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Black Crowes `By Your Side' (Columbia) Atlanta's hard-living Crowes return to top form even though Chris Robinson does sound like a young Rod Stewart with Aerosmith fixations. It's an album of furious boogie woogie deep-fried rock `n' roll devoid of pretensions and high on energy, though after the two blitzing openers it does tail off a little. HHH

Lone Justice `This World is Not My Home' (Geffen) This retrospective of Maria McKee's early 1980s band starts off with a handful of the best ever cowpunk numbers which are the main reason to purchase this disc, but as time went by they sadly adopted stadium pretensions, even dueting with Bono. HHH

The Tractors `Farmers in a Changing World' (Arista Nashville) These four hefty men from Tulsa have hinted that they're more gritty and experimental than the usual Flashville fare, but songs about Elvis, catfish and poor boys show that the world has changed. It's because of people like them that country developed. H

Various Artists `New Highway - Return to Viva Americana' (Boca) This second consignment of 16 rare and exclusive alt.country tracks packaged with a large booklet emphasises what a broad church this scene can be. There's lots of cutting edge (Slobberbone, Robbie Fulks, Jonboy Langford) and some pedestrian stuff (Nadine, Tammy Rogers, Neal Casal) but overall it's a very worthy sampler. HHH

Various Artists `The End Vol.1' (XL Recordings) A beautifully- packaged double CD set from the best club in London sees a new take on the otherwise staid club compilations. Disc 1 has a diverse mix of twelve tracks from the most popular club nights while Disc 2 is a mix by the End Sound System that features owner Mr. C. HHH


Hole `Malibu' (Geffen) In a good week for singles by guitar-wielding outfits (check also Sebadoh's stomping "Flame" and the debut single by Gay Dad) Hole just get the nod with this catchy tune that shows Courtney Love in an almost poppy mood. HHHH