RECORDS / New Releases

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The Independent Culture
Roy Ayers: Shining Symbol (Polydor, LP/tape/CD). Rare groove no longer. Sixteen of the notoriously hard-to-find better moments of the jazz-funk-fusion legend, corralled within a single enclosure. This will sicken those who've fought duels over them in the past, but it's great news for the rest of us. Neighbours will gasp at your sophistication as mellow masterworks like 'Running Away' and 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine' fly out of your summer windows. Vibes and niceness abound - Ayers is the source of more samples than John Lewis's wallpaper department - but the militancy of 'Red Black & Green' and 'We Live in Brooklyn Baby' is the real revelation.

Blade: The Lion Goes from Strength to Strength (691 Influential, double, LP only). It's typical of British rap that one of its most distinctive voices should have been born in Armenia. Now coming straight out of New Cross, Blade's persona is that of a disgruntled Everyman. It is the evil ways of the music industry - 'Our Price is Their Price' - that really get him steaming. Songs like 'Gripper the Pitbull' and 'Silence is Better than Bullshit' have a rough and ready aspect, but there is real sophistication in the music. The record was financed by advance subscription, and the aficionados who helped will feel they've got their money's worth. Available by mail order from 691 Influential, PO Box 552, London SW2 1TP, price pounds 12, including P&P and illustrated lyrics.