Kevin Bryan has the lowdown on what's hot and what's not among the latest music releases.

John Hiatt: Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns ****

INDIANA born Hiatt has been delighting his discerning coterie of devotees with his gritty and heartfelt musings on the human condition since the early seventies, but he remains very much a musician's musician, and the release of Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns seems most unlikely to propel him to belated but essentially well deserved rock stardom.

John's distinctively rough hewn vocals are applied to some of the brooding character sketches which have become his musical trademark and the finished product is a soulful gem of the highest order, peaking with stand-out tracks such as Adios to California, I Love That Girl and Detroit Made.

Out now (New West NW 6206: £7.99)

Chris Spedding: Pearls ****

THIS most versatile of British session guitarists has seen service with everyone from John Cale and Roxy Music to The Wombles over the years and his solo career also seemed set for great things when the catchy Motorbikin' charted in 1975.

In reality Chris was probably always far too much of a musical maverick to ever be able to harbour any hopes of achieving lasting commercial success, but he remains one of our most accomplished musical talents nonetheless, and Pearls finds Spedding dabbling with jazz, rock and Americana with typically compelling results.

Not Luv, Muddy Waters' Louisiana Blues and the enigmatic title track are the best of the bunch.

Out now (Repertoire REPUK 1144: £11.82)

Sir Adrian Boult Conducts Elgar ***

THIS inexpensive archive anthology is dominated by recordings made by conductor Boult and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra between 1949 and 1956, including performances of many of Elgar's most popular musical creations.

The Enigma Variations, Pomp and Circumstance Marches and Cockaigne Overture are all given an airing, and the compilers of this fine 5-CD set have also found space for a splendid 1945 recording of the composer's much-loved Cello Concerto featuring Pablo Casals and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Out now (Regis RRC 5010: £11.54)

Mundy: Shuffle ***

EDMUND Enright's new Camcor CD finds the Irish singer-songwriter paying tribute to some of the American writers who provided him with inspiration during his formative years.

Mundy breathes new life into some classic material in the process, tackling Dylan's Buckets of Rain, John Prine's Angel From Montgomery and Paul Simon's Kathy's Song alongside slightly less familiar offerings from the repertoires of acts such as Sparklehorse and The Replacements.

Released on November 14 (Camcor CCR 21: £9.84)

Bobby Womack: Soul Sides ***

THIS new 2-CD set brings together all the key recordings that veteran soulman Womack made for the Minit and United Artists labels during the period between 1968 and 1975.

The distinctively visceral and intense self-penned songs which became Bobby's trademark predictably dominate the proceedings but the former Sam Cooke guitarist also chips in with some very surprising cover versions, including soulful re-workings of everything from Tony Bennett's I Left My Heart in San Francisco to the Mamas and Papas' California Dreamin.

Out now (Metro METRSL 027: £3.99)