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Published: Sunday, 5/29/2005

CD reviews: New Order sharpens its edge with high-energy rock and roll

One of the premier bands to emerge from Manchester, England, New Order once known as Joy Division has been making rock and dance music under different guises for almost 30 years. And on the evidence of Waiting, the years haven t diminished its vitality or creative edge.

The group offers 11 tracks plus a bonus mix (the links between rock and dance made obvious in that addition) that crackle with energy from the opening Who s Joe?

With their blend of punchy rock and roll with pop hooks; a crisp, fresh sound; locked-in-the-beat rhythm section, and chiming guitars, the songs have an immediate impact especially the anthemic Turn.

The title track has one of the disc s most attractive melodies with a potent rhythm and great guitar hook. The first single, Krafty, crosses energetic electro and pop, while the band brings a dancehall groove to the ridiculously rhythmic I Told You So.

New Order is savvy enough to avoid a one-dimensional musical approach, adding a nicely retro 80s feel to Jetstream, and kicks into a dance beat on Guilt Is A Useless Emotion maybe the CD s best track, combining an energetic rhythm with a strong melody line and chorus.

Fittingly, the disc ends with an electro-trance remix of Emotion, pulling the dance and rock strands of the band s work together. Anyone who values solid rock and roll but rock that looks beyond

formulas and cliches will want to heed this Sirens call.

RICHARD PATON

John Williams is back with a triumphant sound that has been the hallmark of the other five Star Wars soundtracks he has scored and conducted. It s a classical musical experience that is both rugged and complex, wavering from tenderhearted moments to gutsy march tempos. One of the biggest selling points of this release is the inclusion of a 70-minute DVD, Star Wars: A Musical Journey, which takes viewers on a musical ride through time with 16 new music videos set to excerpts from Williams six Star Wars soundtracks.

TOM HENRY

Morrison eschews the pure blues and jazz revisionism of 2003 s Grammy-nominated What s Wrong With This Picture? and focuses instead on the sort of spiritual soul fests that hark back to the days of his classic mid- 70s works. All the hallmarks of Morrison s singular style are solidly in place on the opening cuts, soft ballads that he infuses with tasteful scat singing, expansive arrangements, and impeccable timing. From there he jumps into a little blues, country soul, and some pointed commentary on what s going on in the world. Magic Time has everything we have come to expect from Morrison.

ROD LOCKWOOD

Adam and Shannon, husband and wife, wrote all 12 songs here for a truly glorious showcase of songwriting and performing talent. They both play guitar he electric and she acoustic but it s the total package of the instrumental work, the lyrics, and their vocals that make this album a country delight. The songs embrace straightforward topics such as life s simple pleasures with mostly laid-back country/folk rhythms and a hint of blues. Outstanding accompaniment gives these tunes added depth.

KEN ROSENBAUM

ICE PRINCESS, Various Artists (Walt Disney) Disney offers wholesome, largely inspirational music set to modern dance tempos and pop beats. Among them is a go-for-the-gusto number, Reach, sung by new singer Caleigh Peters. The disc hits the right mark by being overtly pop without being too sugary. T.H.

TUNES, Sharon Shannon, Frankie Gavin, Michael McGoldrick, Jim Murray (Compass) Accordion artist Shannon is joined by Gavin on fiddle, McGoldrick on flute, and Murray on guitar for a dozen dazzling, contemporary tunes based on traditional Irish music and some contemporary Scottish pieces. For fans of upbeat Celtic sounds that showcase instrumental dexterity. K.R.



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