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New and old, two for the ages

November 03, 2002|Robert Hilburn | Times Staff Writer

Calendar's guide to a healthy pop music diet on a monthly budget of $50 is distinguished this time by a Beck album that may end up as the best of the year and an Elvis Presley compilation that is among the half-dozen most notable albums ever.


Beck's "Sea Change" (Geffen). Every decade produces a handful of albums so personal and poignant that they stick with you forever. Here's one -- a story of loss and recovery that reflects the ache of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."

Elvis Presley's "Sunrise" (RCA). "Elvis: 30 No. 1 Hits" may have topped the charts, but this survey of Elvis' earlier days on Sun Records (complete with live and alternate versions) is as close as you can come on disc to the birth of rock 'n' roll as we know it.

Ryan Adams' "Demolition" (Lost Highway). This informal batch of demo tracks from four unreleased albums melds together beautifully, giving us the most intimate and fully satisfying solo package from the young hotshot alt-country singer-songwriter.


The Streets' "Original Pirate Material" (Vice). Who would have figured the freshest rap voice of the year would come from London? Mike Skinner, the 23-year-old known as the Streets, deals in street-level storytelling that is as distinctive as it is urgent.

Mali Music's "Mali Music" (Astralwerks/Honest Jon's). Blur's Damon Albarn gives us a scrapbook of the music he recorded with local musicians in Mali and then augmented with various contemporary touches back in England. The Mali Visit Social Club?

Hot Hot Heat's "Make Up the Breakdown" (Sub Pop). Here's the ideal opening act for the Hives, and they're not even Swedish. The Canadian foursome's excitable and accessible punk style is extra-furious and extra-fun. Steve Bays sounds like David Bowie on fast-forward.

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