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Product: Audio CD
Title: Gaucho
Label: Mca
Artist: Steely Dan
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Fagan's genius shines

First of all, let me say "Babylon Sisters" is up there with "Deacon Blues" for me in contention as best Steely Dan tune. The groove is so simple, yet so DEEP! I like it more every time I hear it. For several years after I first heard it, I didn't even like it. Secondly, I would like to call your attention to Hugh McCracken's guitar work (I believe it's him) on "Hey Nineteen". It is extremely cool and inspired. If you aren't already in love with this music, please give it about 10 additional close listenings. There's much more going on here than meets the ear initially. Part of what makes Donald Fagen such a genius is that these compositions do not sound complicated at all. But try playing them! Listen to the horn arrangements! Listen to the grooves! They are sublime. Fagan is an absolute fanatic for rhythms. I read that on this album, and on others, the drums were originally recorded using human drummers, and then Fagan tweaked the rhythms obsessively using a special computer system until they were perfect. For those of you with DTS-compatible surround systems, I recommend you check out the DTS version of this album, which is really a crowd pleaser!

Product: Audio CD
Title: Dandy's Rule OK? (The Dandy Warhols)
Label: Dandy Warhols Music
Artist: Dandy Warhols
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Promising debut...only hints at how good they've become.

If you're not familiar with this band yet, it's probably best to start out with this, their debut CD. It's a good recording (and to be fair, some sounds on successive CD's were borrowed so cleanly that they might as well have been sampled from this one), and it's easy to see why Capitol snatched them up after this was originally released independently. They only bettered themselves as songwriters on their next CD ("The Dandy Warhols Come Down") on their way to putting out one of the best releases from anyone in the last 20 years ("Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia"). If you start out with either of the other two, you might feel that this CD is a disappointment in comparison. That's not entirely fair, but as Dennis Hopper said in "Waterworld", "Growth is progress". It's a good CD, worth owning, and it would be REALLY good for anyone else to have released...but it's not the Dandys' best effort.
Oh, yeah...there are a few good nudie shots of the band in the liner notes booklet, too.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Measure of a Man
Label: Rca
Artist: Clay Aiken
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5

This CD has very quickly become one of my favorites. I've heard a lot of music and a lot of singers in my lifetime and purely vocally speaking, this guy's one of the best I've ever heard.No, he may not be a gifted musician, playing five different instruments and producing or even writing his songs on the album. But simply put, this guy sings his heart out on each and every beautifully written song on this CD.
He was lucky enough to all but win American Idol, which put him in a position to enlist the best songwriters out there and he did them PROUD!!This is a rare CD in which I can listen to and enjoy each and every song without growing tired of or skipping a single one. My favorites are the title track, "Run to Me," and "I Survived You" but that's only a carefully chosen three out of 12 amazing songs.If you like hearing a talented singer singing catchy, pretty songs, buy this CD, you won't be disappointed.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Ascension
Label: Polygram Records
Artist: John Coltrane
Rating: 3/5
Customer rating - 3 out of 5
Challenging, to say the least

When I was 14 years old, I walked into the Sam Goody record store on 5th Avenue and 42nd St. in NYC and told the sales clerk that I wanted to purchase my first John Coltrane album and what would he recommend. Ascension is what he gave me. Needless to say, I found it unlistenable and it put me off Coltrane for several years.
When I was in high school and college, I used to bet people that they couldn't listen to this recording all the way through. I never lost.
In the late 1970's I worked in a casual restaurant. After closing time, we played this record real loud. It never failed to clear out the stragglers.
The one thing I remember from the liner notes was that the non-musicians in the studio were screaming during the recording of the pieces. The writer was surprised that they were able to keep the screaming off the vinyl. If and when you listen to this recording, you will understand why they were screaming: the music is *intense*.