Before we get to the review today, we'd just like to express our condolences to the family and friends of Merl Reagle. I had the pleasure of seeing his stand-up comedy act at the ACPT this year, and, of course, of solving one of his puzzles during the tournament. His unexpected death is a great blow not only to those who knew him, but to crossword fans and wordsmiths everywhere. Will Shortz's piece on the man is here.
Today's puzzle by Mr. Fagliano, appropriately but coincidentally, I'm pretty sure, features the wordplay of anagrams as a theme. Popular bands and artists are anagrammed into musically-themed, punny fill. For example, 23A: Alternative band that sounds like every other alternative band? (INDIECLONE) is an anagram of CELINEDION. AEROSMITH is transformed, amusingly, into HIMAESTRO (66A: Greeting to a conductor?). And it's nice that CAROLEKING would actually fall under the category of GENIALROCK (87A: Friendly music genre?). Not bad.
My favorite non-theme clue/answer today is 19A: Spot check? (LEASH). Excellent. 27A: Check time (PAYDAY), 15A: Nothing, slangily (JACK), and 62A: Good deal (LOT) (both missing the preceding "a") were also good. And I liked "Et tu?" being used as a clue instead of fill for a change!
There's the usual amount of "glue" - ESA, BAA, EWE, OSTE, ORO, etc. - but I think it's kept under control. It's not exactly sparkly, but it's decent enough.