Aretha Franklin: A Rose Is Still A Rose (Arista) Its only on the funkily up-tempo title track of the album that Aretha - shall we call her your majesty? - fully lives up to the role of great elder stateswoman, dispensing her wisdom on love and life with twanging emotion. Most of the tracks are achey-breaky ballads with an amiable, coherent style, but it's hardly the stuff to put her (still sometimes) earth-shaking gospel prowess under a challenge. HHH

Various Artists: Sounds From The Electronic Lounge (React) This is the sort of electronica overload which would provide the perfect ambience for programmes on millennium paranoia. Various techno bods strut their stuff in a clinical but sometimes intriguing way - Scanner and Techno Animal included - but this works too much from the head rather than the heart. HH

Janus Stark: Great Adventure Cigar (Earache) Why is a member of The Prodigy releasing a record on Nottingham metal indie Earache? Because Janus Stark are oiky punkers without a hope of selling even 0.1 per cent of the records that The Prodigy shift. Janus Stark hammer away at the sort of nondescript noise-pop China Drum, let alone Green Day, would reject as lacking personality. HH

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: The Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Mute, below) The turbulent talent that is Nick Cave provides many a simmer- to-boil melodrama here, and, befitting a man who has worked with everyone from Barry Adamson to Kylie Minogue, it's a satisfyingly diverse trawl through his last decade. One still gets the impression he temporarily inhabits a character rather than really lives it, but he's one of the best conductors of dark atmospheres to grace the post-punk arena. HHHH

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