Smiley Winters

Smiley, Etc.

1969

Free Jazz

blue starblue starblue starblue starblue half star

On this two-record set, each disc provides a different side of the versatile Smiley Winters. The first three cuts -- the entirety of disc one -- are all free jazz barnburners with explosive playing by all. Fans of jazz releases on the ESP or BYG labels should know what to expect here: lots of free blowing with some very intense moments. Among other things, four extra drummers and Donald Rafael Garrett's yelping vocals on the title track make the first disc an exhausting but highly rewarding experience.

- Brandon Burke

Pet Shop Boys

Please

March 24, 1986

Alternative Dance

blue starblue starblue starblue starempty star

PSB knocked it right out of the park with their first album, which remains one of their best. While their music and especially their live shows would only become more elaborate over the years, their songwriting was already rock solid from the beginning, and the sequencing forms a loose conceptual arc about a young couple moving to a new city. The Further Listening edition of the album is just as worthwhile, containing essential B-sides like "A Man Could Get Arrested" and "Paninaro," and an extended re-recording of "Suburbia" which vastly improves on the demo-like album version.

- Paul Simpson