Kylie: Fever

I have to confess that Kylie's last single, "Can't get you out of head" is just a smidgen catchy. I keep finding myself humming the damn thing, and short of whacking myself on the head with a large mallet, I can't think of anyway other way of dislodging it. Anyway, the sassy little Australian midget seems to be doing quite nicely in the record sales department at the moment, so I thought I would pander to those Kylie fans out there and do my best to write a fair an unbiased review of "Fever". The opening track "more more more" has a great solid dance beat and the only really annoying part of the song is the sound effect that sounds exactly like the ring tone of my mobile. Infact the first time I heard it, I started frantically fumbling around in my coat pocket for my phone. My daughter is particularly keen on "Can't get you out of my head" and she loves dancing around the lounge, bouncing off the walls singing along to it, however, as she's only 5, she is much closer to the target audience than me. The album continues all the way through in the same jolly vein. "Dancefloor" is yet another example of this uncomplicated but entrancing beat and its title is a very unsubtle suggestion of where it is best suited. I don't want to be too unkind to this album because knocking it would be like having a go at cup-a-soup, i.e. its fine in its right place, however I'm afraid the right place is not on my stereo.

Geldof: Sex, Age and Death

Since the demise of the Rats, Sir Bob has probably been better known for his fund raising activities and his private life. He's had a few mediocre solo albums but has been fairly quite of late. Now he's comeback with some new material, he's dropped the "Bob" and wheeled in the ex rats bassist and co-writer, Pete Briquette, and the result is a huge roller coaster of an album. Anyone familiar with Geldof's lyrics will find his metaphors instantly recognisable and his vocal style remains unchanged from his early boomtown rats days. The album kicks off with "One For Me" where a slapping acoustic guitar and gentle vocals introduce us to a plucking Mark Knopfler styled guitar and some stolen Hendrix lyrics before rolling into a harmonious sing-a-long chorus. "Mudslide" too starts of tamely and promises to be fairly uneventful until a blistering guitar lick takes us into another powerful chorus. "Mind in Pocket" sounds a bit like a Death In Vegas song at first before the grungy guitar kicks in as Geldof bleats out some great lines like "There's people on the streets, dancing to their car alarms". "Scream in Vain" sounds up to date with its echoing drums and a pulsating bass, towards the end of the song it changes tempo and for some unexplained reason makes me conjure up images of Frank Skinner dancing in his underpants. Moving swiftly along, Geldof's potty mouth lyrics to "Inside Your Head" afford the album a parental warning sticker on the front of the album. Fortunately this has been placed in the bottom left hand corner so as not to obscure the lovely album cover. I don't suppose it will be everyone's cup of tea but in my humble opinion, this is Geldof's best work since 1979's "The Fine Art of Surfacing".


Mick has taken some valuable time off from running his local convenience store on the corner of Stella Street to commit a few sonic thoughts to tape, and its been a worthwhile activity. The new album contains 12 new Jagger penned pieces and features some special guest appearances. "God Gave me Everything" features significant offerings from Lenny Kravitz. Lenny plays guitar, bass, drums and even tambourine on this high speed three and a half minutes of classic rock. "Gun" featuring a dazzling guitar contribution courtesy of Pete Townsend seems like quite a departure from the usual Stones stuff with its boppy backbeat and synthesisers, but it really comes into its own when Mr Townsend attempts to drown everyone else out. Mick has made good use of his over active loins by getting two of his daughters to provide the backing vocals to "Brand New Set of Wheels", the slower tempo and idiosyncratic voice on this track make it sound more like the typical Stones Ballard. Although I'm a bit of a fan of Keith, Ronnie and Charlie I actually preferred this album to the last Stones studio release.

Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra & Friends: Small World, Big Band

This is not so much a Jools Holland album featuring a wide array of special guests as a various artists album that just happens to have Jools playing some great keyboards on each track. I especially like the photographs on the inside cover; they feature a series of snapshots of Jools with his arm around, or stood next to, each of his guest artists. It looks rather like the scrapbook of a fortunate tourist who bumped into a few celebrities on his travels. It's quite a nifty little marketing trick too. As the album features tracks by many big name artists like Sting, Paul Weller, Van Morrison, Mick Hucknall and Eric Clapton to name but a few, the fans of these artists are just going to have to add this album to their bulging collections too. The 22 track CD makes it jolly good value but restricts me to selecting a few choice contributors. "Horse to Water" written and performed by George Harrison has that big band feel and its prominent brass and strong backing vocals would allow it sound quite at home on the soundtrack to the Blues Brothers. "The Hand that Changed It's Mind" written by Holland and Malcolm John Rebennack (A.K.A. Dr John) has the traditional New Orleans Jazz style associated with Dr. John and features his distinctive deep-south voodoo vocals. "I put a Spell on You" featuring Mica Paris and David Gilmour is great reworking of this classic little ditty and possibly my favourite track on the album. It starts with a classical orchestral arrangement providing the backing to some blues piano and the diva herself in full swing. It soon develops to feature even more corking blues guitar, piano and vocals. I imagine it would be pretty impressive to hear some of this material live, but if you can't get tickets to the current tour, this recording is the next best thing

PJ Harvey: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea

In addition to writing, performing and producing a mercury prize nominated album, Polly Jean Harvey has acted in a number of films, exhibited sculptures in art galleries and had her poetry published. "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" is Polly’s 6th Album since her 1992 debut "Dry" and her third album to be nominated for the mercury music prize. The album makes an explosive start with "Big Exit"; the high-energy guitars and piercing vocals captivate the listener from the start. "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore" is perhaps the most abrasive track and more akin with her earlier work. Previous albums have included duets with the likes of Nick Cave, Bjork and Tricky. On "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" Polly includes a mesmeric duet with Thom Yorke who’s style and emotion fit perfectly with the overall feel of the album. Other standout tracks include "Good Fortune", "A Place Called Home" and "We Float". An unexpected sonic treat and highly recommended.

Goldfrapp: Felt Mountain

Alison Goldfrapp has previously worked with Tricky and Orbital before joining forces with Will Gregory in order to produce this debut album. The album was actually released at the end of last year, but too late for the 2000 awards. The snow covered forest on the inside cover of the album sleeve suggests the cold and crisp landscapes that can be easily conjured up in the mind whilst listening to the gentle and sometimes haunting music. The opening track "Lovely Head" will be recognisable to many since being used to advertise one2one. The album contains string and brass arrangements that could well have come from an early James Bond Soundtrack along with Portishead style scratches and samples. More suited to a sophisticated dinner party than a rowdy knees-up.

Super Furry Animals: Rings Around the World

"Rings Around the World" is the fifth studio release from this Welsh band, and contains a mixture of material. Although most tracks are quite extensively orchestrated, they vary from acoustic tunes to much heavier stuff, they also seems to have taken influences from different periods, some parts sound very modern and others have shades of the 60’s. Despite this variation the overall feel of the album is very "Pop". The title track is prime example of this bizarre concoction. Its starts with a rolling guitar and bass backdrop with heavy reverb making it sound a bit like Hawkwind, then the jolly Beach Boys style vocal kicks in. "(A) Touch Sensitive" is a more modern sounding piece with oscillating bass and violins giving it more of a Moby feel it. The first half of "No Symphony" sounds like a fairly normal acoustic track before going off at a complete tangent. I’m all for a bit of musical meandering, but this one seems to loose the plot a little. The album is being released on CD and DVD formats at the same time and is certainly worth investigating.

Radiohead: Amnesiac

Much of "Amnesiac" was already in place when last years "Kid-A" was released. At the time, "Amnesiac" was being promoted as more mainstream rock and less experimental than "Kid-A". After my first listen to "Amnesiac" I found it very hard to agree with this premise, but after several more listens it seems to have lost much of its weirdness, with the exception of "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors" which I still can’t claim to understand. In addition to the excellent "Pyramid Song" and "Knives Out" the album contains the beautiful "You and Whose Army?" which is more than capable of provoking the emotional response experienced by many on "OK-Computer". "I Might Be Wrong" is an inspired toe tapping four and half minutes of guitar riffs and "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" is far catchier than its title suggests. Radiohead are still pushing the frontiers of rock but are now being courteous enough to allow the fans to catch up rather than leaving them scratching their heads with a curios expression on their face.

Turin Brakes: The Optimist LP

Another duo. Another debut. Another excellent album. Olly Knight and Gale Paridjanian from Balham, South London, met at primary school and have been writing and playing music together ever since. "The Optimist LP" is an uplifting, soft and very mature album of instantly palatable acoustic songs. The general formula used is a fervent acoustic rhythm with obvious chord changes overlaid with clear and precise lead or slide guitar and low punctuated bass notes. "Underdog (save me)" is a very upbeat example of this formula and "Emergency 72", the next single planned to be released on October 15th starts off slowly but builds up into a very similar rhythm before winding back down. An impressive debut, and if every thing goes to plan, should launch an exciting career. Any fans of Coldplay and Travis amongst us should not be pessimistic about buying this LP.

Basement Jaxx: Rooty

This London two piece certainly seem to have a high profile in the dance music scene after the success of their first album, "Remedy". Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe are eager to build on the success of their first record by making an album that appeals to both the mainstream dance clubs and the more diverse underground. The album is packed full with as many sound effects as they could cram in. It seems that because they have the technology available to produce whizzing, buzzing and beeping effects they had to stuff them all in somewhere. Although it is a very jolly album, the majority of the tracks are fairly uninspiring and don’t appear to have much depth. The opening track, "Romeo" featuring Kele Le Roc, is a good example of this lacklustre but happy format. However there are a couple of better tracks to be found. "Get Me Off" has a good solid dance beat and sexually provocative lyrics that are sure to go down well in the clubs. The highlight of the album for me was "Do Your Thing" which successfully mixes dance and jazz with its trumpets and synthesisers working in perfect harmony with each other. Unfortunately these good tracks are too few and far between and I’m unconvinced that this represents the best of what’s available in the dance genre.

Zero 7: SImple Things

Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker from North London both opted to study sound engineering and served their apprenticeships at RAK studios. A college friend of theirs was producing Radiohead’s "OK Computer" and gave them the opportunity to remix "Climbing up the Walls", which proved popular on Radio 1. Since then there’s not been much on offer other than a very hard to find EP and a few more remixes. "Simple Things" is their debut album and has allowed them to be recognised as much more than an English version of Air. The album should receive wide appeal with its subtle mix of soul, jazz, and funk, chill out instrumentals and heavily orchestrated themes. It’s hard to pick the standout tracks from a whole album of gems but perhaps the instrumental "Red Dust" with its indolent acoustic introduction leading us into an assortment of melodic synthesisers and strings deserves some special mention. An album wholly worthy of it nomination, and perhaps more.

R.E.M.: Reveal

We are told that the critics are united in their acclaim for this "return to form" album. Let us analyse this "return to form" by imagining Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills not as a big rich rock band, but as a share owned company. Let us assume that shares prices in REM are directly comparable to the quality of their output since releasing their first album (or floating on the stock exchange, if we are to continue to indulge my analogy). By examining the share price over the last 15 years we can clearly see a gradual rise in value starting in the mid 80's. We then observe a substantial increase in stock value in 1991 coinciding with the release of "Out Of Time". We can then see a further rise in 1993 (Automatic for the People). With the benefit of hindsight we can now see that this would have been the time to sell, as share prices were at their highest peak. We then experience a slight dip in 1994 (Monster), and a gradual decline in the latter half of the nineties after Bill Berry's retirement. By looking at the up-to date graph we can indeed see that the share prices have rallied considerably at the end of the second quarter of 2001. It is still however somewhat shy of the heady early 90's price. Can we predict that this upturn in the market will allow continued sustained growth into the next financial year and beyond? Well, frankly, no, we can predict that the current up turn in their market price is likely to be a temporary one by comparing it with similar trends derived from anlyses of U2 Ltd. and who have since gone into liquidation. So far all I have managed to establish is that it's pretty good, but not as good as their peak. This leaves me very little room left to articulate on the music itself and more to the point, what it actually sounds like. Well that can be done quite easily, it sounds exactly like REM, and if you don't know what that sounds like by now then its probably too late to start worrying about it.

Cosmic Rough Riders: Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine

I was rummaging through the latest releases in my local record shop a few weeks ago when I picked up a copy of this album out of curiosity. My initial impression was that it was a re-release of an old album from a little known peace loving West Coast band from '67. The album artwork and title suggested references to the summer of love and that late 60's psychedelic sound. The album was actually released at the end of last year but is only now building up momentum. A single release of the excellent "Revolution (In the Summer Time?)" on 23rd July is expected to help increase album sales further. I may have been some way off with the year but my West Coast guess was sort of right as they actually come from Glasgow. The opening two tracks; "Brothers Gather Round" and "The Gun Isn't Loaded" sound like Harrison inspired Beatles tracks. The sixth track, "Revolution (In the Summer Time?)" is a masterpiece, a perfect 60's time machine with lyrics like "We can pray for the sun, Let it shine on everyone, Sunshine brings love". This theme and style continues throughout the album and "Melanie", which was one of the bands early singles, is yet another cheery summery song with layered up-beat harmonies like the Beach Boys or the Mama's and the Papa's. All in all it's a perfect summer album. If you are going to Glasgow, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

Gorillaz: Gorillaz

Designer bands have been with us for a long time. From the "The Monkees" right up to "Hearsay" producers and musical entrepreneurs alike have been constructing acts with a greater emphasis on commercial success than musical merit. Gorillaz is the most original concept yet for a designer band. The two brains behind Gorillaz are Blur's Damon Albarn and the artist responsible for giving us "Tank Girl", Jamie Hewlett. No prizes for guessing who designs the characters and animation and who's in charge of the music. A great effort has been made to detach the real musicians from the music and allow the audience to concentrate on the animated characters designed to front the band. The four characters: 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russell have been given personalities and relationships that are further explored within the bands videos and website. By hiding the real musicians Albarn has created a greater sense of freedom which gives Gorillaz the potential to move in a number of directions, explore new territory, and attract younger fans without detracting or devaluing any solo projects or indeed Blur. However, on some tracks Albarn has not made full use of this freedom, "5/4 five four" and "Dunk", good though they are, should definitely have been filed in the bucket of songs labeled Blur rather than Gorillaz. The third track of the album, "Tomorrow Comes Today" begins to set a trend that is followed for the majority of the work. We are introduced to a slower more jazzy sound, with a deep lazy bass overlaid with harmonica and subtle orchestral arrangements. "Clint Eastwood" is the instantly recognizable hit from the album and is consistent with the musical style of much of the remainder of the album. The modern scratchy jazz sound reaches its height on "Latin Simone" as a bizarre Spanish sounding vocal serenades over a mixture of trumpets, piano and heavy bass. The album concludes with a spooky lost voice wondering aimlessly as the raw guitars gradually pump up and drown the voice in a sea of noise, it then goes rather quite until the hidden remixed "Clint Eastwood" makes a reprise at a greatly increased pace. For the multimedia generation the CD also includes some other goodies such as screen savers, wallpapers and some animations that might be OK on a machine more powerful than an ImagoQA 166MHz laptop.

Stereophonics: Just Enough Education to Perform

Following on from the trouble Ann Robinson has recently found herself in after making derogatory comments about the Welsh, I shall have to tread very carefully knowing that the Stereophonics fellow countrymen walk among us in the hallowed ImagoQA halls. Cwmaman most famous sons, Stuart Cable, Kelly Jones and Richard Jones (no relation) took the name "Stereophonics" from the front of the old sideboard styled gramophone in Cable’s grandmothers’ house. The success of their second long player, "Performance and Cocktails", ensured that this third installment had no problem entering the top of the UK charts, toppling Hearsay’s "Popstars". Kelly Jones has taken a minor slating from the popular musical press for the quality of his lyrics. Although Jones is hardly in line for the next poet Loriet, this does seem a trifle unfair, after all the competition aren’t doing any better, and the standards set by the likes of Dylan and Cohen are rarely reached in these enlightened times. Perhaps a more important thing to look at is the quality of the music, and that sounds pretty good to me. The opening track, "Vegas Two Times", picks up were "Performance and Cocktails" left off with Kelly Jones’ distinctive throaty vocals and brusque guitar. "Mr. Writer" has a bubbling reverbing backdrop on which the trio overlay some interesting harmonic vocals, bluesey piano and pounding acoustic guitar. The Steely Guitar and Harmonica on "Rooftop", the final track provides a solid end to a wholly acceptable album. They do however, never seem to quite reach the pace and energy of "The Bartender and the Thief". The more optimistic of those watching their careers with interest will feel that "Just Enough Education to Perform" falls slightly short of their higher aspirations, still the majority of fans should have no cause to be disappointed.

Dido: No Angel

By providing the musical backdrop to Eminem’s "Stan", Mr. Mathers has attached his proverbial jump leads directly to the career starter motor of Miss Dido Armstrong. Although the Islington singer/songwriter would finally make her name on Eminem’s "Stan", her first break into the American market was as a result of singing the theme tune to the American Drama series "Roswell High". On the back of all this she has seen some impressive sales of her album "No Angel". My first listen to the album had completed floated over me. I inserted the disc into the CD tray and sat down quietly to listen to my most recent purchase. By the time it had reached the second track my mind was elsewhere, I had reached the seventh bobo of spiritual enlightenment and I was drifting towards a somewhat higher astral plain. Then I realised that the record had finished without me really listening to it. I approached my second listen some time later with a level of enthusiasm usually reserved for that monthly task of scraping the crud from the roller inside my mouse. A few weeks later and no "No Angel", has spent quite a long time in my CD Player, like all good records, its starting to grow on me. As usual a quick round-up of few key tracks follows; "Don’t Think Of Me" sound like a strong single contender to me and the well orchestrated string section builds up into a powerful Robbie Williams style chorus. "My Lover’s Gone" is very pretty, haunting number that deserves a mention, but unfortunately "All You Want" is more disappointing. Her habitual need to change pitch and tone in the middle of words gets a tad annoying after a while. Although I hold the Corrs and the Cranberries responsible for making this high pitched wobble fashionable, Miss Armstrong should not be excused. My copy of the album concludes with an additional bonus track, "Take My Hand", which takes me back to a 1970’s discotheque, with it’s pounding hi-hat and prominent Boney M style strings. Despite the album title she seems a lot more Angelic than a lot of her contemporaries.

Papa Roach: Infest

The current nü -metal wave being surfed by the likes of Limp Bizkit and Blink 182 has yet crash onto the beach and ebb away into obscurity. An entourage of young hopefuls have therefore greased up their boards and paddled out to sea. Although most are destined for "Wipe Out", a quartet of Californian nü-metallers fronted by Coby Dick are currently looking pretty stable on the crest of this new wave thanks to their hit single "Last Resort". The album, Infest, is packed full of solid riffs and angst. The lyrics are crammed with depressing images of mutilation and self hate which is what the current generation of moody American teenagers seem to want to hear. Dick’s aggressive and often gruff vocal style switches between Fred Durst style rapping and more traditional metallic high pitched screaming. The album maintains a consistent musical standard throughout and is generally a much better bet than Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate St*rfish". "Last Resort" starts off with the cheery opening "Cut my life into pieces, this is my last resort" before the crunching guitars kick in, this is followed with "Broken Home", which is a typical example of lyrics aimed at the "No one understands me" youth culture. "Dead Cell" mixes spliced guitar riffs and rapping versus with a fast and furious chorus, and the finale, "Thrown Away", consists of the standard 4 minutes of thrashing followed a surprise change of pace to wind the album down. Not bad from a lead singer who admitted to excessive bedwetting during his teen years.

Roger Waters: In The Flesh

The title of the new double live album is taken from the opening track of what is probably Roger Waters’ best-known work, "The Wall". Unfortunately, we have been offered relatively slim pickings from Mr. Waters in recent years, 1992’s Amused to Death was the last new piece, and "In the Flesh" contains only one previously unreleased song, "Each Small Candle". All songs are taken from his tour of North America and Canada in 2000 and consist of a good mixture of Solo work and Pink Floyd classics. It makes a refreshing change to hear some of the old Floyd songs that seem to have been shunned by Dave Gilmour & co on all of their recent tours. The version of "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" originally from the second Floyd Album, "A Saucerful of Secrets", gets a serious make-over and sounds as fresh today as it did back in 1968. Other Floydian rarities include "Southampton Dock", "Dogs" and "Get your filthy hands of my Desert". Of course he includes many of the old favorites from "Wish you were here" and "The Dark Side of the Moon" too. The closing track " Each Small Candle" promised to be part of a whole new piece of work that is yet to emerge. There is however a fairly interesting story behind the first verse of the new song, it was written by a South American who'd been a victim of torture. An Italian journalist, active in the initiative against torture in Northern Italy, had given Waters the short poem years ago. The poem lay in a drawer in Waters' studio until, during the crisis in Kosovo, he read a piece in The Times describing a Serbian soldier who saw an Albanian woman lying in a burned-out building. The soldier left his platoon to give aid to the woman, then rejoined his men and marched off. The image inspired Waters to set the short poem, "Each Small Candle," to music and pen additional lyrics. All of Waters’ post Floyd work seems far superior to what Pink Floyd have come up without him. Waters has managed to fill the gaping chasm left by Dave Gilmour with such accomplished musicians as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Snowy White. How different may things have been if Waters had won the court battle for the right to trade under the name of "Pink Floyd". I guess we will never know. Still, I have deducted 1 point for not including any European venues in his last tour.

JJ72: JJ72

Another debut album, this time, from a young three-piece from Dublin. JJ72 seem to have carved themselves out a sound that sits somewhere between the Manic’s, Joy Division and Suede’s early Bernard Butler days with rather edgy guitars and high pitched vocals. There is something about this album that gave me a strange feeling of Deja vu. Although the album consists of new material, there is a weird familiarity about it that I can’t quite put a finger on. One track inparticular that generates these feelings is "Way Down South". It has crisp well defined drums, guitar and bass and an intriguing falsetto which could have easily convinced me that it was a Siouxsie and the Banshees track from 1979 that I had never heard before. "Undercover Angel", the second track has an excellent chorus and a riff that can stick in your head all day if you listen to it on the way to work. The latest single, "Snow", is another fine track worth listening out for. It’s no wonder that JJ72 have been nominated for the best newcomer in this years Q Awards. The band seem to be incorporating all of the best Rock n’ Roll cliches, The plain black album cover, and more recently they cut short their set at London’s Astoria and proceeded to smash up everything, including drums, percussion, bass and amplifiers. All they need to do now is have their drummer killed in a bizarre gardening accident and they can claim to be true rock stars.

Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP

I have always been a firm believer that rap is actually spelt with a silent "C", so I was little reluctant to get a copy of the Marshall Mathers LP. However, he does seem to have a rather high profile at the moment so I decided to bow to popular demand and give it a go. An interesting fact to start off with for those not familiar with Eminem, his name is actually derived from the initials of his real name, Marshall Mathers, (M&M), and is nothing to do with his love of sugar coated chocolate peanuts. The lyrical value of most rap records I have heard in the past cause me to believe that the average rapper must have hit an unfeasibly large amount of branches when falling from the top of the stupid tree. Eminem is however on a slightly higher plain. When he is not rapping about oral pleasure (by far his favourite subject) he devotes the remainder of his time to rapping about his contemporaries, his hatred of boy bands and Britney Spears and although hardly profound, it is quite listenable, and rather amusing at times. The album starts with a public service announcement insulting the listener for buying the record. He then gets underway with "Kill You", which boils down to "Don’t mess with Shady, or He’ll Kill", Even if he was serious, I’m not scared. Perhaps the most notable track on the album is "Stan". The story of a mentally deranged fan, Stan, is told in the form of a number of letters. The first letters from Stan to Eminem tell of Stan’s infatuation with Eminem, and his disappointment that Eminem has not responded to any of his letters. The last letter from Stan, in the form of a cassette made in his car, with his girlfriend gagged in the trunk just before they drove off a bridge, is more disturbing. The final letter, Eminem’s response, although too late, contains a rather sensible reply that seems to have been written by Claire Raynor rather than the real Slim Shady. "Criminal" contains minimal music content, a basic drum beat, a simple bass line and uncomplicated keyboards, but is nonetheless a damn good song with interesting lyrics based on the premise that every time he writes a rhyme, some people think it’s a crime. The closing track, "The Kids", appears to have been inspired by Stan, Kyle, Kenny, Cartman and Mr. Mackey and tells the important morale message that "Drugs are bad, M’Kay". Whilst getting over this important message the song also caused me to produce a few rye smiles, as well as giving me a very good description of a G-String. Maybe it’s hard for modern pop stars to appear to be hard and be original. There’s nothing new about throwing TV’s out of hotel windows or smashing and burning your equipment, even biting the heads of chickens is old hat, so what can the new breed do to attempt to shock us. The latest craze seems to just be peppering the offensive lyrics with the rudest profanities they can think off. In my opinion it doesn’t shock, it just makes it awkward to play the album when the kids are around. The humour and timing in the Eminem’s lyrics is perhaps what sets him apart from many of the other rappers around at the moment. All though the lyrics are designed to shock the music itself is very tame compared to what previous generations have come up with, so Eminem may think he’s hard, but I reckon Ozzy could have him, no problem.

Alabama 3: La Peste

La-Peste is one of those albums that grabs you by goolies on the very first track, by the second track a firm grasp has been established and is not relinquished until the dire cover of Don Henley and Glen Frey’s "Hotel California" three quarters of the way through the album. For those of you not familiar with Alabama 3 they look and sound like a renegade posse of AWOL cowboys with a rapidly dwindling stash. I was therefore most surprised to discover that they actually hail from Brixton, London. The style of music is quite hard to categorize but the best description I have heard is "Acid Country". The album opens with the single "Too Sick To Pray" which starts with a weird electronic sound effect followed by a lone steel guitar before slowly building up to a towering wall of bass, drums and throaty Nick Cave/Iggy pop style vocals. Other notable tracks include "Walking in my sleep" which starts of with sermon by a preacher from the Deep South before moving into a slow dance beat and some vocal styles and lyrics that must have be inspired by Dr John. "Cocaine (killed my Community)" has a prominent drum loop and keyboards with a distinct "Talking Heads" feel to it. For those of you following the US TV Drama, "The Soprano’s", I am reliable informed that Alabama 3 provide the music, which has gone someway to increase their somewhat low profile. Although perhaps one of the most amazing coincidences is that the band members "Larry Love", "D. Wayne Love", "The Mountain of Love" and "Sir Real Love" all share the same surname, but are not actually related; what are the chances of that. Certainly a bit different from most of the other stuff around at the moment, and well worth the experiment.

Black Star Line - Bengali Bantam Youth Experience

OK, picture the scene, Its Friday night, 11pm and the barman has already called for last orders. In pubs throughout the country the eternal question flashes across everyone’s mind. Should you go to the local Balti House for a few pints of larger and a chicken vindaloo, or should you attempt to strut your funky stuff at the local club. It’s a tricky question and one that is seldom answered correctly, however its is now possible to have the best of both worlds. For an enjoyable club and curry experience in the safety of your own home you will require the following ingredients. 1 jar Sharwoods Balti Sauce, 1 Chicken Breast, 1 large onion, 1 cup of basmati rice, 1 powerful hi-fi system, a copy of Bengali Bantam Youth Experience by Black Star Liner and understanding neigbours. Step 1; give the food items to a woman and point her in the general direction of the kitchen. Step 2 place the "Black Star Liner" CD in the CD player and crank the volume up to 11. Step 3 listen to the exquisite blend of traditional Indian music and modern dance beats cleverly woven together. "Low BMW" is one of my personal favorites and has a deep reggae style heavy bass. "Gurdeep’s Yellow Funk" is equally catchy despite consisting of a single lyric, "Electronic music for the mind and the soul" repeated throughout the entire song. "Pink Rupee" showcases the band talents in actually playing some traditional Indian instruments in addition to being able to program their synths and "Indeer Automatic" is an inspired mix of dance and Indian music with superb vocals courtesy of "Anna Samamt". Proof positive that there are some real gems hidden in the dance sections.

Madonna: Music

Either I’m producing more testosterone than is good for me or Madonna is one horny mother. However its all to no avail as on 22nd December 2000 Madonna walked down the aisle of a Scottish Cathedral to the dulcet tones of "Music" sung by a choir of schoolboys dressed in their best Ali G outfits. "Music" the album, like Madonna’s wedding entrance also gets underway with "Music" the single as Ms Ciccione asks "Hey Mr. DJ put a record on, I wanna dance with my baby". The song itself probably requires little more description as it has been fairly hard to avoid. It is however a first class piece of modern pop and demonstrates Madonna’s ability to keep up to date. Another notable track, "I Deserve It" has an opening lyric of "This GUY was meant for me and I was meant for him"; there’s no doubt that she got the hots for a certain British film director. Despite the overly soppy lyrics this is another fine song. "Amazing" is not dissimilar to "Beautiful Stranger", which featured in Austin Powers 2. It seems to have a very similar structure and melody, and more importantly it helps me conjure up happy memories of her rubbing her butt up against Mike Myers. "Don’t Tell Me" the latest single is seemingly designed to make people think their CD players are on the blink as the song seems to be randomly jumping or skipping. The video doesn’t help a great deal as that also freezes and jumps around. After several listens though it does seem to work quite well and this is yet another great single. The album concludes with her version of Don McClean’s "American Pie" which was never going to get anywhere near the original and she doesn’t even attempt the later versus. The next thing to look forward to is a release of the version of "Music" sung by the Ali G schoolboy choir, all in the name of charity of course.