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The Independent Culture

Mark Knopfler: Golden Heart (Mercury, CD/tape). "14 stunning new songs by the voice and guitar of Dire Straits" says the sticker, whereas anything beyond "mildly agreeable" would actually be pushing it. On his first non-film-soundtrack solo album, Knopfler hangs on to riffs from "Walk of Life" and "Money for Nothing" in order to hang on to his old fans, and he's recruited Paul Brady and the Chieftains to help convince us that he's also an Irish folk singer, even on songs about a Napoleonic soldier and a medieval knight. It mumbles past competently in a dusky, pipe-and- slippers way, but you show me someone who thinks it's stunning, and I'll show you a member of the Brits committee. Nicholas Barber

The Small Faces: The Immediate Years (Charly, 4CD set). In the afterglow of Brit-pop apotheosis - biography, TV show, life-size guano effigies sculpted by Damien Hirst - there is still something unspoilt and even mysterious about the Small Faces. This insanely comprehensive archive, with its endless mono and stereo versions, alternate mixes and guide vocals, does its best to close the book on Steve Marriott's dapper cockney quartet, but can't quite manage it. Arch mods they may have been, but it's not as the quintessence of anything that the Small Faces are best remembered. Psychedelia, punk, heavy metal, music hall and even (in Stanley Unwin's notorious Ogden's Nut Gone Flake narration) the origins of the rock/comedy interface all muck-in together here: testaments to a unique and enduring openness. Ben Thompson

Teddy Edwards: Tango in Harlem (Verve Gitanes, CD). Completely swoonable back-to-basics trio set by the veteran saxophonist who helped define the sound of West Coast bop in the Forties. All the ingredients for a Walter Mosely thriller soundtrack are here: cheesy Latin grooves on "Besame Mucho", a version of "The Nearness of You" so maudlin it nearly drowns in its own tears and, best of all, an unaccompanied bleat through Burt Bacharach's "Alfie" that is the essence of late-night, smoochy jazz noir. Phil Johnson