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Music Round-Up

George Luke

We can safely predict that whoever wins this year's X Factor will be Number One at Christmas. What nobody could have predicted is that they'd be competing with Bob Dylan, Sting, or Andrea Bocelli, though we've seen the Jackson Five's Ultimate Christmas Collection coming since June. In the US, one side effect of 'reality' talent shows has been that several singers have launched careers in Christian music on the back of having competed on them. That hasn't been the case over here until now. Beverley Trotman was a finalist on last year's show; she's just released her debut album, Voice of Hope - a collection of gospel-tinged worship songs. Uplifting, but not earth-shattering.

Those more comfortable letting 'Whispering' Bob Harris influence their tastes than Simon Cowell will appreciate Portland's These Broken Hands album. The Solihull-based trio has turned out 11 finely crafted pieces of beautiful, soothing, thought-provoking music. Equally thought-provoking, but slightly more aggressive, are the songs on offer on Brand New Eyes, the new album from Paramore. Hayley Williams (below) is in fine voice, and the band continues to stand out from the teenage Emo herd.

Joss Stone, Michael McDonald, Al Green and Mavis Staples are just four of the all-star cast giving their interpretations of old Soul and Gospel favourites on Oh Happy Day. Compilations such as this are always a hit-and-miss affair. Here, Angelique Kidjo's African take on Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song' is definitely in the hit category. Sadly, the same can't be said for Jon Bon Jovi's countrified version of 'Keep the Faith'.

Finally, Speed Caravan's Kalashnik Love is a breathtaking rollercoaster ride through Arabic and North African rhythms mangled with rock, hip hop and techno, with Mehdi Haddab's electric oud wreaking havoc throughout. The Cure's 'Killing an Arab' never sounded this interesting before. 

George Luke