Arts and Entertainment

Let’s talk about sex, baby – and nothing but sex

Album: Aloe Blacc, Good Things (Stones Throw)

Aloe Blacc, despite an occasional tendency to lapse into cliche, brings a welcome intelligence and individuality to his R&B stylings, drawing on the warmth of Bill Withers and the compassion of Curtis Mayfield for his more conscious-soul commentaries like the self-explanatory "Life So Hard" and "Mama Hold My Hand", a reflection on the reversal of roles required as parents grow old and infirm.

Album: Mavis Staples, You Are Not Alone (Anti-)

Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples: one is a criminally undervalued musical legend, the other is a criminally undervalued musical legend. Boom boom.

Guy Adams: America's 'swear ban' is scrapped. What a ******* shame!

There is sadness for people who, like me, have in recent years enjoyed the occasional spectacle of America getting its collective knickers in a twist over, say, Bono saying a vaguely rude word at an awards ceremony, or Janet Jackson displaying half a bejewelled nipple (left) for a fraction of a second on live TV .

My Fantasy Band: Candi Staton

'I have one of the greatest guitar players playing with me right now, Mark Vandergucht'

Album: Jamie Lidell, Compass (Warp)

For some reason, Jamie Lidell has opted to renege on the developments of 2008's Jim – most notably those regarding killer tunes – and revert to the glitchy, stripped-down electro-soul of his earlier Multiply.

Album: Eli 'Paperboy' Reed, Come and Get It (Parlophone)

On 2008's Roll with You, Eli "Paperboy" Reed came across like the male equivalent of Joss Stone, a young white soul singer with the requisite blend of fire and ice.

Observations: 2 Bears is a Hot Chip off the old block

Joe Goddard may have achieved critical acclaim and commercial success as a leading member of Hot Chip, but that is clearly not enough for him. The artist is a member of the Graeco-Roman party collective, put out a solo album, Harvest Festival, last December and co-produced Little Boots's debut album. Now he has embarked on an intriguing side project.

Album: Gabriella Cilmi, Ten (Island Records)

Oh dear. Having scored themost played record of2009 with the still-notthat-irritating "SweetAbout Me", the Italian-Aussie songstress hasplugged into her "innerdisco diva" for this, hersecond album. It's a disastrousdecision: moreTeena Marie than DonnaSummer; all backcombedbeats and 1980s powerchords.Ten calls to mindKylie's early 1990s discodabblings, when she maderecords aimed at crossingfrom the dancefloor to theradio, when her naturaltrajectory was alwaysthe other way around.

Album: Paavo Järvi, Beethoven: Symphony No 9 (RCA Red Seal)

In some interpretations of Beethoven's 9th, it can seem like three lengthy preambles to the Greatest Tune Ever Written, a sustained bout of deferred gratification; but not in this latest performance by Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie.

R&B love crooner Teddy Pendergrass dead at 59

Teddy Pendergrass, the seductive American rhythm-and-blues singer who continued his recording career after he was paralyzed in a 1982 car accident, has died at the age of 59, media reports said today.

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.

Album: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gershwin: Porgy & Bess, (RCA Red Seal)

Gershwin's celebrated "folk opera" has, through copious truncation, come to be regarded more as a musical than an opera – an attitude which Nikolaus Harnoncourt is at pains to redress in this vast 3CD presentation done with a vibrantly expressive cast led by Jonathan Lemalu and Isabelle Kabatu in the title roles. It's an exuberant experience, with all the emblematic arias handled perfectly, while Harnoncourt's exacting attention to detail comes through in countless small but telling ways, such as the use of authentic African drums (as per Gershwin's intentions) rather than bongos in the "Symphony of Noise" opening dawnscape of the final scene.

Download this: Summertime; It Ain't Necessarily So; 'Bess, You Is My Woman Now; Symphony of Noise

Album: Basil Hodge, Sound Reasoning (Seal)

Timeless (that is to say,emblematically 1960s sounding) and enjoyably unpretentious modal bop with strong themes, punchy choruses and spirited playing from the pianist/composer Hodge's London quintet of Tony Kofi on sax, Fulvio Sigurtaon trumpet, Larry Bartley on bass and the great Winston Clifford on drums.There's no real wow factorand nothing out of the box,but if you were luckyenough to hear this live ina club, you'd be in retrojazzheaven. It's exactly thesoundtrack a narrow tieand lapels ensemblerequires.

Album:Sergei Rachmaninoff, Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff (RCA Red Seal)

"A superb new recording of Rachmaninoff playing his own works...," claims the cover.

Heidi Klum gives birth to baby girl

"Project Runway" star Heidi Klum has given birth to her fourth child, a baby girl, her representatives said yesterday.

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Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
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The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
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After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

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
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas