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The Independent Culture

The Band: Jericho (Castle, CD/tape). Was this a good idea? Without Robbie Robertson, whose personal ambition seems to have caused their break-up, and Richard Manuel, who hanged himself, can there really be a thing called the Band? A cursory inspection of the three remaining members' first studio recording since 1976 reveals worrying signs - such as the discrepancy between the title, which refers to a song dealing with a Kentucky mining disaster, and the cover, a painting of Big Pink, the Woodstock house where they recorded their first album. But then you hear the horns weeping and the organ warbling behind the voices of Rick Danko and Levon Helm, and something starts prickling behind the eyes. Here is an album that might not match Music from Big Pink but can certainly hold its head up alongside Stage Fright and Moondog Matinee. With Robertson went their chief songwriter, but the mix of new songs and covers of Dylan, Springsteen, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Artie Traum is a happy one, with wonderful open- weave arrangements by Garth Hudson. Springsteen's 'Atlantic City' gets a Cajun accordion and a smear of rouge, while Dylan's 'Blind Willie McTell' becomes the perfect vehicle for the achy-breaky voices of Helm and Danko. The only duds are 'Remedy', a banal opener, and the silly 'Move to Japan'; skip them and you still have almost 50 minutes' music - including a snatch of Manuel, singing the poignant 'Country Boy' just before he died. This album ought to make Robertson swallow his pride and sign on for the follow-up. Richard Williams



Underworld: Dub No Bass with My Head Man (Jnr Boy's Own, CD/LP/tape). Stream- of-consciousness tales set in a techno collage of floating beats and roaring synthesisers. Hyped, but worth the wait. Andy Beckett

Tricky: Aftermath (4th & B'way, single). Male murmurings, female wails and cocktail jazz tinklings over thick, slow rhythm: effectively a new Massive Attack record. AB

Janacek: String Quartets 1 & 2. Dvorak: String Quartet 10. Vanburgh Quartet (Collins, CD). Strong, vibrant, sympathetic performances of the Czech repertory. Michael White

Nielsen: Clarinet & Flute Concertos. Swedish RSO/Salonen (Sony, CD). Esa-Pekka Salonen delivers the goods with real insight. MW

Julee Cruise: This is Our Night (track on The Voice of Love, Warner, CD/tape). Chorister's vocals, cinema atmosphere, reggae rhythm: unlikely, but beautiful. Tim de Lisle