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Music: Sound bites.

Byline: Christopher Rees

The Trouble With being Myself Macy Gray (Epic) **** Gravel-voiced funk soul sister Macy Gray is back and sounding bigger and better than ever. Following the worldwide success of her previous two albums, On How Life Is and The ID, this contains everything that first made her such an engaging performer.

Uniting her soulful voice with a genre-hopping mix of funk, hip-hop, jazz, R&B and rock, she makes every song her own. Her diversity is a real strength here as she takes you on a trip through the highs and lows of life. The opening track and recent single, When I See You, gets the party started in true funk form before I Ain't The Money provides an unexpected treat in the form of a guest appearance from wonderboy genius Beck. Emotional ballads like She Ain't Right For You and the string-laden Jesus For A Day also supply the contemplative depth and dexterity that probably makes this her finest record so far.

Raise Your Spirit Higher (Wenyukela) Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Wrasse) **** Ladysmith Black Mambazo may have come to prominence as the harmonious voices behind the advertising campaign of a particular baked-bean manufacturer, but as this new album shows their music has always been more about spirituality and faith than commerce. This is enticing stuff.

Right In My Soul Candy Dulfer (Eagle) ** As a hired-hand Dutch saxophonist Dulfer has played with some of the greats including Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin and Prince, but as a solo artist her work struggles to generate as much excitement. Her contemporary electronics and beats are combined but are let down by poor songwriting.

Blues & Soul Power Various (WSM) **** After raiding the vaults of Atlantic this excellent collection shows how the '60s blues and soul community reacted to the new wave of white blues-inspired rock music. It was seen as something mutually beneficial, as shown by Solomon Burke's cover of Dylan's Maggie's Farm.

John Peel Sessions: Season 2 Cinerama (Scopitones) ***Always a favourite with the Radio 1 institution that is John Peel, David Gedge's Cinerama have probably played more live sessions for the show than anyone else, except maybe Melys. This second volume features early renditions from their second and third albums and is worthy of attention.

The Ultimate Shirley Bassey (EMI) **** The world isn't exactly short of Bassey collections but there's always room for another one. Boasting 24 hits from her remarkable career, signature tracks like Big Spender sit well next to Bond classics Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever on a record full of vintage Bassey.

singlesNo Good Advice Girls Allowed (Polydor) *** After leaving One True Voice for dust in the race for the Christmas number one, Girls Allowed are beginning to find their identity. They emerge as a somewhat edgy outfit full of surf guitars and a Debbie Harry sense of style and attitude that should separate them from the pack.

Forget About Tomorrow Feeder (Echo) **** Continuing the success of their best-selling album Comfort in Sound, Forget About Tomorrow could well be their biggest hit yet. Driven by some uplifting string arrangements reminiscent of U2's Beautiful Day, it's an emotional anthem and arguably the best track on the album.

Do It With Madonna The Androids (Universal) ** While others drool over Kylie, Britney, Christina and Pink, Australian punk pop quartet The Androids have their sights firmly set on Madonna. And so they contemplate such a misguided prospect in this annoyingly catchy song. They can only dream!

classicalThe Ligeti Project IV Gyorgy Ligeti (Teldec Classics) ***** Continuing the superb series of releases celebrating the work of the Hungarian composer, this fourth volume marks his 80th birthday and contains some of his most enthralling and thrilling compositions.

It begins with his most recent piece, The Hamburg Concerto, which he composed between 1998 and 2002 for solo horn and orchestra. Experimenting with unusual non-harmonic sound spectra, it produces some interesting overtones that help create the eerie and unnerving atmospheres Ligeti is renowned for. The double concerto for flute, oboe and orchestra is equally engaging, as is Ramifications (1968-69), which is a quarter-tone piece for 12 solo strings. But it is his requiem for soprano and mezzo soprano solo, mixed chorus and orchestra (1963-65) that really blows you away with its unrestrained, hyper-dramatic and apocalyptic i

t ens i t y.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 9, 2003
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