Rolling Stones (Rolling Stones 47456)
It's silly to worry whether "Flashpoint," the new Rolling Stones live album, is worth buying. Naturally, a live album offers only music, and like every other Stones outing of the last two decades, music was never the point of the Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour. Rather, the idea was to celebrate the wonderfulness of the World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band (TM); all else was just glitter and special effects. So it hardly matters that the arrangements are clean and uncluttered, that Mick Jagger cracks jokes between songs or that Eric Clapton phoned a solo for "Little Red Rooster." There's no good reason to own this -- unless you really want a version of "Sympathy for the Devil" that uses drum machine instead of congas.
Roxette (EMI 94435)
Let's get this straight from the start: Roxette is not the new Abba. Sure, the duo is Swedish, features male and female voices and has a knack for irresistibly melodic material. But Abba was a pop act, whereas Roxette -- as demonstrated on "Joyride" -- is strictly rock and roll. That's certainly true of the vocals; Marie Fredriksson's full-throttle approach adds real heat to "Hotblooded" while her incredible dynamic range puts power behind ballads like "Spending My Time." From the catchy chorus and crunchy guitars of "Small Talk" to the bass-driven bounce of "Soul Deep," "Joyride" is a trip you won't want to miss.