Kind of a visual rebus today. I was definitely confused when I had SAAA____ at the beginning of 17A: Charles Lamb collection first published in 1823 (SAAAOFELIA). I was pretty sure of the As but had no idea what it was getting at. I actually worked my way around much of the puzzle, putting in parts I could get, without understanding the theme. It was when I worked my way back to the NE and had J____NNN at 25A: Track star known as the Buckeye Bullet (JESSEONNN) that I finally figured it out. Didn't know he was from Ohio, but here's visual proof:
The execution of the theme is top-notch. Each time, it's a two syllable word where the first syllable is represented by a single letter pronounced as it would be in the alphabet, followed by three letters making up the second syllable. I suppose I like the answers where the first letter is not actually the first letter of the word, as in XIIITAX (nice bit of non-Roman numeral there) or ATTTMUSIC, rather than PUBLICIVVV. Although Prince clearly is more than just an 80s figure, given his 22 albums released from 1990 onwards.
I entered 1A: Almost a controlling interest (HALF) right off the bat, and then second guessed myself for a bit. The word itself is a nice piece of Anglo-Saxon, and is visually interesting, and the clue is unusual, so I'll give it a B+.
I liked todays clue for IONS (They're never free of charge) better than yesterday's (What's a bit of a shock to a chemist?). And wasn't 23A: New school? (ROE) a lovely way to perk up a well-used 3-letter answer? 40A: Lump in the throat (TONSIL) got me with its direct rather than metaphoric definition. Still, I think the prize goes to 63A: Oxford bottom (ARSE). That's brilliant.
Beyond that, there's also the very nice pair of 9-letter answers in the NE and SW corners. I had LEMONzest initially. SOURNOTES are indeed "Bad things to hit", which is great. And there's even 31D: Whipper snapper? (LIONTAMER). FRISBEE! (Flying saucer). Nice.
There's some stuff in here I don't like (SLO, RAU, MOES - just because it's always in the puzzle with this type of clue nowadays), but I'll overlook that for the general enjoyment I got.