ROCK / Records

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The Rockingbirds (Heavenly HvnLP2). The Jackson Browne revival gathers pace. Well, not exactly; but for all these self-consciously countrified north Londoners' best efforts to tap into the sad and lovely creative veins of Gram Parsons, it is their record's breezy freeway- friendliness rather than any sense of melancholy, that makes it such a welcome innovation. The catchy but cloying single 'Jonathon Jonathon', a tweely over-stated tribute to Jonathon Richman, is thankfully the furthest they take a slightly irritating propensity for wearing record collections on sleeves. Elsewhere there are some nice songs 'Gradually Learning', 'Time Drives The Truck' - and fine playing, particularly from pedal-steel guitar man Patrick Harbuthnot.

Julian Cope: Floored Genius (Island CID 8000 512 788-2). Given the fabled waywardness of the man, the strangest thing about this 13-year retrospective is its consistency. Cope's talents for tuneful whimsy, baroque instrumentation and plain old-fashioned daftness, have been remarkably well preserved by his decision to concentrate on being a legend rather than a success. There are few surprises among the Teardrop Explodes selections, apart from how bright and fresh they all still sound. But Julian's solo efforts turn out to be worth remembering for reasons other than his attempts to promote them by wearing nothing but a turtle shell. 'Safesurfer', from last year's surprise eco-epic Peggy Suicide, has all the frazzled grandeur of the first Roxy Music album.

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