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k d lang: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (Sire, CD/LP/tape). This satisfying and adventurous soundtrack album, co-written with long-time collaborator Ben Mink, will come as a pleasant surprise to anyone who has so far found Lang's lesbian lounge-lizard star trip more rewarding than her music. Gus Van Sant's film of Tom Robbins's 'comic fable of freedom of movement' might have been designed as a vehicle for this woman's talents. Her swooning and, well, langorous vocal performances on songs such as 'Lifted by Love' and 'Just Keep Me Moving' are the perfect complement to the film's mood of dreamy sensuality, and also stand up well on their own. The six new singing numbers (one of which, the ebullient 'Don't Be a Lemming Polka', is actually an old live favourite that's never previously been released) will command most attention, and Lang's bluegrass-and-bossa-nova hybrid is getting more convincing by the minute, but this album's instrumentals are its best feature. Given half a chance, Teddy Borowiecki's lovely solo piano on 'Myth' and the shimmering guitar of 'Or Was I' will cut straight to the prairie in your head. Ben Thompson

Britten: War Requiem. NDR SO & Chorus/Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner (DG, CD). With three versions already in the catalogue - the 1963 classic by Britten himself, a superlative modern contender from Richard Hickox, and a perfectly good third choice from Simon Rattle - you might not want another. But John Eliot Gardiner's live recording from the 1992 Schleswig-Holstein Festival has a clean, committed strength that comes across well on disc, if sometimes sparely and at speeds whose clipped control can sound emotionally detached. Anthony Rolfe Johnson has a fine, poetic pliancy as the tenor soloist. Luba Orgonasova, the soprano, combines the sympathy of Heather Harper with the slavic edge of Vishnevskaya, which is pretty

well ideal. And Gardiner's German radio orchestra is appropriately virtuosic. On the whole I'd still go for

Hickox (with the LSO) who seems to feel the piece more deeply. But for for sheer technical command, Gardiner takes some beating. Michael White



Schumann: Dichterliebe, Liederkreis, Op 39. Thomas Quasthoff/Roberto Szidon (RCA Red Seal, CD). Finely shaded, clean and focused singing of serious quality, and a voice that shines with the cultivated intelligence of a true lieder specialist. MW

Vaughan Williams: Five Tudor Portraits, etc. Bach Choir, New Philharmonia / Willcocks (EMI, CD). Classic choral recording from the Sixties, reissued as part of EMI's superb British Composers series. MW

Pulp: PulpIntro (Island, CD/LP/tape). Budget-priced passport to an enchanted world of trainer bras and T-reg Vauxhall Chevettes. BT

Future Sound of London: Cascade (Circa, single). Rich, lustrous ambient symphony; half an hour of compelling restfulness. BT

Elastica: Stutter (Deceptive, single). Indie pop's new great white hopes are a punkier Go-Gos, but fun with it. BT