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Reviews of some new music.

Published October 22, 2006

The Who

Album: Endless Wire (Universal Republic)

In stores: Oct. 31

Why we care: Father Time has whittled the quartet to frontman Roger Daltrey and guitar god Pete Townshend - but on the band's first studio album since '82, the Who still sound BIG.

Why we like it: At 60-plus years old, the rock pugilists summon brains and brawn, poetry and punch. The themes are heavy-duty (love, loss), and Townshend even throws in a mini rock opera, Wire & Glass, which might be about rock stardom. Or insanity? I was too busy air-guitaring and marveling at Daltrey's vocal gusto to follow plot lines.

Reminds us of: Extended remixes of Baba O'Riley and Won't Get Fooled Again - Townshend, who wrote all of the 19 tracks, uses patches of previous greatness to illustrate the passage of time.

Download these: Mike Post Theme, Pick Up the Peace

Grade: B


Elton John

Album: The Captain & the Kid (Interscope)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Thirty-one years after his masterpiece, the Rocket Man and faithful lyricist Bernie Taupin concoct a sequel to the 1975 early-years autobiography Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

Why we like it: It's not easy for rockers to age gracefully. And it's certainly no cake walk chronicling the next three decades of a colorful career in a tidy 10-track package. But the 59-year-old Elton deftly borrows bits of rock, disco, country and pop to catalog celebrity excess, AIDS, getting older and his long-standing love affair with New York City.

Reminds us of: The days when EJ and Bernie used big bands, high-holy harmonies and string sections to create songs with grandeur and emotional oomph.

Download these: Postcards From Richard Nixon, Tinderbox

Grade: A-



Album: Songs From the Labyrinth (Deutsche Grammophon)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Rock's pedagogical hunk "discovers the music of Elizabethan songwriter John Dowland." Sound like a 16th century snooze? Hold on . . .

Why we like it: What could have turned into a Monty Python skit is quietly powerful, as the former Policeman turns Dowland's prose into hymnal glory.

Reminds us of: Midnight Mass

Download these: Flow My Tears (Lachrimae), Have You Seen the Bright Lily Grow

Grade: B


Eric Clapton & J.J. Cale

Album: The Road to Escondido (Reprise)

In stores: Nov. 7

Why we care: Cale wrote After Midnight and Cocaine. Clapton turned them into rock history. That's a power couple.

Why we like it: Okie-born Cale's Dust Bowl blues and Slowhand's slick licks make a smooth mix of 10-gallon cool.

Reminds us of: High Noon at Stonehenge

Download these: Danger, Sporting Life Blues

Grade: B+

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Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or 727 893-8467. His blog is at blogs.tampabay. com/popmusic.