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The Independent Culture

Cast: Mother Nature Calls (Polydor, CD/LP/tape). "I'm so lonely, I just got to let you know / If you'd only see, you'd let the feeling grow." Welcome again to the average world of Cast, where every "you" is rhymed with a "do", and Noel Gallagher is revered as a poetic genius. John Power's Merseybeat combo tend to look like tough northern rockers, but their music is strictly production-line pop, disguised by some sub-Paul Weller R'n'B guitar. While the likes of Mansun at least attempt to stretch for the sublime, desperate to be the new Beatles, Cast fancy themselves as filling the shoes of Freddie and the Dreamers, Herman's Hermits, and, on "I'm So Lonely", the Troggs. Their ambitions stop at a catchy hook, and there are enough here to provide the requisite top 20 singles, so good luck to them. This is a weedy, wimpy record. You wouldn't bet on Cast in a punch-up with Boyzone. Nicholas Barber

Various Artists: Jumpin' (Harmless, CD/LP/tape). This inspired selection of much-sampled disco originals is more than just a sneaky means to amaze your social circle with specialist knowledge of where that vital Todd Terry hook-line came from. The sumptuous, decadent feel of these Paradise Garage anthems also prompts quiet reflection as to what might have been lost in dance music's mechanisation. Who needs Kenny Dope's Bucketheads re-mix when you can have Wood, Brass and Steel's "Funkanova"? Ben Thompson


Samuel Barber: Music for Solo Piano. Leon McCawley (Virgin Classics, CD). As the one true 20th-century figure in Classic FM's Easter Top 10, Samuel Barber seems to have usurped Gorecki as the "modern" composer for the man in the street. But it's only for one piece, the Adagio; and ignorance of the rest of Barber's work is proved by the way Classic FM trumpets his Agnus Dei as a "newcomer" to its Top 300 without realising that this is simply the Adagio by a different name. Sam playing it again. The piano music isn't well known here at all, but it's engagingly attractive: an eclectic balance between European tradition and American vernacular, with a sense of classical discipline in its otherwise romantic lyricism that Leon McCawley handles perfectly. McCawley is the young Briton who won second prize at Leeds a few years ago and has been building a steady profile ever since. A secure, clear-headed technician and discerning judge of repertory, he's just the sort of champion Barber needs. If Classic FM really wants to provide a service for its listeners, it should adopt this disc and stretch their ears. Michael White