Arts and Entertainment Dusty, Heard Them Here First

Various Artists, Ace: An entertaining and inspiring collection

My Secret Life: Rob Ryan, artist, 47

My parents were ... straightforward, fairly no-nonsense Paddies.

Album: Plan B, The Defamation of Strickland Banks (679)

Like Eminem, the rapper whose example first gave him the impetus to start his own hip-hop career, Ben Drew has devised a second alter-ego to work alongside his Plan B character.

My Fantasy Band: Bashy

Vocals - Bob Marley
When you watch his performances you see he was a genuine star. He was socially aware and all legendary artists usually stand for something or break the mould in some way. He really raised Jamaica into the worldwide consciousness.

Album: José James, Blackmagic (Brownswood)

Sounding more confident, soulful and sexy than on his debut The Dreamer, NYC vocalist José James teams up with hip nu-jazz producers including Flying Lotus and Moodyman on 13 original tunes where the minimal backings emphasise his debt to Marvin Gaye rather than Gil Scott-Heron.

Album: Laura Nyro & Labelle, Gonna Take A Miracle (Rev-Ola)

Singer-songwriter Laura Nyro was renowned for blue-eyed soul standards such as "Stoned Soul Picnic" and "Wedding Bell Blues" when, in 1971, she decamped to Philadelphia International studio to record this album of soul covers with the PI production team of Gamble & Huff, taking along her new friends Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash.

Teddy Pendergrass: Philadelphia soul singer who had hits with 'If You Don't Know Me by Now' and 'Close the Door'

At his best, Teddy Pendergrass was an unsurpassable soul singer and such performances as "If You Don't Know Me by Now", "Don't Leave Me This Way" (both made with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes), "Close the Door" and "Love T.K.O." will endure as long as records are made. Unfortunately, he often recorded mediocre material and spent too much time cultivating his "ladies only" repertoire.

Album: Various Artists, A Complete Introduction to Tamla Motown (Universal)

I'm not sure about the use of the term "complete" in the title, which effectively writes cheques which can't really be cashed by the content of this four CD set.

Ways to say goodbye

Corinne Bailey Rae's new album is suffused with sorrow over the death of her husband. Vini Reilly has recorded apaean to Factory Records legend Tony Wilson. The pain of bereavement can be heard in music, says Chris Mugan

Album: Mariah Carey, Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel (Mercury)

Once upon a time, Mariah Carey's albums had infantile titles like Butterfly, Rainbow, Glitter and Charmbracelet – sickly-sweet enough to be some pre-teen cartoon superheroine line-up.

David Van DePitte: Arranger of Marvin Gaye's epochal album 'What's Going On'

The arranger, composer and music director David Van DePitte played a crucial role in the creation and recording of Marvin Gaye's epochal concept album What's Going On.

DVD: Flight of the Conchords: Series Two (15)

If you've not heard "Business Time", a song vaunting the pleasures of getting it on in as hormone-pumping a manner as Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On", then check out the second outing from New Zealand's fourth most popular folk parody duo.

Spoof cinema ad leads to pants proposal

A romantic music fan hired out a cinema to screen his own spoof video as part of an elaborate proposal to his girlfriend.

Album: The Gossip, Music For Men, (Columbia)

If you're only gonna have one trick, make it a good 'un. The Gossip's template – Beth Ditto's almost absurdly soulful vocals set against an urgent rock-disco backing – hasn't altered significantly on their Rick Rubin-produced fourth album.

My Fantasy Band: Dave Matthews

Vocals Marvin Gaye

I don't think there's ever been a better singer than Marvin Gaye. I'm a fan of his from top to bottom.

Album: Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It (Columbia)

When he joined his brother and cousin in R&B trio Tony! Toni! Toné, Charlie Ray Wiggins sensibly decided he could do with a more exotic name, but only acquired it in stages, becoming first Raphael Wiggins before achieving a more persuasive cachet as Raphael Saadiq, the name under which he has become one of R&B's most sought-after producers.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Homeless Veterans appeal

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Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

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Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

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Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

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The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
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