RECORDS

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Rock

Seahorses: Do It Yourself (Geffen, CD/LP/tape). John Squire (once of the Stone Roses) and three other musicians (once of the dole queue) have made a feelgood debut album comprising cheeky Britpop, flashy, Los Angeles- style rock, and a Byrdsy hippy anthem, "Love Me and Leave Me", co-written by Liam Gallagher. Squire is still striking sparks off his guitar with no discernible effort, and while his counterfeit Stone Roses don't match the originals in their heyday, they are certainly better than 1996's final, pitiful incarnation. If Do It Yourself had come out in 1994, in place of the album which ruined the Roses' reputation, it would have been embraced as a quirky, confident, entirely reasonable record, with a few more-than-decent tunes (even if three of those tunes are, it has to be said, the Bee Gees' "Words", The Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville" and the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"). Oasis might have had some company on the road to global domination. But three years is a long time in, well, almost any business. These days you can't move without bumping into the Bluetones, Kula Shaker, Cast or any of the other purveyors of robust guitar, swayalong choruses, and melodies that date back two or three decades - and the Seahorses lack the ambition or attitude to stand out from them. Squire, via Oasis, has been too influential for his own good. Nicholas Barber

Can: Sacrilege (Mute 2xCD). With everyone from Blur to Michelle Gayle currently claiming to have been inspired by these illustrious Kraut-rock pioneers, the time could hardly be more right for this album of big name Can remixes. The organic, free-flowing approach which Holger Czukay and co adopted to their work first time around would also seem to encourage a bit of tinkering, Sadly, those celebrity Can fans - John Lydon, Mark E Smith, Julian Cope - who refused to participate in this project on the grounds that the originals could not be improved upon turn out to have had a point. The bulk of these remixes succeed only in flattening down the originality of the source material into a generic electronic dance mulch. Brian Eno, Sonic Youth and A Guy Called Gerald all subtract more interest than they add, and the best-of-a-bad-bunch bouquet gocs to Mo' Wax mainstays U.N.K.L.E, for staying true to the invigorating spirit of "Vitamin C". Ben Thompson

CLASSICAL

Thomas Ades: Life Story (EMI Classics, CD). To call him the new Britten, as some do, is unhelpful and inaccurate. But Thomas Ades is undoubtedly the most interesting, eloquent and (frighteningly) able composer to have appeared in this country for a long while; and at 25 he has amassed a striking catalogue of works with scarcely a splinter of dead wood among them. This disc - part of EMI's applaudable new "debut" series - amounts to a progress report, surveying his chamber output of the past six years (including music written while he was still a Cambridge undergraduate) and it leaves no question of his talent. Not all the scores are durably convincing: Still Sorrowing for Blu-tack-modified piano seems to me as emotionally "posed" as it did when I first heard the composer play it. But his song cycle Five Eliot Landscapes (with soprano Valdine Anderson) and the more recent Life Story - setting a seen-it-all-before scena of casual sex by Tennessee Williams - hit the mark dead centre. Brilliantly imagined; technically adroit. The EMI "debut" series is meant to be a collection of one-off projects, but this can only the beginning of Ades on disc. EMI has backed an obvious winner here; I shouldn't think the label will want to let him go. Michael White

JAZZ

Pregnant: Unusual Lover (Swarf Finger, CD). Remember Rip Rig and Panic, Bristol's influential avant- garde post-punk bohemian fringe? Ever wondered what happened to one of their main-men, Gareth Sager? 'No' on both counts, eh? Anyway, Sager's latest - with a band including singer Rich Beale, his partner-in-crime in Head, their gloriously low down and dirty parodic rock band of the mid-Eighties - is typically unclassifiable, and quite brilliant. Crusty samples blend with crusty guitars, even crustier synth-strings and outrageously cod-Jim Morrison vocals to form a surprisingly effective answer to the question of what can rock do now that its thunder has been stolen by the cynical bricolage of dance music. Get weird, that's what, and Pregnant's savage acoustic-guitar ballads, quaint rockers and visceral white-boy funk is deeply impressive. Although it sounds like they have taken every possible precaution against becoming popular, a few listens is all it needs for the noxious brew to leak, like poison, into your brain. It's also the only album I know to feature a song about nutter-novelist John Cowper Powys. Phil Johnson

Michael "Patches" Stewart: Blue Patches (Hip Bop, CD). Unassuming but very enjoyable retro-ish set from a professional R&B trumpeter (his first recording session was Labelle's "Lady Marmalade"), who at last gets the chance to fulfil his ambition to be a mid-period Miles Davis on the kind of standard repertoire once favoured by the master. "Stella by Starlight", "My Foolish Heart", "I Waited For You", "Alone Together", and Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way" are delivered with appropriate quiet-storm moodiness, and there's a vocal on "Fly Me to the Moon" that at last rescues the song from the vugarities of a thousand Sinatra copyists. A worthwhile contribution to the honourable genre of cool late-night listening. PJ

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