ALBUMS / He still wears it well: Andy Gill on Rod Stewart and the week's other new releases

ROD STEWART

Unplugged . . . and Seated

(Warner Bros 9362-45289-2)

APART from its ability to attract the biggest names in rock, the success of the MTV Unplugged format relies on a more intimate level of performance, free of the prevailing bombast of stadium rock: it's a way to reach millions in a small-club atmosphere. At its best it can return to rock some of its freshness. But sometimes, the intimacy alone is enough.

So it is here, with Rod seated and thus mercifully prevented from wiggling his bum at the audience, concentrating instead on giving close to definitive renderings of some of his best material, with old mucker Ronnie Wood at hand to chip in tasty slide-guitar. Introducing his first live version of Tim Hardin's 'Reason to Believe' since he recorded it 22 years ago, Rod marvels at the passage of time. 'Most of the band weren't born,' he states, laddishly. 'Me wife was only one]' 'Hwurrgh hwurrgh,' chortles Ron, the most cheerfully disgusting sound you'll ever hear.

Despite problems balancing the thinner sound of Ron's country-blues licks with a rhythm section that makes few allowances for lack of amplification, there's an elasticity to songs like 'Every Picture Tells A Story' and 'Maggie May' that's entirely winning. The ragged raunch of old Faces cuts like 'Stay With Me' is less successful, but the masterstroke is the introduction of a string section, adding emotional uplift to a handful of songs beginning with Curtis Mayfield's 'People Get Ready', taking in Van Morrison's 'Have I Told You Lately' and peaking with a sublime reading of Tom Waits' 'Tom Traubert's Blues (Waltzing Matilda)' - all of them evidence of Rod's great taste in covers.

TINA TURNER

What's Love Got to Do with It

(Parlophone CDPCSD 128)

THIS IS another sort of disguised greatest hits package, being the soundtrack to the forthcoming film based on her life. There are a handful of new songs - the best is Lulu's 'I Don't Wanna Fight' - but for the most part the album offers meticulously reworked versions of songs like 'Nutbush City Limits' and 'Proud Mary'. Oddly, a version of The Trammps' 'Disco Inferno' is included, complete with weedy Seventies synthesiser noises, while 'River Deep, Mountain High' is notable by its absence. As for Ike, condemned by history to wear the black hat in Tina's life story, perhaps it's not surprising that he's only allowed a couple of song credits; and it can't be coincidental that one of these is 'A Fool for Love', whose call-and-response chorus has taken on a retrospective significance: 'You know you love him / You can't understand / Why he treats you like he do / When he's such a good man.'

GURU

Jazzmatazz

(Chrysalis CTCD 34)

FREESTYLE FELLOWSHIP

Innercity Griots

(4th & Broadway BRCD 595)

RAP continues to spread its virus into jazz; or is it the other way round? On Jazzmatazz, the Gang Starr rapper Guru is joined by a selection of Seventies jazz-funkers (Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, Lonnie Liston Smith) and new US and Brit jazzers (Branford Marsalis, Courtney Pine, Ronny Jordan) on a series of pairings which, though enjoyable, steer too close to easy-listening muzak for discomfort. Guru's hipster-cool voice is agreeable, but he has little to say here; and the musicians, apparently, even less. It's not unpleasant, but the chaotic thrill of even the simplest rap sample-collage is nowhere to be found.

Jazz is only part of the Freestyle Fellowship's thing, and apart from one track - the swinging poetry / jazz groove 'Park Bench People' - they don't use a real band, relying on the more traditional excitements of P-Funk and Kool & The Gang samples when they're not pursuing complex a capella formulations. The album title is instructive, the four rappers offering a South Central LA version of the West African 'griot' tradition (a kind of lyrical historian and 'praise singer'). The freestyle part of their name, meanwhile, indicates their belief in rap as the verbal equivalent of jazz soloing.

For subject matter, they ransack their surroundings, situation and history: 'Cornbread' is a free-associative batch of images from a childhood, and 'Mary' a pro-cannabis ode, while the usual rap territory of drive-bys and bitches is dealt with more ironically than usual.

MERCURY REV

Boces

(Beggars Banquet BBQ CD 140)

'THIS year for Lent . . . give up pop,' advise the American avant-rockers Mercury Rev in their sleevenote to this second album. They practise what they preach: 'Meth of a Rockette's Kick', the 10-minute opening track, begins gently, with pastoral flute, building to a cacophony akin to the Velvets' 'Sister Ray', then adding a barrage of bathetic trombones.

Not for them the mundanities of verse, chorus and middle eight; their method is to leap into the void, with tangential explorations enthusiastically pursued. At the Royal Albert Hall a few months ago, the sextet added three ambient guitars strung above the stage, picking up vibrations and feeding them back into the maelstrom. This astonishing album captures the thrill of heading at 90mph down a dead-end street, and miraculously finding an escape turn at the last moment. Or, sometimes, not.

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London