Hip Hop Don't Stop: The Greatest, Various artists (Circa/ Virgin)

IF you don't already possess the first two pulsating Hip Hop Don't Stop collections - Ya don't? Ya mook! - this seamless 44-track mix repeats 20 of that pairing's 54 classics over its two-CD length. Thrill in perpetuity to Kurtis Blow's The Breaks and De La Soul's Eye Know! Express yourself in a frankly funky manner with NWA and Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Band! Of the album's two dozen new instances of old skool cool, Brand Nubian's Slow Down is a sparse arse-twitcher; Herbie Hancock's Rockit will have your pelvis in intergalactic spasms; I'm Housin' by EPMD is guaranteed to raise bungalow roofs and detach any living-room from its earthly moorings. In summary, if you don't buy this hip hop, ya might as well stop breathin'.

Elephant Show,

Arab Strap (Go! Beat)

WITH their first all-new release for a new label, the Falkirk dirty realist duo of Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton reveal themselves as the Blue Nile's muckier, more unravelled, and infinitely more world-weary wee brothers. They're far less insistently melodic than Messrs Bell, Buchanan and Moore, of course, and it's also hard to imagine the ever-courtly Paul Buchanan echoing Moffat's brusque address to an errant lover (''Just shut the f*** up''). But both bands evince an atmosphere of doomed romanticism, as well as digging groovy rhythms. They each like a good manly weep, too. Tears of rage; tears of sorrow; tears of vengeance. While the Nilies do it atop windswept mountains, the Strappers blub drunkenly in rain-lashed bus stops, mumbling into their chips. Join them soonliest.

Premiers Symptomes,

Air (Virgin)

Dreamily plangent - and plangently dreamy to boot - this seven-track collection documents the earliest flowerings of the loungetastic Gallic mood-masters. Four of these hard-to-find tracks were issued as singles in the years immediately preceding Air's arrival with the mega-successful Moon Safari album in January, 1998. Top tunes: the tinkling Casanova 70 and the breathless Californie.

Aye, as Edith Piaf almost said: ''Je regrette quelque chose.'' For if only some late-sixties TV wallah had thought to cast Patrick McGoohan as an angsty, existential private eye

in a monochrome series set in Paris. Sadly, they didn't,

but this mini-album nevertheless constitutes the

perfect soundtrack.

One From The Modern,

Ocean Colour Scene (Island)

I'd always reckoned that any band who searched for inspiration amid the B-sides of timeless hits by the Small Faces had to be OK. But then I heard Ocean Colour Scene. Over the past three years this clumping Brummie quartet have succeeded in deluding larg e sectors of this nation's youth with their tepid, one-legged, over-earnest Britplod.

Be warned. They're at it again. The same strangled vocals. Hackneyed guitar. Leaden drums. Cringe-worthy lyrics like: ''When the wind blows/ That's when you know/ That your nose grows/ And your face shows/ You're no-one at all.'' Ocean Colour Scene? ''Puddle Grey Shite'' is more like it.

Reviews by David Belcher