REVIEWED! 1.5.01

RED LETTER DAY Chance Meetings: The Best of Red Letter Day 1985-1999 [Zip]

Classic punk is what defines this Portsmouth band and Chance Meetings covers roughly 15 years of material that encapsulates Red Letter Day's melodic cut and thrust succinctly in a 19-track package. Outstanding tracks like Rain, Wherever You May Run, Last Night and Pure boast the Day's tight guitar attack, fluid bass underpinnings and understated mellifluence. Solid. 7

SOLID FOR SIXTY The Secret of Magnets [Record Cellar] E-mail:

Drawn from label mates Frog Holler and Buzz Zeemer, Solid for Sixty deal primarily in tuneful country-inflected rock 'n' roll music. Evoking the likes of Neil Young, the Stones and the Band, this likable collection will endear itself to fans of the new americana without any difficulty. Look out for such fine concoctions as High Rise, Only One Awake, Twisted Time and Stop! 7.5

ELENI MANDELL Thrill [Space Baby]

Offbeat yet immediately charming, Eleni treads the exotic path with touches of Arabic (He Thinks He's In Love), torchy (Closer to Him), folky (Too Bad About You), surf-rocking (1970 Red Chevelle) and Latin (Never Know the Party's Here) settings to produce a unique aural experience. A talented prospect that deserves serious attention. 7

BEE GEES This Is Where I Came In [Universal] 

When you consider how closely the Bee Gees are associated with either the dreaded disco music or modern day boybands (what with the numerous Bee Gees covers flying around), the fact that Barry Robin and Maurice Gibb are still able to deliver an album that, for all its many flaws -  notably its frigid production, in parts manages to be different, intriguing and brilliant, is a laudable achievement. A tasty confection that proves decisively that even after 110 million albums sold, the Bee Gees are still up to the challenges that pop music poses. 7.5

THE FAST The Best of The Fast: 1976 - 1984 [Bullseye]  

Miki, Armand & Paul Zone didn't call themselves the Fast for nothing. From the new wave/punk of early songs like Boys Will Be Boys to the leather-jacketed goth of material like um Black Leather Jacket to the 80s synth-pop of tracks like Moontan, the brothers never quite knew how to keep still. This loving retrospective is testament to the Fast's continuing legacy and ultimate relevance in the scheme of things. 7

MELVERN TAYLOR The Spider and the Barfly [Broken White]

McCartney with a country bent? And why the hell not! Take for example, the simply gorgeous Blue Evening Dress for pure rustic melodic beauty. Or the folky edge of Alison  for heartfelt fragility. Or the breezy Forget About Me for pure pop bliss. For lovers of great tunes and that fine twang, this is a no-brainer! 7.5 

PETER SEARCY Could You Please And Thank You [Time Bomb]

Don't really know what it is but whilst there is much to enjoy on this album - hooks, line and sinker - I can't shake the nagging feeling that it is merely competent. Know what I mean? It's almost as if Searcy's competent melodic rock (which recalls Paul Westerberg's solo work) is just that - competent, and lacking that definitive spark. Still, songs like Furniture, Broken and Invent reveal a talent with the potential to make a difference. Time will tell. 6.5

ADRIAN SHAW Head Cleaner [Rubric]

Forget about Radiohead! Adrian Shaw is the authentic inheritor of Pink Floyd's progressive space rock legacy. Expect lot of acid rock guitar, psychedelic effects, phased vocals and offbeat subject matter. With dynamic freakbeat-inflected tracks like Staring At the Sun, Symbiosis, Round and Round & Same Old Game, this austere affair is treat for fans of Syd Barrett, Robyn Hitchcock and Porcupine Tree.  7

VARIOUS ARTISTS Guide To Entertaining [Break-Up! Records]

Two tracks each from the featured bands like Big Hello, Pat Dull and the Media Whores, Dirt Bike Annie, The Marbles, The Pop Quiz, The Revellers, Dogrocket, Pop Rocks et al demonstrate the fast and furious end of frenetic bubblegum punk-pop. Lovers of head banging pop fun will no doubt be bopping to these tracks for some time to come.  7.5

VARIOUS ARTISTS Shoe Fetish: A Tribute to Shoes [Parasol]

There's a confession I just HAVE to make - I HAVE NEVER HEARD THE SHOES! Whew! Glad I got THAT off my chest! So I suppose, this tribute album is the perfect introduction. So true. With songs like Too Late (DM3), Karen (Matthew Sweet), Turnaround (Bobby Sutliff), She Satisfies (Doug Powell), Found A Girl (Cloud Eleven) and so on, how could I possibly have ever resisted the myriad charms of the Shoes? 8