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Robert Gordon

All for the Love of Rock 'N' Roll

Magnetic Air

Buy if you like: Elvis Presley, Iggy Pop

If you've never joined the cult of Robert Gordon, this resurrected collection of material from his mid-'80s sessions with guitarist Chris Spedding could make you a believer. Although something of an anachronism even during his years as a CBGB favorite fronting the punk band Tuff Darts, Gordon has made music that has survived the test of time. Spedding's tightly wound guitar riffs here compare favorably to Robert Quine's best work with Richard Hell and Lou Reed, while Gordon moves effortlessly from the Roy Orbison-like vulnerability of "I Found You" to the blues-rock pleasures of "Attacked, Seduced and Abandoned." He also ventures into the richest depths of his baritone range on "Movin' Too Slow," which could have fit on a Bowie-era Iggy Pop album. The same goes for a sweet cover of Jack Scott's "Goodbye Baby." Gordon was famously touted as a post-punk Elvis Presley, and this release shows why. — Bill Forman

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R. Kelly

Love Letter

Jive

Buy if you like: Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye

R. Kelly pays tribute to the '60s/'70s soul he grew up with, turning down the sex and upping the romance on Love Letter. The artist slides smoothly through styles, from the Michael Jackson-ish "Not Feelin' the Love" to the doo-wop-inflected "Radio Message" to a remake of the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell Motown duet "Love Is," on which he's joined by K. Michelle. There are nods to Sam Cooke and Percy Sledge as Kelly delivers a record that's generally lacking the goofiness of many of his releases (although the Christmas remix of the title cut comes pretty close). He, of course, can't go completely choirboy: "Taxi Cab" returns him to freak mode in the back of a cab. But even that romp is tame compared to usual Kelly fare. Whether or not he permanently leaves behind the raunchy bump-and-grind that has made him a multimillion-selling star, Love Letter is a surprising, soulful and solid record. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Hex Hector

Allura

Nervous Records

Buy if you like: Todd Terry, Elements of Life

A lot of folks who remember Hex Hector winning 2001's Grammy Remixer of the Year Award have since traded nightclubs for health clubs, where this new collection should actually work pretty well. Allura's 15 tracks, which include a 71-minute CD-only DJ mix, are less pumped-up than tranced-out, a likely departure from his early days at New York City clubs like Danceteria and the Paradise Garage, back before he moved on to working with everyone from Madonna to Everything but the Girl. Here, he takes a more minimalist approach on instrumentals like "Oxygen (Space Dub)," and integrates striking female vocal performances that include Lisa Fischer's tastefully soulful "Love Will Know" and Dawn Hulton's edgy contribution to Dennis Ferrer's "The Red Room." None of these will make it onto a House Anthems 2011 collection, but that may be for the best. — Bill Forman

  • Robert Gordon, R. Kelly, Hex Hector

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