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In my media player lately

Led Zeppelin: Mothership: I've never been much of a Led Zep fan, and indeed have been puzzled about the amount of uncritical worship they've been receiving for as long as I've been aware of music. Mostly, I think, it's because I don't care much for Plant's voice or Page's guitar work most of the time.
However, when they got it right, they got some good compositions written and some fine rock grooves committed to tape, so this best-of selection spanning their existence as an active band recording in the studio is pretty damned good. "D'yer Maker" is still awful though.

Laïs: The Ladies' Second Song: When I first heard this album, I wasn't too sure if I liked it. While the Flemish trio deserved praise for choosing a new direction and not repeating their previous album, I found that the specific direction, with its electronic sounds and a-melodic vocal lines, took some getting used to. But get used to it, I did, and I now think it's a winning combination. Best album of 2007, in fact, edging out...

Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior: Thompson gets back to the full band sound and comes up with some exquisitely crafted songs that sound like they could have come from any era. In other words, it's a Richard Thompson album, so it's damned good. On the other hand, it's a Richard Thompson album, so "damned good" doesn't quite cut it in comparison with his earlier work, particularly Mock Tudor, my favourite Thompson record, from 1999.

Loudon Wainwright III: Strange Weirdos: see my comments on Richard Thompson's Sweet Warrior, above, only cross out Thompson's name and substitute Wainwright's, cross out Mock Tudor and "1999" and substitute Here Come the Choppers and "2005", and add that one or two songs on this record really get on my nerves, particularly "X or Y".

Queen: Rock Montreal: Gosh, there's some awful singing from Freddie Mercury on "Play the Game" - did he hate that song or what? Still, Queen do in fact mostly rock Montreal on this live registration recorded in 1981, and generally deliver the goods, though they have played tighter on other concerts. This was one of the last tours where Queen were a true five-piece, before Spike Edney was brought in to play keyboards from backstage. It makes for a leaner sound, especially on the funky, poppy numbers they had come up with for the albums Jazz and The Game. Recommended if you're into Queen, otherwise you might as well not bother as it's exactly what you'd expect.


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