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William S Burroughs / Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy: Spare Ass Annie & Other Tales (4th & Broadway, CD/LP/tape). The best of several recent attempts at setting Burroughs' spoken words against a musical backdrop. The two beat poets were introduced at a U2 concert, and what at first seems an unlikely pairing works remarkably well: the knowledge that it is Hiphoprisy - the most upright and scrupulous of young industrial rappers - supplying the mechanical funk backing for the charismatic old degenerate, somehow gives the whole thing a new twist, and Hal Willner's witty orchestrations are the icing on the cake. This gets better as it goes along, and by half-way through Burroughs' familiar dry snarl is constantly

cracking into a smile. Shudder as Dr Benway bemoans the decline of 'can-do surgery'; marvel as Old Bill's misanthropy rivals even his hatred for dogs - ' 'What, our Fluffy harm a child? That's ridiculous.' Long may your child live to think so.' Note to 4th & Broadway's marketing department: with the right promotion, and a bit of positive

thinking, the superb 15-minute 'Junky's Christmas' could be a memorable Yuletide chart-topper. Ben Thompson

P J Harvey: 4-Track Demos (Island, CD/LP/ tape). Are your ears troubled with waxy build-up? Have pigeons been making a mess of your window sill? Polly Jean Harvey has the answer. Those who find the Somerset siren's finished works too abrasive are strongly advised to steer clear of these budget rough-cuts. For fans, or the idly curious keen to find out what all the fuss is about, they are a nasty, scouring experience well worth seeking out. Eight of these 14 songs have already appeared on Harvey's second album, Rid of Me, but it is instructive to hear how they sounded before producer Steve Albini got to work on them. And the primitive instrumentation - sawing slide guitar, clattering rhythm - generally allows their gothic hearts to show through all the darker. The previously unavailable stuff, especially the vicious 'Easy' and the funny 'M-Bike', is just as ferocious. If Harvey's intention was - as seems likely - to sound like Howlin' Wolf's bad sister giving birth to a grand piano, that aim has been realised. BT

THE IoS PLAYLIST

THE FIVE BEST DISCS OF THE MOMENT

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. Michael White

Howard Ferguson: Amore Langueo, Piano Concerto, etc. London Symphony Chorus, CLS / Hickox (EMI, CD). Another British Composers release - newly recorded - of two of the best but, alas, rarely heard scores by a composer overdue for reappraisal. MW

Honky: Koffee Koloured Kids (ZTT, single). Inspiring polemical pop from clued-up Doncaster rappers. BT

Pet Shop Boys: Very (Parlophone, CD/LP/ tape). Heart-on-sleeve hi-energy rhapsodies. A masterpiece. BT

Madder Rose: Swim (Rough Trade, single). Beautifully crafted New York introspection with a massive outgoing chorus. BT

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