Maiden and their ilk. From the Night of the Living Dead pastiche cover to the pounding pop-punk and metallic riffs. this has upped the rock factor from last year's bubblegum All Killer, NO Filler. Totally stupid but totally infectious. (Henry Northmore)
JOHNNY CASH American IV: The Man Comes Around (American) 0000
Suprising to note perhaps that this is fourth in Cash's American Recordings series: the septuagenarian is wracked by ill heath ~ he was diagnosed viith Parkinson's and more recently Shy-Drager Syndrome — but still manages to turn out albums of unerring quality.
He blends considered takes on the familiar like 'Bridge over Troubled Water' and 'Danny Boy‘ with a smattering of originals. the breathtaking opener and title track being the strongest among those here. The focus is. as always. Cash's sonorous baritone: a veice so ingrained wrth character that it can fill the songs of Sting. Nine lnch Nails. the Beatles. Depeche Mode and the Eagles with similarly atmospheric wonder. Long may he reign. (Mark Robertson)
ROCK PEARL JAM Riot Act
It's a long time since the sight of Eddie Vedder in a lumberiack shirt and a girl's haircut sent a thrill down the backs of the nation's grungers. lndeed. wrth the benefit of hindsight it seems weird that punkish Nirvana ever got lumped in the same movement as Pearl Jam. a band who never quite managed to suppress their epic tendencies -- but still managed to produce a damn fine racket.
While this. their fifth studio effort. is unlikely to raise that much excitement on this side of the Atlantic. it's an album of substance and finesse. caught between frenzy and contemplation and filled With the angst of middie youth. (James Smart)
MISSY ELLIOTT Under Construction (Elektrai 0000
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Missy Elliott is a hip hop freak. side-stepping all the rules for a female rap star (you must show plenty of T&A. talk abOut your punani a lot try and cuss as much
2 s the boys) and beating everyone at their own game. For her fourth album she and Timbaland preach for peace and hip hop unity. reverting to old school block party tactics to entice fickle hip hop fans away from the worltl—dominating Neptunes. And they almost succeed too. Timbaland wrings the most out of his littering beats while Missy lays it on thick about the good old days. taking it back to the streets and doing up the laces on her fat sneakers. Well intentioned but lacking in tension. (Mark Robertson)
WORLD YOUSSOU N’DOUR Nothing’s in Vain (Eastwest Nonesuch. .0...
Fuil of stunning Senegalese sounds. in this l()iig—a\.'-/aite<l album N'Docr is definitely back-to-roots yet u.'./ith a totally modern feei. Unlike Malian Salif Kmta's recent magical Moffoii. where Ke:ta's voice weaves through the mix. N'Dour croons into the ear.
Each song seduces through distinct slow building atmospheres. enchanting With lyrics like philosophical reflections. Nenher Neneh Cherry or Peter Gabriel pop up for the European 'hit' bid: instead French pop star Pascal Obispo guests
on ‘So Many Men' and N'Dour's new hymn. ‘Africa Dream Again'. Will he one day be Senegalese PreSident? He certainly manifests the deepest human spirit in beautiful music that dances into the soul. (Jan Fairley)
POP ROBBIE WILLIAMS Escapology iEMll O.
Robbie has released his most honest. naked. mature. soul baring album ever — apparently. If this album is mature then mature means more of the same Robbie Williams by numbers.
As you would expect there are the guaranteed no is like bland first single ‘Feel'. ‘love Somebody' and ‘Handsome Man'. Then there's the ‘appeal to the yanks' numbers and a few ‘on these will fill tip some space’. With some cheeky lyrics. a dash of Oasis and a dusting of Elton John. [:scape/ogy is as safe and middle of the road as anyone could possibly imagine.
Presumably his ‘i'einvention' meant a new bird and postcode. The truth is though this ‘.'/:ll be lapped tip and loved ur‘guestionably by many. many people. Which unfortunately means he'll be around for a long time yet. iJane Hamilton)
New York retro? Isn’t that. like, so last year? the Star Spangles obviously don’t think so. and their debut single ‘Which of the Two of us is Going to Burn this House Down/ Stain Glass Shoes‘ (Capitol .0. ) is punky and fun and a bit like the Undertones. Swedish fourpiece Caesars are even funner, and the ‘Fun and Games‘ EP (Virgin 0.00 ) is bubblegum pop that's gone through the mixer and come out twice as chewy.
Wasn’t dance music supposed to put a halt to all this pedestrian crap? The Magnificents do their best with the phenomenal ‘4 Claws of the Underground EP' (Scandinavia no”), a corrosive, hallucinogenic tech-funk workout that could and probably should change the world but will have to make do with Single of the Fortnight for now. And hark! Here comes Moonshine feat Byron Stingly bearing the laudable instruction to ‘Shake Your Booty' (Black & Blue I... ). a slightly repetitive. very gay and jolly entertaining house record.
The brilliantly named Jazzfatnastees (one half of whom is the even-more—brilliantly named Mercedes Martinez) do the Philadelphia soul thing competently on ‘All Up in my Face‘ (RYKO COO ). a radio friendly groove that '8 worth getting for the B-side a cappella if nothing else. Scottish quintet Skin on Skin aren’t as funky. but their ode to everyone‘s second favourite day of the week. 'Friday‘ (Red Tiger 00. ) is as cheerfully perky as a Supergrass/ Proclaimers hybrid should be. Mid- 903 Glasgow space-rock nearly men Telstar Ponies are back. which is a cause for celebration if you dig the charming mixture of folk and My Bloody Valentine showcased on the ‘Hares on the Mountain EP' (Static Caravan 00. ). But where better to end up than Young Heart Attack, a bunch of Texans whose second single 'Tommy Shots/To the Teeth' (Rex .000 ) is mad. bad rock‘n'roll with no choruses. Excellent. (James Smart)
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1 10 THE LIST 28 Now-12 Dec (XL-0?