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JAMES Millionaires (Mercury): Not so much a backwards step, after the enjoyable Whiplash and recent Greatest Hits set, but at the very least a sideways one. Produced by Eno at his most clinical and prissy - you find yourself longing for some rough edges amidst all these smooth, airbrushed soundscapes - Millionaires has the unmistakeable sound of a band treading water. Cameos from Sinead O'Connor and Jamie Catto of Faithless are hardly memorable and even Tim Booth sounds hopelessly bored on the soporific Strangers. If I tell you recent single Just Like Fred Astaire is the best thing on the album that should tell you just how uninspired it all is. After 16 years this may well be an album too far for these great survivors. HH

THE CLASH From Here To Eternity (Columbia): They may have epitomised, in their early years at least, the feral vicariousness of punk, the very essence of alienated dole queue rock, but by the end, as this live compilation demonstrates all too clearly, The Clash were just another rock band. Playing Career Opportunities in front of the screaming hordes at Shea Stadium in 1982 was either a cheeky situationist prank or a sad epitaph for a band that had hopelessly compromised its ideals. I rather suspect the latter. The 17 tracks on this album are drawn from the period 1978-82 when, some would say, the band's importance had already been diluted. I Fought The Law, from 1978, and London Calling, recorded in 1982, are two of the better moments but really this is only interesting for showing perhaps the real reason for the band's disintegration; they were just plain bored - and it shows. HH

KEVIN ROWLAND My Beauty (Creation): The early omens were not good; for a start there was "that" dress and then came the great bottling off of Glastonbury 99. Well, much as you'd like this album to be a triumphant return to form those augeries proved all too prophetic. While The Long and Winding Road, Daydream Believer and Concrete and Clay no doubt mean a lot to Kevin he should have stuck to whistling them in the shower than wrapping them up in overwrought unsuitable arrangements and subjecting them to his often histrionic vocals. Scott Walker he most certainly isn't.

Kevin said he cried listening to this record - he won't be the only one. H

Simon Evans
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Author:Evans, Simon
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 23, 1999
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