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Music In Brief 4146

An EP released in the wake of Black Dice's itchy-ambient album Broken Ear Record, Smiling Off (Astralwerks/DFA) features three remixes that shore up a track given to wandering. The ho-hum DFA remix adds unhinged tambourine and a weighty kick, but a radical rework by Luomo dreams up a wondrous sort of howling cosmic disco. Hi-hats flitter through stringy clouds, while a bulbous bassline rounds out a planet below, and Luomo shows off his gorgeously blurred focus by isolating different figures from the original a few bars at a time. It's shifty and naturalistic, a tribute both to old disco-weirdo Arthur Russell and more exacting dance titans of today…

A loud, proud redneck woman who knows her way around the country-music charts, Gretchen Wilson does a lot of drinking and slinking on All Jacked Up (Sony). She vamps over what sounds like a stadium full of background singers in the raucous title track, and rips into prissy women who "never even heard of George Jones" in "California Girls." The ballads are mostly limp and soggy, but Wilson oozes personality when praising her ideal man's "Skoal Ring" and professing herself "One Bud Wiser" while drowning her sorrows down at the bar…

Often disparaged by detractors who write it off as a sprawling, self-indulgent mess, T. Rex's Zinc Alloy And The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow (Rhino)—reissued in a double-pack alongside The Slider, Dandy In The Underworld, and a late-era singles compilation—happens to be a very special kind of sprawling, self-indulgent mess. Angled as an answer to the soul and R&B heard on American radio, the 1974 album is bloated and brilliant, jamming strange bursts of horns and gospel vocals into spacey rock theater which seems to alternately embolden and bore Marc Bolan. None of it boasts the sleek rock slither of classic T. Rex, but there's a glorious lot to puzzle over for those who still find "classic T. Rex" wanting…

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An Englishman with a strange voice that probably shouldn't be half as affecting as it is, Robert Wyatt sings up a warm storm on Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Rykodisc), a live recording made in 1974, shortly after a fall left him wheelchair-bound for life. Slathered with keyboards and jazzy drums, the set features songs from Wyatt's secret rock classic Rock Bottom, which usually proves at least a little life-changing to those who hear it. The recording quality is excellent, and Wyatt's band sounds perfectly in tune with Wyatt's singular muse.

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