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Simply Red: Life (EastWest, CD/LP/tape). Try as I might, I can't quite bring myself to hate this modestly titled album. Maybe it's the reggae/funk credibility injection from Sly & Robbie and Bootsy Collins, or maybe the beautifully light touches of guitar and brass or the unexpected samples and scratching ... Whatever it is, somehow the songs, for all their drifting insubstantiality, really aren't so bad after all. Another multi- million seller, I'm afraid. Nicholas Barber

Holly Cole: Temptation (EMI/ Metro Blue, CD only). Slow-burning album of Tom Waits covers, delivered with a minimalist charm by singer Cole and producer Craig Street (of Cassandra Wilson fame). It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what Cole brings to them, but the songs work their magic all the same, reminding one of just how good such overlooked classics as ''Jersey Girl", "Take Me Home" and "(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night" still are. Phil Johnson