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The fine print: “Def American Recordings is opposed to censorship. Our manufacturer and distributor, however, do not condone or endorse the content of this recording, which they find violent, sexist, racist and indecent.”

Geto Boys S/T album print ad, October 1990.

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Masters of Reality: Masters of Reality (1989)

I got this LP on the strength of a 5K review in the pages of Kerrang! Magazine (where it was later voted the fifth best LP of 1989), but I didn’t actually “get it” until years later – if you catch my drift?

What I’m trying to say is that my then-teenaged ears and limited musical acumen simply couldn’t yet account for the incredible breadth of sonic expression displayed across the Masters of Reality’s eponymous debut.

Sure, I got some of the heavy rock I was expecting from “Candy Song” (what a riff!), the bluesy “Gettin’ High,” the wah-wah-happy “The Blue Garden,” the dirgey Zeppelin of “Sleep Walkin’,” and the staccato-filled “Theme for the Scientist of the Invisible / Domino“ combo.

But even the colossal “Kill the King” had that gorgeous classical intro to throw me off, and I was wholly unprepared for the country western noir flavors of “John Brown,” “Magical Spell” and “The Eyes of Texas,” never mind the straight-faced country blues of “Lookin’ to Get Rite,” nor the unsettling carny story of “Doraldina’s Prophecies.”

Even now, spinning these songs yet again, I feel I’m hearing brilliant bits I missed the first, second, and thirtieth times I spun this, which says it all about this band’s incredible creative powers.

Note: This reissue also boasts a second LP with the legendary How High the Moon: Live at the Viper Room performance, which, believe me, is absolutely astounding in its own right.

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Russell Simmons X Rick Rubin On the Birth of Def Jam

Trouble: Trouble (1990)

When this 25-year-old album was still young and so was I and dwelling in Chicago circa 1994, I used to wonder if a ruined mausoleum in the cemetery near the corner of Irving Park Road and North Clark Street was the location of this album’s cover photo.

It don’t think it really was but the fantasy took me away, much like all of this stunning fourth LP from the Chicago doom titans – one of the style’s very best, if you ask me, thanks to ter-RIFF-ic classics like “At the End of My Daze,” “Psychotic Reaction,” “The Misery Shows (Act II)” and “R.I.P.

Indeed, I later waxed fanatic about Trouble’s Rick Rubin-produced magnum opus (even the band’s guitar TONE is a historical benchmark) in a review for the All-Music Guide review, so I won’t bother repeating my ravings here.

However, I will ask you to pay close attention to the album’s glorious final cut, “All is Forgiven,” which, after two minutes of energetic head-banging, suddenly unfurls one of the greatest doom riffs ever written (only fully revealed to me like a belated epiphany at a 2007 Trouble reunion gig) for the guitar team of Bruce Franklin Rick Wartell to adorn with heavenly melodies and mournful harmonies, like creeping vines over an old tombstone.

Masterful!