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ELVIS COSTELLO ``King of America'' (Columbia FC 40173; CD no. CK 40173) -- An LP full of delights, worth the effort to listen even if the overworked intensity of Costello's voice wears on you. True, Costello goes overboard. His deliberately paced version of the Animals' ``Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood'' sounds like he's about to choke with emotion. But then he composes himself enough for the folkish ``Little Palaces,'' a splendid Costello composition with his own own rich mandolin and acoustic guitar accompaniment. ``Brilliant Mistake,'' the first cut, sets a pattern for the album with its pleasingly direct tune and rhythm. Sometimes Costello's lyrics are a conundrum, but they include some brilliant images.


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``Homecoming'' (Spindletop Records STP-105; not available on CD) -- Saxophonist Harris and pianist Marsalis (yes, he's Wynton's father) really stretch their musical imaginations on this duet album. It's a startling mix of standard tunes and originals, including a free-style piece written by Harris, ``Ethereal Moments 1 and 2,'' that rides the fence somewhere between avant-garde jazz and modern European classical music.

-- Amy Duncan JOHN LENNON

``Live in New York City.'' (Capitol Records: SV 12451; not yet available on CD) -- This album gives you a feel for what happened at Lennon's last major concert, back in August 1972. You experience his humor, hear the urging in his voice, and feel the fervor of the crowd. Like all concert LPs, ``Live'' lacks polish, but it gives you the spirit of the event. Not all the songs appeal -- not even the ones that have become rock standards. ``Imagine'' is highly moving and performed with a powerful quietness, whether or not you buy Lennon's vision of how the world could come to ``live as one.'' Lennon wraps up the performance with a surprise ``Hound Dog'' and gives each phrase of this Elvis Presley song fresh, ironical meaning.


``Song X'' (Geffen GHF-24096; cassette M5G 24096; not available on CD) -- These two seemingly disparate artists prove on this brilliant album that they are exceptionally compatible. The collaboration is exhilarating -- more Coleman than Metheny in spirit, but definitely colored by Metheny's sensibility. The two are joind by Charlie Haden on bass, and Denardo Coleman and Jack DeJohnette on drums.


``Poguetry in Motion'' (MCA-36015; not available on CD) -- The Pogues may have created a new genre: ``folk-punk.'' This Irish-English group does its own irreverent brand of Irish folk music. Shane MacGowan writes all the material and sings bluntly and unaffectedly in a rasping baritone, backed up by six cohorts who sing and play bass, drums, tin whistle, banjo, the Uileann pipes, fiddles, etc. The Pogues' occasional verbal crudeness is offset by the sheer raucous jubilation of their music.

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``In Visible Silence.'' (Chrysalis Records BFV41528; CD no. VK 41528) -- Is this really art, or just noise? Actually this studio engineer's extravaganza from three prot'eg'es of record producer Trevor Horn contains some of each. It's an LP full of both conventional instrumentals -- a nifty jazz xylophone, for instance, on ``Eye of a Needle'' -- and sounds from a completely different context: synthesized voices, dripping water, knocking, slapping, and ringing noises. It can be powerfully evocative or powerfully grating. ``Paranoimia'' juxtaposes ethereal choir voices and crystalline church bells with deep breathing. While musically irrelevant to the topic, ``Instruments of Darkness,'' Noise's expression of dismay about South Africa, is the album centerpiece, an extraordinarily strong aural creation.

-- D. H. S.

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