Compact Discs Worth a Listen

The summertime harvest is ripe for releases from blues to reggae.

From the catchy lyrics of reggae girl-group Worl-a-Girl to the scorching blues of guitarist Jimmy Thackery to dynamic rapper MC Solaar's French vocals, the following spotlights some of the most notable recent music releases. Some of them are debut recordings with US labels. Jimi Hendrix

Woodstock (MCA)

Just in time for you-know-what comes this audio, video, and laser disc release, documenting the legendary singer-guitarist's early-morning performance at Woodstock. It wasn't Jimi's best work, but Hendrix and Woodstock fans will want to own this digitally enhanced collection of 11 songs, including his infamous bluesy version of ``The Star-Spangled Banner.'' An informative booklet is also included.

Youssou N'Dour

The Guide (Columbia)

This African singer-songwriter's most impressive album yet. It features a crystalline production spotlighting endlessly energetic rhythms crossed with soaring melodies. N'Dour is achieving a popularity here that's rare for world-music artists (the album is sung mainly in Wolof), thanks in no small part to his amazing voice. The best cut, ``7 Seconds,'' is a duet with Nenah Cherry. Worl-a-Girl


A dazzling debut by a dancehall reggae girl-group (``world of girls,'' spoken with a Jamaican accent), lending a sweetness and feminist slant to a musical idiom that has mainly been dominated by misogynistic male rappers. The album combines stellar harmonies and catchy lyrics with a pulsing hip-hop beat. Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers

Trouble Man (Blind Pig)

Formerly the guitarist for the Nighthawks, Thackery has been gaining a reputation as one of the hottest guitarists in blues. In his second album, produced by Jim Gaines (who knows something about great guitarists, having previously worked with Stevie Ray Vaughn and Santana), Thackery demonstrates that the hype is justified. With a stripped-down three-piece band and a beefed-up guitar tone that leaps out of the speakers, this is scorching blues. In Their Own Words

A Bunch of Songwriters Sittin' Around Singing

(Razor & Tie)

New York's Bottom Line nightclub has, for the last five years, produced a popular and acclaimed series of evenings hosted by New York radio fixture Vin Scelsa, featuring informal performances and talks with notable songwriters. This fascinating release captures some of the best moments from the series and features performances by a diverse group, including Dion, Joey Ramone, Richard Thompson, Ric Ocasek, and others. Toni Childs

The Woman's Boat (DGC)

A song cycle depicting a woman's birth, life, and death, performed by one of the most powerful and distinctive voices in rock. It is a truly international melange, featuring Indian and African musicians, as well as backing vocals from the popular Euro-African a cappella group Zap Mama. The recording also includes exotic instruments from around the world as well as startling sound effects. A bit precious and pompous, and lacking the power of her first album (Union), it nonetheless has a certain fascination. Big Joe Turner

Jumpin' With Joe -

The Complete Aladdin & Imperial Recordings Amos Milburn - The Best Of Amos Milburn - Down the Road Apiece (EMI)

Two essential new compilations for rhythm-and-blues lovers, drawn from the vaults of two venerable * & B labels. ``Jumpin' With Joe'' features the legendary Kansas City blues belter in his big-band years, including many rare tracks and several collaborations with Fats Domino. ``Down the Road Apiece'' captures the best moments in the career of the seminal Texas boogie-woogie pianist Milburn (cited by Fats Domino as a major influence), who had a string of chart-topping hits in the late 1940s and 1950s. MC Solaar

Prose Combat (Island)

MC Solaar is such a powerful and distinctive rapper that you won't even mind the fact that he's singing in French. His American- label debut shows why he's becoming a major force, showcasing his dynamic vocal style combined with a funk-jazz musicality. DGC Rarities Vol. 1


A collection of 14 cuts by this label's current and rising stars that, for one reason or another, were left off previous albums. Among the artists included are Nirvana, Counting Crows, Beck, Sonic Youth, Hole, The Sundays, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, and others. Unlike some similar compilations that collect mostly dreck, this release features genuine quality material. Nu Soul Habits

Meant to Be (Motown)

Eddie Towns and Tonye Hilman set out to emulate the old masters of their label, Motown, (Gaye, Wonder, Franklin, the Isleys, and others), by consciously attempting to emulate their style without remaking or sampling. Although the key component, genius, is missing, they demonstrate enough talent to indicate that they may be on to something. This is soul music performed with heart and feeling, and a genuine flair for old-fashioned melody and arrangements.


Master Sessions Volume 1 (Epic)

Actor Andy Garcia has made a mission of making sure that the world recognizes the talents of master Cuban musician Cachao, first making a documentary film and now producing this American- label debut. A virtuoso bass player, as well as composer, arranger, and band leader, Cachao is also credited with being the co-creator of the mambo. This album features an all-star cast of Cuban musicians jamming their way through decades of revolutionary music. M-People

Elegant Slumming (Epic)

M-People is one of the hottest dance acts in England, and it makes its American-label debut with a stunning collection of songs that, unlike most dance tracks, feature real melodies and strong pop hooks. This is music that will engage you besides getting your feet moving, and lead vocalist Heather Small can do more than just belt. The group already has a smash hit, ``Moving on Up,'' likely the first of many. Felix Cavaliere

Dreams in Motion (MCA)

So many great singers are sitting around with nothing to do, and Felix Cavaliere, the founder and lead singer of The Rascals (``Good Lovin','' ``Groovin''), is one of them: His distinctive voice hasn't been recorded since 1979. The first release of Don Was's new record label (he also co-produced), the disc features 10 new pop-soul songs written by the singer in collaboration with various songwriters. Although none of the material has the power of his best work, Cavaliere sounds better than ever. Van Morrison

A Night in San Francisco (Polydor)

Recorded in late 1993, this two-disc set showcases the singer's blues leanings, as he performs a mixture of originals and blues classics with guest stars such as John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells, and Jimmy Witherspoon. Marcella Detroit

Jewel (London)

The former lead singer of Shakespear's Sister makes her solo debut with this collection of 13 shimmering pop songs that showcase her powerful voice as well as her talent for trenchant lyrics. Besides the originals, there's a powerful take on Sly and the Family Stone's ``I Want to Take You Higher'' and a duet with Elton John on ``Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing.'' Judybats

Full Empty (Sire)

The fourth release from this increasingly popular Tennessee quintet features its unique combination of folk and rock and lead singer Jeff Heiskell's sophisticated lyric writing. To demonstrate how cool they are, they even cover the Bee Gees' ``Jive Talkin.'' Jah Wobble

Invaders of the Heart (Island)

Bassist Wobble was one of the founding members of Public Image Limited. This release continues his recent forays into world music, combining African, South American, and reggae into a powerful blend, aided by guest stars ranging from Cranberries lead singer Dolores O'Riordan to dancehall team Chaka Demus and Pliers to Baaba Maal. Unlike the nihilism of his former group, his new work sparkles with hopeful positivism.

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