1997 Records To Die For
Gee, now that one made me think. In fact, the more I pondered, the closer these once-amusing examples came to my own life and its lamprey-like obsessions. When I moved to Santa Fe, for example, I had to carry not one, but two boxes of CDs on the plane---because I didn't trust the movers. And then there's memories of obsessions past---me at age 13 trading half my collection for an original MC5 Kick Out the Jams album, or the object of my pubescent puppy love who drew a line in the sand: Turn off Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or else. Guess which one I chose.
Final proof that this was serious business came from perusing the Sunday New York Times and other paragons of fine writing and after-the-fact culture, where the expression "to die for" has become a favored form of so-mannered-it's-hip slang---as in, "Oh, their toasted polenta with gorgonzola sauce is to die for."
Sobered by the realization that while I wouldn't die for a disc, I might sustain a not-too-disfiguring wound for an original 78 of Robert Johnson's "Hellhound On My Trail," I now, in the proper spirit of obsessive music geekiness, welcome you to the 1997 edition of Stereophile's "Records To Die For." I want to thank all the writers who racked their brains to come up with two records they would wrestle the grim reaper for. Choosing just two can be difficult, so I urged everyone to shoot from the hip, write off the top of the head, and most of all, have fun. Hopefully, you'll feel the same way reading. ---Robert Baird