In 1992, Richard Marx went top 10 with ”Hazard,” an oddly spooky flamenco-rock ballad about a riverside murder. If Marx had built on the risks he took with that unusual hit, his new Paid Vacation (Capitol) could’ve been something more than the pleasant but undistinguished rock it is.
Divided evenly into airy croons that ape Bryan Adams and muscular growls with a galloping beat, Marx’s music is by no means original (”The Way She Loves Me” might as well be Foreigner doing Bonnie Raitt). But nearly every cut has an expert hook or two: There’s the blues harmonica on ”What You Want,” the weird clanging noises on ”Baby Blues,” a flowing guitar solo on ”Nothing to Hide,” and the hard riffs of ”Goodbye, Hollywood,” along with references to the ’60s Gene Pitney classic ”Town Without Pity.” It’s hackwork, but it’s some of the most skilled hackwork in the business, and Marx’s tunes deserve their radio time. Whether you’ll remember them after they’re over is another question entirely. B