Monthly Archives: December 2010

Secret Treaties

In 1974, Blue Öyster Cult released their third studio album, Secret Treaties. I’m reviewing it tonight because it’s got a song about New Year’s Eve. Which one? Well, there’s a story there…

A friend of mine once said, “Never read or pay too much attention to the lyrics of a Blue Öyster Cult song.” He was right. It’s best not to look too closely at the soft white underbelly of a BÖC song. They tend to… disturb… so I’ll let the seasonal reference pass since it might cause a listener to listen too closely to the song in question and then become… disturbed…

Early BÖC was all about science fiction, and this album delivers. It’s highly creative and inspiring in its own right. Two of the songs from this album (three if you count the reissue CD) have inspired short stories of mine, so I’ve got a candle burning for you, BÖC. You could say this album can really take me away. (Real BÖC fans are probably grinning from behind their sunglasses thinking about what it must have been like, back when it was past midnight in 1964…)

So enough of the inside references, I promise. This is Heavy Metal Rock and Roll, 1974 vintage. These guys don’t sing about girls and cars: they sing about ghouls and ME 262s. l listen to the regular album all the way through, but the bonus tracks on the remastered CD aren’t all winners. Since I originally bought the vinyl for the original 8 songs, I give it a 10, especially for “Astronomy,” the epic closer of the album. Originally, I thought about giving it a 9 because “ME 262” wasn’t long enough, but forgave them when I remembered I’ve got an extended live version from another album, On Your Feet or on Your Knees.

I’m telling you, kids, this is real Heavy Metal. The album titles don’t lie. Not all the tracks on Secret Treaties are high-velocity slammers, but the pacing works for the album and really sets a mood with expertise. It’s one of their finest releases and should be part of any serious rock fan’s collection.

Taare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth)

Taare Zameen Par is a wonderful, wonderful film about the importance of loving children, even if it means accepting their mistakes or letting them get their hands dirty. I found it powerful and emotional and loved every minute of Aamir Khan’s excellent film.

You will not want to watch this without facial tissues nearby. Have 2 boxes, just in case.

The story focuses on a young child with a learning disability, but in a broader sense, it takes a look at everyone caught up in the world. It’s a celebration of caring, of great teachers, and, above all, the arts. It was hard for me to watch the child suffer so much at the beginning, but I held on because I knew Aamir Khan was making a movie about redemption and celebration – no Rang De Basanti ending here. For those that haven’t seen that movie, it had a sad ending. For those that have seen that movie, you know “sad” is a gross understatement. No, Taare Zameen Par is, in the end, a happy film with a great sense of humor.

If you’re a teacher, involved in the arts, or a current or former child, you will want to see this film. I’d give it a PG because of some brief cursing of swears and the fact that things are really hard on the protagonist. For a great treat in your Netflix queue or local Bollywood movie store, get a copy of Taare Zameen Par and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

What’s Next?

I started listening to this album to get ready to review it and I’m now on my third time through it for the day, taking in the soaring guitar solo on “Something’s Comin’ Our Way,” the last track on side one. Oh man, forget Guitar Hero or any of that video game nonsense. Get a REAL guitar and try and match the notes in this brain-melting solo.

This album’s perfect. It’s got a 10. I don’t skip anything on it because I’ve got to hear every single note on this platter. Why rate it at the beginning of the review after discussing just one song in the middle? It’s in the style of the album. Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush meant no-nonsense Rock and Roll. So why piddle around with a lot of metaphors and junk like that? This is Rock with a capital R, at its very finest.

Oh man, that solo… GO FRANK GO!!! The rest of the band is in top form on this album and it’s a non-stop invitation to get into a hot rod and let the right foot just take over and do what it does best.

That’s if you got the vinyl or the CD version with bonus tracks. If you see an offer to buy the CD made by the Black Rose label, avoid it at all costs. The sound is terrible on that. Me, I got my MP3s ripped from vinyl and they sound delicious.

This is a guitar lover’s album. If you’re some kid combing his hair over half his face in skinny jeans thinking you know a thing or two about making noise because you own a Led Zeppelin shirt, you need to hear this album and recalibrate your perception of the world accordingly, particularly in the music department. You could lose the hairstyle and clothing next, adopting the flannel ‘n’ jeans combo popular among the guitar heroes of the late 1970s. Then you’d have no excuse but to learn how to play that axe and make it cry and scream.

And you could do so much worse than to have Frank Marino as your Guitar God. You could also do so much worse than to learn what Heavy Metal used to be by listening to this disc. I’m sick of cookie monsters and shriekers with monotonous rhythm sections. Metal used to mean big, tough music that sounded great as it made your ears bleed and killed your lawn. Now Metal mostly just upsets parents because they expected their kids to have better taste than that. Frank Marino is no poser in makeup and hairspray. He does his own singing, but he lets his guitar do the talking.

Hang on just a minute… I’m in the long jam that starts four minutes into “Loved By You.” Be right back after I’m done respecting the music. Oh yeah, Frank, make that guitar earn its paycheck…

All right, I’m back for a while… but I’m going to have to check out before the powerhouse double shot of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame” and a cover of Bo Diddley’s “Mona” closes out the album’s set list… and that’s what it seems like. This doesn’t sound like it took a bunch of takes to get things right. What’s Next plays straight through, like the band showed up in the studio, played a 43-minute concert, and then packed up and went home. It feels like a live show in its intensity, connection with the audience, and even acoustic qualities. It’s loud, brash, and a sample of what real Metal should sound like.

And I’m going to start it over again when I’m done with this review so I can hear that opening blast of “You Got Livin'” one more time today. That’s an anthem for life, I’m telling you.

When you’re done listening to the album and through thanking me for the hot tip, you’ll be able to understand why I put so little stock in “Top (x) of All Time” lists. Rolling Stone’s list of 100 fancy banjo players doesn’t mention Marino at all. It’s got guitarists famous for being dead or for being in bands with famous singers on the list that Marino could wipe the floor with. Whatever. Marino’s the real deal and What’s Next is perhaps his strongest album in his discography.

Time to start it over, now. Do yourself a favor and get this album. You’re welcome and Rolling Stone can take a hike.

Brasilidade

Wednesday’s child has far to go, so Wednesday reviews should be for music from parts both far and wide. Today’s Wide World of Music casts some sunshine on Brazil’s Bossacucanova and their excellent release, Brasilidade.

Bossacucanova collaborated with one of the founders of the Bossa Nova sound, Roberto Menescal, to revisit 12 classics of the Bossa Nova’s heyday in the late 60s. Although the songs are familiar, they receive some new arrangements and the occasional updated percussion dance beat to renew them for the 21st century.

I like the whole album. It’s jaunty, warm, and smooth going like a glass of fresh mango juice. It kicks off with “Telefone,” a comic tune that’s perfect for wrangling your way out of a crowded parking lot or pulling out into a busy street. It’s the streets of São Paulo pouring out of my speakers! The mood kicks back for “Nana” before getting into a great, rich, strong vocal in “Rio” that’s straight out of Brasil ’66’s playbook.

Next up is the clever samba, “Guanabara.” I close my eyes when I hear this track and I find myself wearing an ice cream suit with a white fedora, somewhere near the coast of Bahia. It’s tropical perfection, no two ways about it. We then arrive at the classic, “Agua de Beber,” which Bossacucanova bring to a new-

OK, I hear you interrupting me… am I writing a review or liner notes? I guess I *do* love the album that much. It’s great for chilling out, driving around, trying to forget the winter, or getting in the mood to have some summer fun. Other reviewers have said pretty much the same. It’s upbeat, uptempo, and uptown.

I suppose one could criticize it if one was a curmudgeon or some punk kid that can’t get into any music that doesn’t curse a swear within 20 seconds of the beginning of a song. But I’m writing my reviews for people with good taste in tunes, so fie on those nay-sayers that believe music shouldn’t be happy or fun. This is a party on a plastic platter, people.

Take my strong recommendation and find out how cool the other tracks are on this album. I give it a 10 out of 10 because if I accidentally grabbed this CD on my way to the desert island instead of Machine Head, I wouldn’t be disappointed in the least.

Second Helping

Tuesdays should be for second albums, the infamous sophomore efforts that either hope to avoid the mistakes of first albums or meet the standards set on the first release. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Second Helping seemed as good a place to start with that theme, given its name and what-not. It’s also a great rocker of an album.

I’m going to say that I love all the songs on this album, save one, “The Ballad of Curtis Loew.” I never got into it when I was a kid and I never grew warm to it after a few attempts to “get it” since then. In over 25 years of ownership, I’ve never gotten to where I like that song. I don’t necessarily hate it, either, so it’s not really a drag on the whole album. It’s just a song I skip and I want you all to know up front that it’s going to affect my final score for the album. I can’t give it a perfect 10 if there’s something on it that I don’t like in some form or fashion and that’s that.

With that difficult bit out of the way, let me focus on the other seven songs. The album opens with a KFC commercial… I have to say I HATE KFC for taking that great anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama,” and turning it into a vehicle for the sales of its fried chicken which, truth be told, I find inferior to Golden Chick, Popeye’s, and Church’s. “Sweet Home Alabama” is a perfect answer song to Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” but it stands on its own merits as a guitar army anthem. Fun fact: Neil Young and Ronnie Van Zant were good friends and Van Zant wears a Neil Young t-shirt on the cover of Skynyrd’s third album, Nuthin’ Fancy.

“Sweet Home Alabama” is as necessary to a classic rock playlist as watts are to a radio station. If you want to hear it for yourself, find a classic rock station and wait about half an hour. You’ll hear it. For me, I my 10th grade Chemistry class seatmate Amy Etheridge… whenever the teacher was done for the day and retired to the supply room, we’d enjoy our free time by cranking up our air guitars and opening with “Sweet Home Alabama.” We’d sing those great chords and then, “Toin it up…” Good times. No way can I be objective about this one, so lucky for me it’s one of rock’s great tracks.

“I Need You” follows up with a deep, bluesy feel. It’s rich in emotion and pain and should be an object lesson to all young punks getting started these days: you can communicate your pain without having to scream. You don’t have to not play your instruments, either, so get back to the garage and practice some more.

How about the fun of “Don’t Ask Me No Questions?” Like “Gimme Three Steps” from their first answer, this one’s a great uptempo number with a smart lyric. It leads perfectly into “Workin’ for MCA” which ironically discusses the very topics the band distanced themselves from in “Don’t Ask Me No Questions.” Controversy, amirite? No, it’s rock and roll not taking itself very seriously, and that’s the best way to take it. The pair are a great couple and the guitar work is top-notch. When you get three guitarists that know what they’re doing, it makes for a great sound, let me tell you what.

Side two opens with… no, I skip that one… it opens – for me – with “Swamp Music.” This is what I call a deep cut. It doesn’t get much airplay, but since I don’t listen to the radio anymore, I can track it up on my MP3 playlists as often as I’d like and this one gets heavy rotation on my PC. The bass line does it for me on this track. It propels the popcorn guitar and drums on down the road like a pickup going over a dirt road somewhere in the pine trees… Not gonna lie, I get red dirt in my mouth when I play this song. I can practically smell the bait shack when this song is going. If you’re city folks that cain’t understand th’ country, then perhaps you best not mess with this one. Just head th’ tuther way and as you keep walkin’, you can wonder what “tuther” means. For those of us what understands “tuther,” we’re gonna enjoy this song, hear?

“The Needle and the Spoon,” ironically co-written by Allen Collins, whose drug abuse problems dogged him all his life, right up to when he had to be wheeled out on stage, paralyzed from the waist down and unable to play guitar, just before “That Smell” so he could address the audience about the danger of drug abuse as part of his plea-bargain for a vehicular manslaughter charge. Sadly, Collins turns in a great guitar line on what forms part of the epitaph of his life.

The album closes with a rousing southern-fried rendition of JJ Cale’s “Call Me the Breeze.” This is a song made for guitars to rock in unison to. It’s a great driving song, to boot. Solid rhythm, fun singalong lyrics, and awesome fills. It’s not for the interstate, with its straight, unimaginative flatness. It’s for the state highway, wending its way from town to town. Heck, even if you’re stuck in traffic, it’s a great song to have with you unlike some real racers that only frustrate at the stop lights and school zones. “Call Me the Breeze” is great any time, any where, and in any weather conditions – should be particularly ironic during a hurricane, now that I think about it.

In Second Helping, Skynyrd delivered on the promise of their Pronounced album. “Free Bird” and “Simple Man” find their matches in enduring enjoyability in “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Call Me the Breeze.” I keep coming back to this album after all these years and I still have a great time with it. I suppose that’s why I like writing these retrospective album reviews – it’s long after the initial shock or thrill of the album has passed and I get to answer the question, “how well has it stood the test of time?” In the case of Second Helping, I’m up for thirds, if there’s any left. It gets a 9 out of 10 because there’s hardly anything not to love about it.

Can’t Buy a Thrill

I decided to use my Mondays to review albums that, for one reason or another, failed for me. That’s sort of the spirit of a Monday, right? I’ll kick off that policy with Steely Dan’s 1972 release, Can’t Buy a Thrill.

Some folks out there may be looking at me like I’m an idiot for suggesting that the album ain’t up to scratch. After all, it’s on Rolling Stone’s top 500 list at number 238 – it made the top 50%. Well, I could say some things about those top (x) album of all time lists… they tend to be shortsighted and focused more on who’s hot now than on who actually made a good album. Both of Tommy Bolin’s solo albums are absolutely amazing, but neither of them made it to a top 500 list. I think both of them are better than this album, but Bolin’s dead and can’t promote his work, so there we are.

Of the ten songs on the album, I only like four, and two of those are flat-out amazing. “Do It Again” and “Reelin’ in the Years” deserve a better fate than this album. If they took “Kings” and “Change of the Guard” with them to start a new album, I’d wish them the best of success. The other six tracks reveal how insecure the very early Steely Dan was with itself. David Palmer, the lead vocalist on “Dirty Work” and “Brooklyn (Owes the Charmer Under Me)” is just not right for the songs crafted by Becker and Fagen. He was brought in because Fagen had issues with stage fright and the execs at ABC records were worried that Fagen’s voice wouldn’t be commercial enough. Shows what they know, right?

I remember hearing “Dirty Work” when I was a kid and I took an immediate dislike to it, particularly the vocals. By contrast, I kinda liked the sly wit in “Do It Again” and I thought the vocals were perfect for that little number. Imagine my surprise when I got the boxed set of Steely Dan and hit the former song immediately after enjoying the latter song. I tried to reconcile the paradox, but failed. As a result, I skip right over “Dirty Work.” In a modern context, that means I never bothered to rip that song from the CD to my hard drive. Same thing for five other songs off the album.

As an EP with just the four songs I like, Can’t Buy a Thrill actually works out well. “Kings” seems to foreshadow Watergate in an eerie way and “Change of the Guard” has a good vibe through it that points towards “Time Out of Mind” off of Gaucho. “Reelin’ in the Years” and “Do It Again” are classic rock radio staples, but they remain as fresh to me today as they were when I first heard them. I attribute the quality of the lyrics and songwriting to their staying power. If I had to purchase this album with today’s technology, I’d download individual MP3s of the songs I liked, unless I could find a copy of the CD for less than $4, shipping and handling included. Given S&H prices these days, it looks like a digital download as the best way to go if one insists upon an album-by-album purchase.

Don’t let the lameness of six of the tracks scare you away from buying Steely Dan’s boxed set. Citizen Steely Dan is a great one-stop shop of all of SD’s greatness from 1972-1980. I’ve been very happy with my ownership of that product. I suppose my satisfaction is enhanced by the fact that I only ripped the 48 tracks I like the most and left the other 18 on the CD. Two of the tracks I disregarded were live performances that are nice from an archival perspective, but not eminently listenable. That leaves 16 studio tracks I didn’t care for, and six of those came from this album. By comparison, I only skipped three out of eight from Steely Dan’s second album, 2 of 11 from Pretzel Logic, 3 of 10 from Katy Lied, 2 out of 9 from The Royal Scam, and no skips from the excellent Aja and Gaucho.

But if you’re looking for a thrill in Can’t Buy a Thrill, you’ll find it all right, but the cost may be too high if you have to carry the deadweight on the album. Overall, it’s a sad little 4 on a 1-10 scale. If it was an EP with the four songs I liked off it, that rating would be higher. Listening to it makes me so glad Fagen got over his insecurity and became the voice for Steely Dan.

The Guqin

When I was in China, I wanted to find a CD of guqin music. Why? Well, the answer has to do with Academic Decathlon…

I’m an Academic Decathlon coach for Berkner High School and back in 2006, the main theme was Chinese civilization. Me and my team immersed ourselves in Chinese history, art, and music. Although not all the music CD was stuff I liked – the Beijing Opera piece was particularly cringe-inspiring – the guqin (pronounced goo-chin) pieces were very soothing and lovely. In China, the quqin, a long zither-like instrument, is considered the instrument of the scholar and philosopher, making it appropriate for inspiring calm, collected thought.

So, around Thanksgiving 2006, I was in Beijing and I wandered on in to a Xinhua News Book Store and looked over their wares. There, in the music section, was a triple CD of guqin music. Three and a half hours of serenity, all for 10 yuan, or $1.25 American at the time. I have no idea what the track names are, since they are all in Chinese. It doesn’t matter, though, because I can play this collection straight through without stopping, over and over and over again.

As a collection, it’s not monumental or critical or anything like that. I don’t even know the title of the CD. All I know is that classical Chinese guqin playing is beautiful stuff, especially for a cool, rainy Sunday afternoon when one wants to contemplate things. Overall, I rate my Chinese CD as a happy 8, since that’s a rather auspicious number in Chinese numerology. If you like to chill out, seek for traditional Chinese guqin music, kick back, and read a little Zhuang Zi while you’re at it.

Elvis Christmas

I picked this one up last year at the main Half-Price Books here in Dallas and have been having fun with it ever since. The CD itself is in three parts. The first part is Elvis doing some secular Christmas numbers, including the fun, boisterous “Santa Claus Is Back in Town.” That’s the first six tracks, and they’re perfect for those Christmas parties where people are more concerned with having fun than doing something religious. There’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion, as there is a great cultural agglomeration around Christmas that has more to do with it as an American holiday than as a strictly Christian one. These are for fun and having some holiday cheer.

The next eight tracks are for the Christians observing Christmas. They include four standard Christmas hymns with four other spirituals all done in a deeply reverent style. Those are the ones I’m listening to right now to finish off my Christmas Day festivities. It’s no secret that I’m Christian, and I love taking time to remember the spirit of the season from the perspective of my religion. If you don’t like that sort of thing, this third of the album isn’t for you. If you do like that sort of thing, get thee hence and acquire it. Elvis’ arrangements are classics in their own right and his voice sings out clear and pure with an incredible range and emotion behind it. Yes, there are aspects of the first six of these songs that date them to the 1950s, but I like those aspects. You have to take the music in a larger context and hear that voice of Elvis’. That voice is timeless and is what demands to be listened to, even though on these tracks the singer is not at all concerned with himself, but with his relationship with Jesus and God. His performance on “O Come All Ye Faithful” is beautiful and breathtaking. For me, this is my favorite part of the album, and it’s for private moments of reflection.

The last two gospel songs and the following nine tracks come to us from Elvis circa 1971, 14 years after the first 12 tracks. The remaining nine I haven’t yet described are all Christmas standards like “White Christmas” and “Silver Bells.” While the 1957 secular tracks are playful and even edgy, these recordings are straight-ahead renditions that stay faithful to the conventions surrounding them. That’s not to say they’re not worth hearing: it’s just to say that this is Elvis at a more mature phase of his career and that’s reflected in the way he handles his material. He’s still ever the master craftsman with his performances and just because he’s more serious and straightforward doesn’t take away from his voice and passion. Personally, I like my Christmas songs done in a restrained style: Trans-Siberian Orchestra is all right for a little while, but it can leave me feeling a little bludgeoned after that little while. These arrangements are light and mobile and don’t do anything to offend. They’re fun and make a perfect soundtrack to the season.

On my 1-10 scale, I have to put it at a 9 for people that enjoy the spiritual aspects of the season and a 6 for those that prefer just a soundtrack for parties, and that’s only because you’ll be skipping a third of the album to get those party tunes. If you only want a gospel CD, this one’s a 3 on that scale and you’d be better off cherry-picking the MP3s you want with a digital download. I want it all, so I’m happy with my ranking it at a 9. It’s a great listen, but I tend to not play it all the way through. I’ll pick and choose based on my mood, but every track is one I enjoy in the proper context.

An Album Review a Day?

I love music… I’ve got lots and lots of records… so why not? How about an album review a day?

I’ll start with my #1 Desert Island Album: Machine Head by Deep Purple.

From the opening chords of “Highway Star” to the fadeout of “Space Truckin'”, this album has always been a thrill for me to listen to. I’ll always remember getting it in December 1981, back when I was in the 8th grade and had already bought all the Led Zeppelin albums. I got into Deep Purple because a girl whose taste in music I despised said she couldn’t stand Deep Purple, so I had to check them out. I had gotten a greatest hits compilation, Deepest Purple, as an introduction to the band and although three of the seven songs from the US release of Machine Head were on that disc, it was still a thrill to get them all on vinyl, along with the other monster tracks. That the album itself had been recorded in December made it all the more fun to listen to it in the chilly, wet days at the end of the year.

I’m playing “Highway Star” right now, and when I close my eyes, I can imagine the RCA headphones surrounding my ears with the virtuoso sound of the band at its peak. I don’t have dust pops in the MP3 version, but that’s OK. I remember where they were on that album, so many Decembers ago. “Maybe I’m a Leo” comes up next, with its clever lyric and adagio blues. It’s got a lovely pair of solos from Messers. Blackmore and Lord, which are so welcome to hear instead of the solo-less instrumental tracks that seem to dominate the pop scene today. It’s a real pleasure to hear musicians play off each other and really jam, instead of turning in a photoshopped version of themselves, same every time.

As a live band, Deep Purple are almost always an amazing experience and only a few lineups had a reputation for bad concerts. The reason for Deep Purple’s excellence has been in their craft and talent. While this isn’t a live album, one gets a sense of their performance style as each track progresses. In the studio, they produced sounds that were absolutely reproducible on stage because they eschewed clever gimmicks. It’s just you, the band, their instruments, and the infamous Marshall stacks, all the time, every time. Live, DP were likely as not to play the same solos on their studio releases, so each track is unique and worth comparing one to another.

“Pictures of Home” is winter as a hard rock song, no question about it. Everything about it is cold, with slow violence lurking in the wings. You don’t get this sort of thing on so-called Classic Rock radio formats because the guys in charge of programming them won’t do deep cuts like they should. You’ve got to actually go out and get this stuff for yourself and discover the thrill on your own, or you’ll simply miss out.

And this is an album not to be missed! When I see some of the product that the music industry churns out these days – and it’s been “these days” for about two decades – I want to reach for a sample of what things were like when it wasn’t an industry. It had become a business by the 1970s, true enough. But it wasn’t yet an industry: there was craftsmanship and innovation. There was risk-taking and playing so good that the singer didn’t have to go for the shock value of profanity to interest a listener.

“Never Before” warms up the ears after the chill of “Pictures of Home”, in spite of it being about a love gone wrong. Those with the UK version and the remastered CD will then get the rock-solid honest blues of “When a Blind Man Cries,” a dear favorite of many DP fans.

Side two kicks off with “the chords that conquered America” – “Smoke on the Water.” When DP recorded it, they had no idea at all how big it would be. They almost didn’t record it because they had a policy against doing drug songs, and they thought the title would be construed as a euphemism for smoking dope. But they did it, and there it is, thundering and lumbering along, an anthem that no music industry project has been able to duplicate. It’s not a complicated piece, not by half. But it’s got that riff!

The next track up is “Lazy”, the climax of the album. I love turning up the volume on the Hammond Organ intro to where I can feel the room shake. It’s always an excitement for me. Even though I’ve heard the same solo played hundreds of times in the hundreds of times I’ve listened to this since 1981, I get excited every time. That’s the power of really good music. There are songs I like, but very few that I’m passionate about. “Lazy” is one of them.

The last track is just as awesome as the rest. Where “Highway Star” took us on a tear down the road, “Space Truckin'” launches us into space with a Saturn V-worthy rhythm. It’s a song that I wish was longer than it is on the studio album, and I get my wish granted in the band’s awesome live sets from the period, where it would go on for 20 minutes or longer.

Back in 1998, I said this about Machine Head: “This is the definitive Deep Purple album. It has been my personal favorite album of all time since I first heard it. If it has any flaws, they are the most perfect flaws ever recorded.” Over ten years later, I still feel that way. The music is epic, the photos inside the album cover were loads of fun, and the thrill of putting the needle in the groove of this platter immeasurable. I’ve got several vinyl versions of this, including a picture disc, and two different CDs, the standard Warner Brothers issue and the 25th anniversary remastered edition. Yes, I’m enthusiastic about it and probably not impartial about it, but it’s because the music in it won me over so triumphantly.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 10 because every single track on it works, and works perfectly. I don’t skip over parts. I don’t want to fast-forward any of it. I want to be there, from start to finish, and catch every note of it.