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Noteworthy CDs

Notable CDs | Five new releases from rock 'n' roll veterans reviewed by Arsenio Orteza

Fractured Mindz

Style: Electronic guitar rock by the second-most-famous ex-Kink.

Worldview: "I went down to the river / to rest my weary head. / I prayed to the Lord, / and this is what he said. / He says, 'You fight and you fight [. . .] and you must never give up hope.'"

Overall quality: Benefits from the secondhand poignancy inevitable in recordings that are Davies' first since suffering a serious stroke three years ago.

Dylanesque

Style: Ten mostly well-known Bob Dylan songs (and one Dylan-identified traditional folk-blues number) as performed by the erstwhile lead singer of Roxy Music.

Worldview: Apparently that Dylan's best years were 1962-1968, as only three of these songs were composed after Woodstock I.

Overall quality: Suffers from an over-familiarity resulting from Ferry's covering of Dylan songs that have for the most part already been covered by equally talented interpreters.

The Pigeons Couldn't Sleep

Style: Gritty rock 'n' roll singer-songwriting on the CD; rockumentary verité in the accompanying DVD Rock God.

Cautions: Semi-expurgated R-rated language (the DVD).

Worldview: "Forgive me if I've lost my sense of gratitude" (Pigeons); that one must pursue his "dreams" because where there is no vision, a person perishes (Rock God).

Overall quality: The film illuminates the music more than the other way around, but either way they're a powerful one-two punch.

At My Age

Style: The latest installment in Nick Lowe's exploration of acoustic, late-night country, soul, and pop.

Worldview: That it's not only possible to age gracefully from the over-excitability of youth into maturity and wisdom where love is concerned but also desirable.

Overall quality: Lowe, whose 1970s/1980s pub-rocking power-pop often included everything but the proverbial kitchen sink, continues to make a convincing case that less, both aurally and verbally, is more.

Planet Earth

Style: Rock, soul, psychedelia, and various mixtures thereof.

Cautions: Lascivious braggadocio ("Mr. Goodnight," "The One U Wanna C").

Worldview: Make love, not war.

Overall quality: Except for its paucity of dirty lyrics, Planet Earth is an ordinary album by Prince standards-so ordinary, in fact, that Prince pulled the unusual (and record-company-enraging) publicity stunt of including free copies in newspapers and giving free copies to concertgoers in England.

Spotlight

Like many rock musicians who've been releasing albums and touring for over 20 years, Peter Himmelman has seen both his CD sales and his concert audiences gradually shrink. As his new album The Pigeons Couldn't Sleep (Himmasongs/Thirty Tigers) proves, however, his craftsmanship remains undiminished. A scholarly and observant Jew known for keeping the Sabbath holy (he hasn't performed on a Friday night in two decades), Himmelman artfully irrigates the lyrics of even his hardest-rocking songs with a subtle but unmistakable spirituality. "Vengeance is a must if you want to know the Lord," he sings at one point. "Every fiery angel knows how to wield the sword."

"It struck me that if a person wanted to be just and righteous in this world," Himmelman told WORLD, "it's not a passive position. You have to know how to defend yourself very well. When people think about kindness, they always think about passivity, the gentleness of it. But I think that there needs to be something to reinforce that as well, some strength."

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