The latest releases reviewed.
PUSSYCAT DOLLS Live from London Universal **
Spicy girls and, indeed, girl groups are back, back, back. The difference, however, between class pop acts like Sugababes and smart pop acts like Girls Aloud and the rather more brazen Pussycat Dolls is immense. It's all in the details: where Sugababes and Girls Aloud pout and preen as they sing songs of occasional pop excellence, Pussycat Dolls come on like their trailer-trash cousins, all push-up bras, stilettoes and various other accoutrements of male fantasy wish fulfillment. Here's the thing, though: the songs are very good commercial pop/r'n'b: I Don't Need a Man, Don't Cha, Buttons and Stickwitu - the latter effortlessly one of the best pop ballads of recent years. Sadly, the stage show is tatty, amateur and, questionably, overtly sexually provocative - like Hooker Idol as performed by Hi-Di-Hi summer staff. Extras include Meet the Dolls (well, hello Jessica!), behind the scenes footage (intensely boring) and a special section titled How to Dress Like a Pussycat Doll. I'll get me coat . . . Tony Clayton-Lea
VARIOUS From the Big Apple to the Big Easy - The Concert for New Orleans Rhino ****
During the weeks and months after Hurricane Katrina blew New Orleans apart, many musicians answered the call to rattle tins and raise cash for a city which had been left to fend for itself. Of course, musicians from the city were to the fore at these shows, their anger, shock and determination telling the real story of what was happening in New Orleans. A whole bunch of them fetched up for this all-star beano at New York's Madison Square Gardens, a night when emotions really ran high. There were many, many highly charged performances, such as Aaron Neville's stealing in alongside Simon & Garfunkel for Bridge Over Troubled Waters (not to mention Neville's wonderful Amazing Grace); Elvis Costello with Allen Toussaint rocking their way through Yes We Can Can; and assorted Meters and Nevilles lashing into a spirited Hey Pocky Way. The only shame is that it took a disaster like Katrina for people to realise and celebrate the musical treasures of the Big Easy. www.rhino.com