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The Independent Culture

The Goats: Tricks of the Shade (Columbia, LP/CD/tape). The 70-minute political rap concept album of the year so far. No contest. The Goats are, appropriately enough, three in number. They can be gruff when they want to be - 'How would you like me to turn your trust fund into a rectal thermometer?' - but it's their stylistic sure- footedness that catches the ear. Producer Joe 'The Butcher' Nicolo has been round the block a few times, but he's never had his name on anything like this before. The Goats combine the cuteness of East Coast rap with West Coast gristle, and the results are spectacular: a fearsomely articulate assault on all forms of prejudice that the scurviest sceptic would struggle not to tap a foot to. Ben Thompson



Ives: Quartets 1 & 2 / Barber: Quartet Op 11. Emmerson String Quartet (DG, CD only). A superlative coupling of romantic, chamber-scale Americana that includes the origin of Samuel Barber's subsequently over-orchestrated and ubiquitous Adagio. Michael White

Walton: Belshazzar's Feast. LSO / Previn (EMI, CD only). Reissue of a classic recording from the early Seventies, made in the composer's presence and with John Shirley- Quirk delivering the writing on the wall. MW

David Baerwald: Triage (A&M, CD/tape). Strange, spooky tales in imaginative art-rock settings. Richard Williams

David Bowie: Black Tie White Noise (Arista, LP/tape/CD). Tunes, grooves, energy and drama: Bowie twists and shouts and comes up with his best since Let's Dance. Tim de Lisle

Hole: My Beautiful Son (Geffen single, all formats). Courtney Love demonstrates that being Mrs Kurt Cobain doesn't have to make you the new Linda McCartney. The B-side, '20 Years in the Dakota', is an instant classic. BT