THE CRITICS: RECORDS

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Pop

NICHOLAS BARBER

Luscious Jackson: Electric Honey (Grand Royal)

Can't afford to leave the office this summer? Simply transport yourself into the sunshine with 15 carefree grooves and leafy choruses. The third album from the Beastie Boys' gal pals is a New York block-party at which Eighties pop has a drink with Seventies funk, new wave chats to a spaghetti western theme, and a classical violin gets on surprisingly well with sitars and techno beats. The songs are often sketchy, but if Electric Honey is a triumph of cool over content, it's still a triumph. Whenever you start to question what the witterings about underwater frauleins and sexy hypnotists actually adds up to, you're distracted by a perfectly placed burst of piano, organ, snake-charming pipe, barking dog or Debbie Harry's guest vocals. The Spice Girls produced by Beck might sound like this.

Jazz

PHIL JOHNSON

Paolo Conte: The Best of Paolo Conte (Nonesuch)

Over a set of accordion-driven backings that call upon hot-jazz, Parisian cabaret-chanson, and the emotional excesses of Italian opera, Conte's Marlboro-cured voice sings entrancingly of archetypal male losers, impossibly exotic females, and an imaginary America peopled exclusively by Harlem hot-shots and Ernest Hemingway. It's intoxicating stuff.

Various Artists: The Very Best of Jazz Funk (GTV)

Get out the Turtle Wax and shine that GTi, for the soundtrack to a whole Seventies and Eighties-worth of chamois-leathering is collected here. From Tom Browne's "Funkin' For Jamaica" to an unchronological "Cantaloop" by US3, via all the usual suspects (Lonnie Liston Smith, Grover Washington Jr, Weather Report), this collection has got the lot.

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