Noteworthy

Rock/pop

The Who – Endless Wire (Universal Republic): The stakes are high for The Who. Or should that be, The Two? Pete Townshend (r.) and Roger Daltrey, the only remaining members of one of rock music's cornerstone bands, aim to prove that they're more than a nostalgia act on this, their first album since 1982. The good news: "Endless Wire" scores high on the melody quotient with hummable songs such as "It's Not Enough" and "Mike Post Theme." That said, one hankers for Townshend's windmilling guitar slashes and the anarchic energy of "Live At Leeds." Unexpectedly, it's an acoustic track, a rant against hypocritical priests titled "A Man in a Purple Dress," that cuts deepest. Grade: B
– Stephen Humphries

John legend – Once Again (Sony): John Legend, winner of three Grammys for 2004's multiplatinum debut "Get Lifted," has always been determined to do R&B just a little differently. Yes, his sophomore effort, "Once Again," brims with the familiar odes to love and its hardships, and yes, the album is dominated by piano-led soul grooves. But it's Legend's salutes to musical ancestors (think '60s soul and pop), and his knack for contributing some much-needed diversity to a genre rife with clones, that gives this record its wings. Album-openers "Save Room" and "Heaven" are well-placed crowd pleasers, while "Show Me" showcases Legend's velvet vocals. Grade: A–
– Elizabeth Owuor

Jazz

Michel Camilo – Rhapsody in Blue (Telarc): What makes this pianist's recordings of Gershwin singular among the plentitude in the jazz market? Camilo combines impeccable technique (he was classically trained in his native Dominican Republic) with a sensitivity to the kinds of jazz Gershwin listened to. This awareness leads Camilo to modulate his usual exuberance ever so subtly, just enough to reveal "Rhapsody in Blue" as a shrewdly constructed symphonic mélange of 1920s jazz motifs. Matched with the spirited Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Camilo brings a modern swing to "Concerto in F," and concludes with a thoughtfully improvised "Prelude No. 2." A masterly example of Gershwin performed with as much intellectual energy as adrenalin. Grade: A
– Norman Weinstein

Country

Montgomery Gentry – Some People Change (Sony): Contrary to the album title, little has changed in the country duo's peppy brand of Southern rock. And that's a good thing. Eddie Montgomery's smooth baritone fills in the low notes; Troy Gentry's energized tenor rings out the high ones, and frenetic guitars, bass, and drums do the rest. Tracks such as "Hey Country" contain singalong hooks sure to please the band's self-proclaimed "proud to be a redneck" crowd. The best tune, "Twenty Years Ago," tackles the evolving relationship of a boy estranged from his father. Grade: B+
– Vic Roberts

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