Supergrass makes music so effervescent and so effortlessly joyous that it's easy to take them and their skills for granted. Surely that was the case around the release of their third album, 1999's eponymous effort, which in its labored fun and weary ballads illustrated just how much hard work it was to craft records as brilliant as I Should Coco and In It for the Money. It suggested the group might have burned too bright and flamed out, but, happily, 2002's Life on Other Planets is a smashing return to form, an album giddy with the sheer pleasure of making music.
Waters' The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folk Blues, combined here onto one CD, were not exactly random collections of tracks – the quality was too consistently high for them to just have been picked out of a hat. Still, it was a pretty arbitrary grouping of items that he recorded between 1947 and 1964. In fact, they hail from throughout his whole stint at Chess, virtually; at the time these albums were first issued, though, all of the material on More Real Folk Blues was from the late '40s and early '50s. They didn't exactly concentrate on his most well-known songs, but they didn't entirely neglect them either, including "Mannish Boy," "Walking Thru the Park," "The Same Thing," "Rollin' & Tumblin' Part One," "She's Alright," and "Honey Bee," amongst somewhat more obscure selections. So ultimately, this disc's usefulness depends on your fussiness as a collector – if it's the only Waters you ever pick up, you'll still have a good idea of his greatness, and if you don't mind getting some tracks you might already have on more avowedly best-of sets, you'll probably hear some stuff you don't already have in your collection.
Comprising three centuries of noted composers' "minor" works, Lubimov's Der Bote (The Messenger) bears out its title with short, introspective pieces that capture thoughts of nostalgia, mourning, and meditation. The first work, C.P.E. Bach's 1787 Fantasy, sounds amazingly avant-garde, full of surprising darts and turns. And the experimental 20th-century composer John Cage's "In a Landscape" is an even bigger surprise. Instead of random keyboard plink-plunks, it's a diaphanous Debussyan tone poem, bound to startle party guests playing Name That Composer… –Dan Davis
Since the repertoire for cello octet is small and consists almost entirely of arrangements and new works, expect Four Winds, Conjunto Ibérico's 2002 release, to be somewhat eccentric and experimental. Leader Elias Arizcuren and his virtuoso cellists seek a happy medium between the intimacy and clarity of a much smaller chamber group, and the richness and power of a full string orchestra; but such a balance is hard to sustain, and their shifting back and forth feels unsteady. In Terry Riley's Requiem for Adam, the ensemble is pulled between extremes of symphonic density and chamber transparency, and this heavy arrangement seems only to distort the dynamics and textures of the original version for string quartet.