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Watching the Dark: The History of Richard Thompson (Hannibal, triple CD only). These are deep waters. Folkies and guitar buffs may be quite right to admire Thompson, but the emotional heart of his music lies far beyond his ability to reinvigorate old idioms, or his instrumental virtuosity. He is the poet of deception, betrayal, abandonment, the unhealing wound. There's a layer of skin missing, and the more flayed he gets, the harder it is to drag yourself away. Five years with Fairport Convention and a 20-year solo career are reflected in an exemplary 3 1/2 - hour compilation which includes rare, unreleased and live material, and renders the Guitar / Vocal set obsolete. Rock music has never seemed less ashamed to be British. Richard Williams

Robert Plant: Fate of Nations (Fontana, CD/tape/DCC). A portentous title, a lyric-sheet invoking the Great Spirit . . . The signs are not good, but the 12 songs, 'Great Spirit' excepted, are free of messianic cant. This is top-class driving music for sales reps on Black Country

interstates. Ben Thompson


Schubert: Lieder. Brigitte Fassbaender (Sony, CD only). An extraordinary mezzo sings some of the best-known Goethe settings. Michael White

Jazz Warriors: Chameleon (on The Rebirth of the Cool 3, 4th & Bdway LP/CD/tape). British big band finds an ecstatic, elastic new-jazz groove for the Herbie Hancock dance-floor hit. R W

Dr Phibes & The House of Wax Equations: Hypnotwister (50 Seel St/Offside, LP/CD/tape). Swirling scouse psychedelia. B T

Bryan Ferry: Will You Love Me Tomorrow (Virgin, single). Scintillating version of a great song. Best format is VS CDG1455, featuring 'Feel the Need'and 'Crazy Love'. Tim de Lisle

Ace of Base: All That She Wants (Metronome, single). The first No 1 from Sweden since Abba. Who said pop was dead? B T