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Top Picks: 'Eliza Doolittle' album, a documentary about Bhutto, Paul Simon's 'So Beautiful or So What,' and more

A self-titled album from English singer Eliza Doolittle, a documentary about Benazir Bhutto, Paul Simon's new album 'So Beautiful or So What,' and more recommendations.

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Singer-songwriter Paul Simon performing at a concert in Minneapolis, Minn., May 2.

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My fair lady

With a breezy style and hints of Motown and the Marvelettes, Eliza Doolittle's self-titled debut album captures a carefree spirit that's hard not to tap your fingers to. Just listen to "Pack Up" a couple of times and its feel-good vibe will have you setting off on adventures of your own. The English singer has met with rave reviews in Europe and is breaking into the American music scene in her inimitable spunky style.

Simon's 'So Beautiful'

The glowing reviews for Paul Simon's So Beautiful or So What are well deserved for his celebrated turn of phrase, his intricate harmonies, his jazzy rhythms. But what often gets overlooked is his guitar prowess. The jaunty bounce of "Rewrite," the delicate strings of "Amulet," and the rock 'n' roll chops of the title track suggest one thing: Simon is an unheralded guitar hero.

A Greek tragedy set in Pakistan

Bhutto is a documentary portrait of Benazir Bhutto, the first female leader of a Muslim country, who was assassinated by a suicide bomber. More than three years later, she remains a controversial figure, a symbolic metaphor for the struggles between terrorism and moderation in the world's only Muslim nuclear power. Airs on PBS May 10 at 10 p.m.

Riverboat soul man

While perusing the lineup for the 2011 Newport Folk Festival, we encountered an unfamiliar act: Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three. One listen to "Riverboat Soul," and we've got a severe case of Pokeymania! St. Louis musician LaFarge is a head-to-toe throwback to Depression-era ragtime and country blues, with a talented trio backing him on washboard, harmonica, and syncopated vocals. The songs are all originals but sound as though they could have been copped from old 78s. A new Jack White-produced album is coming in late May.

What does revolution sound like?

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PBS's "American Experience" tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its compelling music, which developed from slave chants, protests on picket lines, and the black church (such as "We Shall Overcome," "Eyes on the Prize," and "Wade in the Water"). Soundtrack for a Revolution, airing May 9 at 9 p.m., interviews such key figures from the period as Harry Belafonte, Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Young, and Julian Bond. Performers include John Legend, Joss Stone, and The Roots.

Culinary travel adventure

One World Vegetarian Cookbook, by Troth Wells, is a love-at-first-sight experience. It looks like your standard cookbook divided into starters, main dishes, salads, and desserts, but then it labels all of its recipes by country. You get whisked off to India via vegetable curry, to South Africa by way of corn fritters, to Thailand by tom ka gai, and to Turkey to learn about "Swooning Imam" (an eggplant bake). Anyone who appreciates vegetarian flavors from around the world will love these simple recipes.


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