to excellent effect, and I found this configuration give a very good "live" feel to the sound. There was little difference between both tracks when it came to the surround channels, with both formats offering excellent spatial detail, and neither focussing on any particular speaker.

    There is plenty of LFE information to keep the sub happy, and both formats had very tight, clean bass, which really kept things rocking nicely. The kick drum had a real gutsy weight to it, and indeed the entire kit was superbly recorded. Bass lines were very clean and tight, with the DTS track being slightly tighter and more detailed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is very nicely done, with a jazzy feel to it. The menus are animated, with audio accompaniment.

Chapter Stops (15)

R4 vs R1

    Our version is identical to the R1 version, although the NTSC version would have the better transfer given that ours is simply upconverted NTSC anyway. Still, that is certainly not a compelling reason to choose the R1 over the R4 version, and I would call both effectively identical.


    Whilst the music is not really my bag, I can appreciate the musicianship, which is of very high quality.

    The video is very good.

    Giving the consumer three audio choices, including Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 is an excellent decision by the producers of this disc, and I congratulate them for it. I found the DTS track to be slightly higher in resolution, although the quality increase is certainly very subtle indeed. Both surround formats are indeed, as the disc cover proclaims, sensuous, and will surely delight.

    There are a sum total of zero extras, though for me the animated menus are a saving grace. As with other discs like this which are bereft, let me offer a suggestion - a discography, a summary of the history of the band, and biographies of those concerned would be good starting points.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley
12th August, 2000 (read my bio)
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A360 (S-Video output)
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Rear-Projection Widescreen (16x9)
Amplification Sony STRDB-930 (Optically connected)
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100-watt, Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders, Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive