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Google Doodle celebrates the Year of the Horse

Jazz singer conquers Russia's racial bigotry

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, give or take a week or two, Tim Strong had a chance meeting with Aretha Franklin. He was an awkward and unknown 18-year-old, one of nine children from a blue-collar family in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. She was... well, the Queen of Soul.

Pop: The heart and soul of somebody else's gal

Jocelyn Brown has the voice of a diva and the career of a backing singer. But now she is reclaiming her star role. By Geoff Brown

POP: ALBUM REVIEWS

Supernaturals: A Tune for a Day (Food, below) The fact that the Supernaturals have an unhealthy appetite for limited-framework, new-wave guitars is just one of the reasons why this debut album so often slides into drabness. The Supernaturals palette is mostly jovial rock, with bounce in the melodies, but the songs belly-flop because they don't have the spark of class that, say, Dodgy found in themselves. An exception to this is the angry gem "Motorcycle Parts", but the Supernaturals are forever destined to lurk at the shallow end of sunny Brit rock. H

Pop music: A spiced-up supernova

Who do you think you are? Oasis? No, say Embrace. They're better than that.

Network: Signal failure caused by the wrong type of spam

Spammers, in my experience, are a larcenous bunch, not content to be merely creepy

Music: Give my regards to Broadway

It's been a while since Kim Criswell gave her regards to Broadway. In another time, another place, she might have been big there. Hell, she might have been Ethel Merman. The comparison has been drawn before. Actually, the voice is quite different - sleeker, sharper, subtler. But the attitude... this lady's feisty, this lady's full-on, this lady's not for turning. One day she'll... "have the whole world on a plate"? Well, that's how the song goes, and she sings it like she knows the outcome.

Film: Landis turns a paler shade of Blue

The big picture

ARTS: CINEMA: The Blues Brothers just get younger

Despite the death of John Belushi, John Landis hasn't given up on the Blues Brothers. Nicholas Barber meets the director with a mission to entertain

Andy Gill's album round-up

GARBAGE Version 2.0 (Mushroom MUSH 29CD)

Rock: Music news

A grim reminder

Luciano Pavarotti named Person of the Year

Luciano Pavarotti with Aretha Franklin and members of the group Boyz II Men in New York yesterday, after the

Records: A tribute to bring on the tears

VARIOUS ARTISTS Diana, Princess Of Wales: Tribute (V2 VVR1001052)

Letters: Black Angels

Sir: Trevor Phillips ("Black Angels?", 15 November) mentioned Aretha Franklin and her right to a place in heaven. He ought also to have mentioned Roberta Flack. Way back in 1969 her debut album First Take included the song "Angelitos Negros", and she is quoted in the sleeve notes: "Painters, why do you always paint white virgins? Paint beautiful black angels."

Obituary: Lawrence Payton

Inclusion on the golden oldie format has spoiled many a record for the average listener, but with their breadth and their bounce "I Can't Help Myself", "It's the Same Old Song", "Reach Out (I'll Be There)", "Standing in the Shadows of Love", "Bernadette", "When She Was My Girl" and "Irresistible" by the Four Tops always sound fresh and vibrant and never fail to entice.

Eternal: God's girls?

Eternal dress to kill, sing about the plight of humanity and give thanks to the Lord. A typical touch of pop hypocrisy? Not at all, argues Emma Forrest. Like other divas, they're just praying to keep body and soul together
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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
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Panto dames: before and after

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Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

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The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
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The male exhibits strange behaviour

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Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

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From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

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A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

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Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

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