VARIOUS A Flavour Of The Label (Parlophone/NME)

VARIOUS Radio 1 Sound City (NME)

VARIOUS Independent And Still Taking Liberties Volume One (Mushroom/NME)

These are three freebie CDs as recently sellotaped to the front of the NME. "A Flavour Of The Label" is a Parlophone showcase, featuring 14 acts signed to the label and its associated tentacles. Whilst it gains several million points for the inclusion of a track from the last Sparklehorse album (still my fave of the year) it loses almost as many for the presence of a dodgy Prisoners Of Technology Mix/TMS1 Remix of the Beastie Boys’ mighty "Intergalactic": surely the purpose of including a track on a sampler such of this is to generate some kind of interest in the artist in question, rather than to cause the listener to run to the hills in horror as a once fine tune is butchered beyond all recognition. Elsewhere Spiritualized’s Jason Spaceman remixes Dr John’s "John Gris", but given Mr Spaceman’s legendary lack of work ethic his remixing involvement seems to have been limited to lifting all the faders up at the start of the track and, uh, bringing them all back down at the end. It does not sound markedly different to the version contained on the "Anutha Zone" album, in other words. Elsewhere Neil Finn, formerly of Crowded House, does his cheerful Antipodean tunesmithery thing on "Twisty Bass", and I come out in a nasty rash. One to watch: newcomer Liz Horseman does some fine ‘n’ funky like-Alanis-but-good stuff on "This Is Blue".

"Radio 1 Sound City" is, as the name suggests, designed to promote the recent week of gigs held in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne under the auspices of Radio 1’s Sound City event, which means lots of pale white boys with guitars, the most interesting being Gene (now there’s a phrase you don’t encounter very often!) with a live version of "Olympian" recorded back when they still had the potential to be a great band, the usual crashing, cacophonous noise from Super Furry Animals and Mogwai royally taking the piss over the space of a minute or so on "I Don’t Know What To Say". Best bit, though, and I start to glow every time I hear the intro, surrounded as it is by the usual suspects of straggly indie guitar bands, is the highlight of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s new album, the lovely, lovely "Hush The Warmth". And the Gorkys are probably the only (currently) unsigned band of the 16 on this CD...madness. Low point: I feel it my duty to report that yet another Symposium track has managed to enter my collection uninvited. Like rabbits, they really are.

Finally, and undoubted pick of the trio, "Independent And Still Taking Liberties Volume One" is a 17-track trundle through the territory that we used to call indie, courtesy of such famous names as Garbage, Nick Cave, Mercury Rev, The Paradise Motel, Babybird, Cable, Rialto, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion und so weiter. Best bit: undoubtedly Mercury Rev’s Cole-Porter-in-space "Tonite It Shows", a song that lights up your life right from the first few clarinet notes of its intro. Honourable mentions: Grandaddy’s Pavement-vs-toy-pianos sugar-coated loveliness on "A.M. 180" and Sound 5’s, "Heavy Transit", a tale of scally intercontinental drugs couriers approaching retirement, unlikely as it may sound. Low point: the Space track. Dear oh dear...