RECORDS: NEW RELEASES

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The Independent Culture
Adam Ant: Wonderful (EMI, CD/LP/tape). Mr Ant's latest comeback gets a publicity boost from Gene and Elastica, young bands who remember sticking white Sellotape across their faces when they were at school, and now trumpet him as an influence. But the dandy highwayman is no longer buckling his swashes, and his new material is not as distinctive as the old stuff. None the less, it's very good. Wonderful is Nineties alternative guitar-rock with an Eighties sheen. There are echoes of David Bowie (what with face-paint and bad acting, they have a lot in common) and Sixties psychedelia. More importantly there are swaggering pop tunes, written by Ant, his old mate Marco Pirroni, and Morris-sey's guitarist, Boz Boorer. Examining the songs one by one, only half of them amount to much, but the album as a whole sounds fine and dandy. Nicholas Barber

Marianne Faithfull: A Secret Life (Island, CD/tape). An ironic title for the first new album in eight years from the celebrated Sixties survivor. She has found some new collaborators: Angelo Badalamenti, of Twin Peaks fame, does all the music, and there are lyrics from Shakespeare and Dante as well as Faithfull herself. When you see a track called "She", you wonder if it's co-written by H Rider Haggard. But these are unworthy thoughts given that Faithfull too is now a bestselling author (her candid autobiography is out in paperback in June); and that she is an artist of real distinction. The well- travelled voice is in better shape than it was 15 years ago (has she given up smoking?), and Badalamenti's stately understatement gives it plenty of space. The songs are show tunes set to film music: Marlene Dietrich meets David Lynch. Among them is one of the few popular songs written from the point of view of the adulterous mother. "After a certain age," Faithfull sings, "every artist works with injury." It's a memorable line; and a memorable record. Tim de Lisle

A Guy Called Gerald: Black Secret Techno-logy (Juice Box, CD/LP/tape). Can it really be more than half a decade since enigmatic Mancunian beat-mangler Gerald Simpson came out of nowhere to have a Top 10 hit with the hypnotic "Voodoo Ray", and then went straight back there? The intervening years of business wrangles and principled obscurity have not been wasted if this intense and innovative new album is anything to go by. By turns mellow and frantic, Gerald crochets soulful vocal loops and hyperactive biscuit-tin drum patterns into a supple and captivating mesh. At his best - on the blissful "Finlay's Rainbow", and with drum and bass pioneer Goldie on the aptly- titled "Energy" - he not only invents a new genre (Ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . . Lovers' Jungle!) but also stakes a convincing claim to some uncharted spiritual high ground. Ben Thompson

Annie Lennox: Medusa (RCA, CD/tape). Ten old songs, enterprisingly selected and dramatically revamped. TdeL

Teenage Fanclub: Mellow Doubt (Creation, single). Top-flight Glaswegian harmonists in reflective mood. With whistling. BT

Laurie Anderson: The Ugly One With the Jewels . . . (Warner, CD/tape). Excerpts from last year's hypnotic spoken-word show. Campfire tales, except with a vocoder and an electronic violin. NB

Elastica: Elastica (Deceptive, CD/LP/tape). Justine Frischmann and co's long-awaited dbut: 15 spiky gems, some of which are even longer than two minutes - every bit as good as the old wave of new wave. NB

Mahler 6th Symphony: Vienna Philhar-monic/Boulez (Deutsche Grammophon, CD). Boulez, the Vienna Philharmonic and Mahler aren't an obvious mnage trois, but the iron fist of the master seems to be softening in old age. The result is a performance ripe enough to qualify as echt-Mahlerian.

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