Alan Vega

Saturn Strip/Just a Million Dreams

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The Wounded Bird label can be credited with keeping a number of beloved records in print, even if the profit potential in almost every case has been way south of high -- some of Patrice Rushen's best '70s and early-'80s albums, Jan Hammer's underrated Melodies (no, really) and Gang of Four's Solid Gold and Hard (sold as a two-fer), as examples. 1983's Saturn Strip and 1985's Just a Million Dreams -- Alan Vega's two mainstream-seeking records for Elektra -- are combined here. They'll never get as much attention as the Suicide records, but they're both significant parts of Vega's career. Saturn Strip, produced by Ric Ocasek, is Vega's best solo album; Just a Million Dreams, produced in part by Ocasek but mostly by Chris Lord-Alge, is Vega's worst solo album. Despite being a change of pace for Vega at the time, he's hardly out of character on Saturn Strip, working with traditionally structured songs that can't be labeled "arty." And in lead song "Saturn Strip," you might have Al Jourgensen's greatest contribution to music -- some exceptional keyboard work that places it perfectly between synth punk and synth pop. On Just a Million Dreams, Lord-Alge drowns every song in the kind of weak drum programming and blaring midrange that you can hear in nearly every bad mainstream movie soundtrack from the same time (we're talking Bonnie Tyler/Footloose, maybe even Frank Stallone).

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