Album: A-Ha, Foot Of The Mountain (We Love Music/Universal)

Over at A-Ha's Norse Fortress of Solitude, confusion reigns as the trio try to come to terms with the "Sunny Mystery" of, presumably, why the sun keeps rising every day, instead of falling from the sky onto their heads.

Album: La Roux, La Roux, (Polydor)

After the hype, can La Roux live up to the hairdo?

Album: The Juan MacLean, The Future Will Come (DFA)

LCD Soundsystem may be defunct, but James Murphy's DFA label rolls on, and so does its flagship band's spirit. In, for example, the Juan MacLean, whose second album locks into a groove not unlike that of LCD's own masterpiece, Sound of Silver. Indeed, LCD's Nancy Whang is on board as Mr MacLean's sidekick, and the duo's vocal interplay on tracks such as "The Station" inevitably recalls the Human League. Lyrically, Juan is almost the equal of a Murphy or an Oakey.

Rowan Pelling: This way, ladies. If there are any...

Has a certain type of gentlewoman been rendered extinct? Not quite

Spandau Ballet - To cut a long story short...

Amazing what beer can do. Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet describes how the rifts were healed and the band got ready to tour again

Story of the Song - Spandau Ballet, True (1983)

Gary Kemp had long desired to emulate the Motown greats.

The Word On... Pet Shop Boys, the new album

"What the album 'Yes' lacks in dynamism, it makes up for in simple pop-song craft, and the set's ringers — the break-up number "The Way it Used to Be" and the melancholic "King of Rome" — are a match for any songs in their history." - Paul Isaacs, eyeweekly.com

Album: Pet Shop Boys, Yes (EMI)



Three years on from the splendid Fundamental, the Pet Shop Boys have ditched producer Trevor Horn in favour of Brian Higgins's Xenomania team, in what seems like a brazen grab for something a little more teen-pop-conscious.

But, while the results offer perfectly acceptable revisions of standard PSB tropes, one can't help thinking it's all a bit underwhelming. The Xenomania collaboration seems at best unnecessary: it's not as if they couldn't have knocked out a lolloping electro-stomper like "Pandemonium" on their own – or, for that matter, most of the tracks. The main difference is that these performances are both slicker and less memorable than one would expect, while the lyrics, with one or two exceptions, are forgettable rehearsals of romantic clichés barely tweaked into life by Neil Tennant's wry wit. The exceptions again focus on what's getting lost: "Vulnerable" finds him complaining, albeit mildly, about "surviving in the public eye", while "Legacy" betrays the kind of unease at modern life that simply won't register on technophiliac pop kids' radars. Hardly surprising, then, that when he starts unspooling fond childhood memories of Albion in "Building a Wall", Chris Lowe should offer the sarky interjection, "Who'd you think you are – Captain Britain?"



Gary Kurfirst: Manager of the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, Eurythmics and Black Grape

It's not easy being in a rock'n'roll band," Dee Dee Ramone said in End of the Century: the story of the Ramones (2003), the warts-and-all documentary about the punk group's two-decade career. Gary Kurfirst, their longstanding manager, was one of the people who made things that little bit easier for the notoriously moody quartet whose contribution to popular music was finally recognised when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Boy George, Pigalle Club, London

"I know sometimes it's easy to get confused," Boy George says, "but this is what I do." The darkness he has requested on stage has finally dropped, and he is singing "If I Could Fly", which twists into the heart of heroin addiction. In his make-up, beard shaved only this morning, he looks like a larger version of the old George the nation loved. His forthcoming sentence for false imprisonment will take its course, but by the time he has finished tonight, I've forgiven him everything else.

Tilly And The Wall, Matter, London

To celebrate 10 years breaking an impressive roster of acts, the record label Moshi Moshi held a party featuring live performances from some of their gang including the Nebraskan quintet Tilly and the Wall. The band, with most members in their thirties, have just released their third album, but so far success has eluded them.

Now that's what we (still) call music!

The 'definitive' pop compilation's 70th volume has become a surprise bestseller on iTunes. Tim Walker revisits the hits of a lifetime

The Pet Shop Boys/Madness, Heaven, London

The Pet Shop Boys' stock has been gently sinking for 15 years. Since perfecting their English art-disco with Very, the consistency of the sleekly subversive pop singles that made them dance culture's Kinks has been lost. How much Neil Tennant confirming he was gay also contributed to their commercial slide is a matter for their audience's consciences. But in Heaven, the often gay nightclub, the Pet Shop Boys' enduring quality and meaning becomes movingly clear.

Jamelia: 'Don't call me a celebrity'

The British R&B star Jamelia took time out to have children and now returns with her best album yet.
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

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Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

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French chefs campaign against bullying

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Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

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Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

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Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

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Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

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Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

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