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The Mag: Play: CD Reviews.

Byline: Paul Cole

MATT BIANCO

Matt's Mood (Universal)

IT'S been 20 years since the Biancos called it a day but, doubtless spurred by the croon boom, they're back with more Latin-lite and soft swing. Get past the aptly-titled Ordinary Day and it gets better, particularly when they pick up the tempo. I Never Meant To, Wrong Side Of The Street and Ronnie's Samba - the latter using studio trickery to feature sax player Ronnie Ross, who died 10 years ago - all have a winning charm. The instrumental title track, however, sounds like the theme to a dodgy TV detective movie.

MARK LANEGAN BAND

Bubblegum (Beggas Banquet)

FORMER Screaming Trees frontman Lanegan has one of the best voices in rock, his gravelly drawl equally at home in rootsy Americana or hell-for-leather metal. For his new solo album he recruits Queens Of The Stone Age mates Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri, Guns 'N Roses pals Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan, and songbird PJ Harvey, the latter duetting on addictive Hit For The City. Show-stealing Sideways In Reverse recalls energetic Iggy Pop while Out Of Nowhere has a subtly Spanish slant. Unmissable.

(PICK OF THE WEEK)

TANYA DONELLY Whiskey Tango Ghosts (4AD)

IF you're a fan of Donelly's grunge-pop glories, look elsewhere. The former Throwing Muse has bared her soul in superb songwriting which draws on influences from Stephen Sondheim to Gram Parsons and the result, while not immediate, is rare wonder. Simply backed by acoustic guitar or piano, the likes of Every Devil and Divine Sweet Divide are growers, while The Center veers off towards mainstream pop. Best is the spine-tingling My Life As A Ghost, the whispery vocal recalling Sarah McLachlan.

JANIS IAN

Souvenirs (Cooking Vinyl)

A TIMELY compilation traces Ian's career from 1972 to 1981, the period widely regarded as her creative peak despite some superb subsequent releases. All the hallmarks are here from the spine-tingling Stars - sung simply and unplugged - to the jazz-tinged disco beat of Fly Too High, an unlikely collaboration with Giorgio Moroder. The real highlights are Jesse, a poignant song of heartache later covered by Joan Baez, and delightful The Other Side Of The Sun, during which Ian duets with herself.

JOHN PETRUCCI

& JORDAN RUDESS

An Evening With (Favored Nations)

PETRUCCI and Rudess are the keyboardsman and guitarist from prog-metal band Dream Theater and this gig is a stylish, if self-indulgent, night out. Opening with flamenco (Furia Taurina), they progress through folk (Fife And Drum), jazz (Hang II) and rock (Black Ice), taking in the Satriani-styled In The Moment en route. Best is State Of Grace, on which Rudess demonstrates the skills that led David Bowie to recruit him. But Bite Of The Mosquito (a thinly-disguised Flight Of The Bumblebee) is tacky showboating.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 15, 2004
Words:456
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