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The Independent Culture

Citizen Steely Dan: 1972-1980 (MCA, CD/ tape). If they'd been no more than high-intellect cynics playing modernist rock'n'roll with a jazzman's sensibility, they'd have been Frank Zappa, twice over. Instead, some extra quality - call it humanity, call it compassion, call it conscience - enabled Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, two overstimulated East Coast college boys, to create a band whose best work has suffered less from the passing years than almost any rock from the Seventies. Very little on this four-CD box requires apology or allowance for period. Much of it sounds even better than you might have remembered. Incorporating digitally remastered versions of all seven albums plus the minimal bonus of one lost single ('FM', essential), one live piece ('Bodhisattva', interesting) and one demo ('Everyone's Gone to the Movies', superfluous), this is less of a collectors item than a reasonably priced replacement for distressed vinyl. Those who've looked after the originals can save their pounds 40, though. The excellence of Roger Nichols' studio engineering minimises the benefits of remastering, but the fancy booklet omits all sorts of useful information included on the LP sleeves; a curmudgeon like me, too, would describe the resequencing of the first side of Aja to fit the new format as just plain vandalism. All that apart, it provides a clear view of the conceptual brilliance they brought to bear on each separate project. And as a body of work, it virtually justifies an era. Richard Williams

Justin Warfield: My Field Trip to Planet 9 (Qwest/Reprise, CD/LP/tape). The hip-hop galaxy has always been full of disparate planets, and Warfield, a 19-year-old from Los Angeles, has just created another. It's a product of the Californian interface between rap, grunge and hippiedom: all surreal rhymes, acid-rock samples and cosmic sentiments. 'Dip Dip Divin' is a deceptively aggressive opener; soon you're into songs like 'Guavafish Centipede (Aquatic Meditations)', and the raps are floating between clouds of Mexican horns and psychedelic effects - defying the minimalist conventions of current hardcore rap. Warfield mutters about 'tripping on acid and kicking rhymes', name-checks H G Wells, and alternately charms and bewilders. But how will he avoid the novelty tag on the follow-up? Andy Beckett



Little Texas: Peaceful Easy Feeling (on Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, Giant, CD/tape). Skirling Telecasters, stonewashed harmonies, the passing chord of the decade: no need to feel bad about singing along to this. RW

Big John Patton: Blue Planet Man (Paddle Wheel, CD). Excellent new album from the lost legend of the B-3 Hammond organ, with John Zorn on alto sax. Phil Johnson

Lennie Niehaus: Big Fran's Baby (on A Perfect World, Reprise, CD/tape). Written by Clint Eastwood, danced to by Kevin Costner: a lovely country waltz. Tim de Lisle