Poor video and interviews distract from great performance
John A. Michl | Menomonee Falls, WI United States | 07/08/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Oh, if only they could have separated the interviews! The music portion of the DVD is great but every song is followed by a goofy interview. I found this very distracting. Also, the video footage of the concert is a bit too "modern" for my tastes. Funky camera angles - in one shot the bottom 1/4th of the screen shows the heads of the background singers will the upper 3/4ths of the screen shows the top of the soundstage! Huh? Also, the lighting is distracting. Fagen's face is usually in shadows. Finally, the dts mix was so heavy on subwoofer, the furniture started to move and my dog barked. Dolby 5.1 sounded much better.In sum, I'm glad I bought since I have everything Steely Dan, but I wish they spent the time to allow an option to watch the concert straight through."
It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This
Michael D. Moran | Fall River, MA United States | 06/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you've scrolled down the page this far, it's obvious that you're a Steely Dan fan and you, therefore, don't require a long-winded biography of this most unique band and its principal founders, Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. You already know they write great songs with memorable hooks, fascinating lyrics, and keen, jazz-influenced harmony. And no doubt you know that their latest studio album, "Two Against Nature," is their first in nearly twenty years.This extraordinary video concert, taped at Sony Studios in New York this past winter and now available on VHS and DVD, was first presented by PBS Television as an installment of its "In The Spotlight" series. I purchased the DVD and it is remarkable in terms of both the performance and the overall production. If you've seen the PBS version, be advised that the DVD offers essentially the same program, only with few more interview segments, rehearsal footage and short clips of Becker and Fagan humorously interrogating various friends and band members. It also includes an energetic performance of "FM" edited out during my PBS station's pledge week, perhaps to allow more time to pitch tote bags and umbrellas.The old songs like "Kid Charlemagne," "Pretzel Logic," and "Babylon Sisters" sound better than ever. And the new material is superb as well. Thankfully, the concert is produced without the usual obligatory special effects that so often make concert videos annoying. It simply looks and sounds great.While you're waiting for the Steely Dan tour to hit your town this summer, this DVD will have to do it the meantime. And it will do just fine."
Great musicianship and a perfect sound mix make for a winner
G. Ulbrich | Spring Hill, WV USA | 06/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the VH-1 "Storytellers" edition featuring Steely Dan, I honestly didn't have too high hopes for this DVD. "Storytellers" left me wanting for better sound (of course...TV, what could one expect? ), and quite frankly, something that didn't smack of simply "PR" for the new disc. This disc, however, laid all fears to rest. From the opening moments of "Green Earrings", I knew this one was a true winner. This disc features "bang-on" performances from the entire ensemble...no slackers in this crew. Where do they find these guys, anyway? Is there some top-secret underground facility that cultivates and raises top-notch session musicians for Becker and Fagan's private stock? Hmmm..... Sound-wise, there are three choices of mix: Dolby Digital 5.1, which seems to be the most balanced; DTS 5.1, which features far better separation of channels, but typical "overdone" bass; and 2- channel PCM Dolby Stereo. The folks at Digital Theatre Systems (DTS) seem hell-bent on demonstrating the extended headroom DTS is touted to offer over Dolby Digital by trying to blast viewers out of the room with bottom end. While it works wonders for movies such as "Saving Private Ryan", it really is overkill here. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is well-balanced, and just about as good as it can get for a live performance. Highly recommended for Dan Fans!"
Drop this "jazz-rock" party into your shopping cart!
J. Lund | SoCal, USA | 06/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Steely Dan is on the short list of musical artists who have created a distinctive, textured approach that retains its freshness amid the constant shifts in popular music tastes and styles. The video shows that even after nearly three decades they are able to maintain a creative edge without overhauling the "jazz-rock" blueprint best heard on the albums AJA, THE ROYAL SCAM, and TWO AGAINST NATURE. To my delight, the 5.1 digital mix gives the rhythm section a funk-jazzy wallop ala late-period Miles Davis or Marcus Miller. Yet the subtleties of the lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and clever arrangements aren't sacrificed by the punchier mix. Fagen and Becker have done an excellent job of selecting musicians who are disciplined in the right way--avoiding superfluous, cliched gestures while maintaining a controlled looseness and vitality. The rhythm section is fluid, the horns tight (and able to contribute worthy solos when called upon), and the backing vocalists able to provide added textures behind Fagen's pleasantly raspy lead vocals. Equally commendable is their choice of material--a healthy mix of tracks from their new album with some well-chosen classics that continue to inspire the level of performance that made them memorable in the first place. In-between each tune are documentary-like inserts that take the viewer behind-the-scenes. As witty and illuminating as these clips are, the music itself is so impressive that I found myself anxiously waiting for the next tune to begin. Highly recommended to fans of Steely Dan...or anybody who likes jazz-inflected popular music that combines an rich variety of influences into something that continues to challenge and reward the listener with no end in sight."