Rock around the radio

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Most of this 1998-99 series of live performances from KCRW’s (89.9 FM in Santa Monica) music showcase, "Morning Becomes Eclectic," might make Detroiters wish they could sweep past Howard Stern’s syndicated talk sludge and the self-assured repartee of Motown’s morning DJs to tune in to real music-oriented radio. But all envy aside, host Nic Harcourt’s selections here run from stunning to a few strays (e.g. a lackluster version of Sixpence None the Richer’s "Kiss Me"). Good thing there aren’t many of those low points on this compilation, which opens with the vocal magic of "Blewu" by Angelique Kidjo. The promising start doesn’t slide downhill until much later, doubling the magic with John Martyn’s eclectic blues on "Glory Box." Buffalo Daughter cuts across the seriousness with the bizarre pop tune "Socks, Drugs & Rock ’n’ Roll." That’s followed by Beth Orton’s haunting girl-with-guitar effort "Sugar Boy," raw and lovely enough to forgive her for titling an earlier album Trailer Park. The strange country sense behind the folkish storytelling of "Bears" by Lyle Lovett and the deep, hip boom of Morcheeba’s "The Sea" round out a great sampling of some of the most interesting music made in the past few years.

And as a bonus, it’s all captured live on two-track Digital Audio Tape by radio folks who at least do a fine job of pretending to care about it.

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