delightfully titled Play This You Bastard. But what does it actually sound like? As if you have to ask. Imagine The Exploited accidentally meeting one of those big gangs of Festival loonies that bang bin lids for entertainment, and having a massive swedge with them. You've got it. Their 'version’ of 'California Uber Alles' (I know, I know) has to be heard to be believed. It goes without saying that this record is both utterly fantastic and truly terrifying. (DJ)


Sam Rivers’ Rivbea All- Star Orchestra

Inspiration (RCA Victor) *ir'kir

Saxophonist Sam Rivers gets a rare opportunity to showcase his original and exciting music for large ensemble with a contemporary big band which more than lives up to the all-star billing (the sax section alone features Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Chico Freeman, Gary Thomas and Hamlet Bluiett). The seven compositions illustrate different facets of his compositional techniques, notably his individual use of multi- layered melodies, spare harmonies and imaginatively asymmetrical rhythms. All are intended to be performed at greater length with extended solos, but do not sound in any way truncated in these versions, and may even benefit from the extra cogency dictated by the time constraints. (KM)

Bela Fleck And The Flecktones

Greatest Hits Of The 20th Century

(Warner Bros) ***~k Bela Fleck is a virtuoso banjo player

with strong roots in bluegrass and country, but his innovative electric band The Flecktones have won him numerous jazz awards since he formed them a decade ago. This superb compilation draws on six previous albums, from their eponymous debut through to the current line-up with saxophonist Jeff Coffin, and adds a couple of previously unreleased tracks. If there is little here that will strike the listener as conventional jazz, the cross- fertilisation of idioms - jazz, folk, country, funk, rock, you name it and the superb playing make a potent and irresistible combination. (KM)

The Charlatans

My Beautiul Friend (Universal) ii: i it *

Oh, Tim, we love you. When everyone else out there is having kids or losing the plot or trying to be an artist, you’re there for us. With a melody that sounds as if it was dredged from the bottom of a whisky bottle, and sentiments to match, this is melancholic genius of the highest order. (LM)

A*Teens Super Trouper (Stockholm) **

Yes! At last! A teen band dedicated to the cause of keeping the flame of Abba alive! And we’re not talking about Steps here. What we are talking is high tack: four liber-teens squeezed into combats and tight skirts and pistol-whipped into formation dancing to the Bjorn and Benny canon. 4 Eva. And you get a karaoke version on the flip. ls it Christmas or something? (LM)

Holly Johnson

The Power of Love (Pleasuredome) *‘k‘k

Evidently it is. Because here's all the schmaltz that you'll ever need, with millennial remixes and everything. But this is Holly at his pompous, tongue in cheek best, and that counts for a lot round these parts. Stick it on, open a bottle of champers, and sit crying in the dark, mourning that great lost love. (LM)

LeAnn Rimes

Crazy (London) ***

Yes, it's that 'Crazy', and no, it’s not sickening, though in the hands of wee LeAnn, God knows it should be. However, the backing singers wear tuxes, LeAnn wears a big fancy ballgown, and despite being about twelve, she belts it out like a cabaret pro with style to spare, undoubtedly adding the requisite slinky moves that all the gangsters love. (LM)

Peeps Into Fairyland Rain and Wires EP (D&C) Hr * it it More whisky-drenched beauty here,

this time from Glasgow’s much-lauded Peeps. ’Palace Flophouse’ slouches

Does your mother know7: A'Teens

record reviews MUSIC

(Beck MidniteVultures (Geffen) *****

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The mile-high club: Beck

Gm. Miaow. Et cetera. Beck has gone all priapic and sweaty, like Neil Hannon did circa Casanova. Is this what happens when miniature geeky men attain a certain degree of musical success and start getting chicks? Leery lyrics, sleazy grooves and tongues in cheeks all oVer the place. Well, long may it continue. since Midnlte Vultures is a fabulous, Wiggly-hipped hybrid‘creature that kidnaps Prince. ties him up, puts him in the boot of a big pimpls car and drives him all the way to Germany for a night of deviance with Kraftwerk and David Bowie. Who gives a damn whether Beck Is a true and genuine preacher of the gospel of love or a snidey little ironist? The fact remains that ’Sexxlaws’ and ’Mixed Bizniz' are huge, hilarious, funky showtunes; ‘Get Real Paid' is creepy electro genius with weird kiddie vocals; 'Hollywood Freaks’ is low-slung, broken-up hip hop with synths straight out of an 805 schoolboy's bedroom; and 'Debra’ is falsetto R&B foreplay. not a million miles from the likes of R. Kelly if you listen to the pained roars of passion and ignore the slightly peculiar lyrics. Beck's shagging manifesto is a thing of divine. dirty, educated lunacy.

(Hannah McGill)

along like a truck driving through an Ohio summer storm, Will Oldham at the wheel and Bill Callahan riding shotgun; elsewhere, gorgeous melodies and Michael Angus’ beautifully wracked voice conjure up the ghosts of Godspeed You Black Emperor! and REM as if it were the easiest thing in the world. (LM)


The Chemicals Between Us (Trauma/ lnterscope) tar

You are most definitely not a beautiful and unique snowflake. Your life is in ruins, your girl wants you dead and Super Collider have remixed you by discarding everything you gave them and building a brooding late night scare-hop epic instead. Which is just as well, because the original is naught but a turgid electrogoth rant. Still, he’s quite good looking, that Gavin Rossdale. (LM)


Nineteen (Human Condition) *‘k‘k Lackadaisical strumming from the label that brought you ldlewild, but there's no onetwothreefourpunkrawk here. Folky abstraction and Wilson harmonies are the order of the day; chiming acoustics walk tall in the shadow of Moe Tucker drums and four am falsetto rambling, and for a couple of minutes it might be summer again. (LM)

Atari Priest

Bruno’s Head (Faux-Lux) *‘k‘k‘k Loosely (some might say very loosely) based on Shotgun by eccentric pop loons Wisdom Of Harry, this is about as far as you get from Kansas. Echoes and

squeaks flit in and out of sparse beats and synths burble like underwater rock pools, while someone tortures poor wee Toto in the background. With hot irons. (LM)

The Secret Goldfish/Vic


Excited People/Place We Used To Live

(Creeping Bent) *ch Another day, another Creeping Bent

spilt single. The Secret Goldfish rattle and roll along like they always do, servrng up three minutes of pure pop with edges as ragged as Dennis Hopper after a night out, and Vic Godard turns everything upside down playing at being ’Ashes to Ashes‘-era Bowie covering the Shangri-La’s. (LM)

Mouse On Mars

Distroia (Domino) *inHz

You know where you are with Mouse On Mars. Polo necks. Cheekbones. Filterless fags. Computers being disembowelled by rusty spanners and clockwork melodies that tick like primed bombs. It might be made for dancing, but you’d need three arms, six legs and a head full of PCP to even think about it. (LM)


Doug Johnstone, Kenny Mathieson, Leon McDermott, Hannah McGill, Alan Morrison, Mark Robertson

STAR RATINGS *ir‘kiri' Unmissable , - , *** a: Very rtflood ' *‘k‘k Wo a shot , H: Below average * You've been warned

2-16 Dec 1999 THE U8T45