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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Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

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Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
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In search of Caribbean soul food

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Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

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America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone