Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week's CD releases.

"The Best of Blues and Soul-From Urban Blues To Ghetto Soul" (Union Square)- This impressive 2 CD collection serves up an interesting blend of iconic tracks and relative obscurities, drawing on archive recordings from some of the leading lights of the blues and soul genres in the process.Luminaries such as B.B.King, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and African-American jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron all make telling contributions to the proceedings, the latter with 1974's "The Bottle," his sadly still topical commentary on the perils of alcohol abuse.

Al Wilson, "Spice of Life" (Wienerworld)- This easy on the ear package focusses attention on the effortlessly smooth output of Mississippi born soul man Al Wilson. He's best remembered these days for his 1973 U.S.million seller "Show and Tell" and the anthemic Northern Soul tale of deception and betrayl, "The Snake," which was recorded in 1968 and supplied Al 's only glimpse of fame and fortune on this side of the Atlantic when it limped into the lower reaches of the British singles charts seven years later. Both tracks are given a welcome outing here alongside a string of self-penned and essentially bland exercises in melodic soul.

Mischa Maisky & Lily Maisky, "Adagietto" (Deutsche Grammophon)- This excellent addition to the D.G. catalogue finds highly regarded cellist Mischa Maisky bringing his richly expressive technique to bear on a selection of seductively slow paced compositions from the pens of composers such as Massenet, Mozart and Saint-Saens. Instrumental accompaniment is supplied by Mischa's daughters Sascha and Lily and classical luminaries such as Julian Rachlin and Maisky's long term collaborator Martha Argerich, who chips in impressively on Schumann's "Andante Cantabile" to provide the highlight of the entire set.

Vargas Blues Band, "King of Latin Blues" (Warner Music Spain)- Spanish bluesman Javier Vargas is a close friend and musical sparring partner of the great Carlos Santana, and the similarities between the two guitarists' approach to music-making are reflected in every note and subtle nuance of this skilfully crafted set. Vargas' playing is at its most fluid and eloquent on the free flowing instrumental pieces which permeate much of "King of Latin Blues", and his musical flights of fancy are ably supported here by top notch guests such as Devon Allman and late great Chicago harmonica ace Junior Wells.