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Notable music for the week of May 4, 1990 -- Short reviews on recently released titles

Notable music for the week of May 4, 1990

* Lee Atwater Red Hot and Blue (Curb; all formats) Chairman of the Republican National Committee plays R&B. R&B loses. D (Greg Sandow)

* Bad Brains The Youth Are Getting Restless (Caroline; all formats) Live album from champion hardcore-noise-jazz-funk-reggae band. * A (GS)

* Beats International Let Them Eat Bingo (Elektra; all formats, bonus track on CD) Fun, fun, fun. Smiling melodies, and a brainy mix of styles. * A (GS)

* The Bhundu Boys Pamberi (Mango; all formats, bonus tracks on CD) African pop from Zimbabwe. No frills or glitz, but full of heart. A (GS)

* Lori Carson Shelter (DGC; all formats) Sensitive singer-songwriter who overloads her songs with verbal and musical detail. * B- (GS)

* Mark Collie Hardin County Line (MCA; CD, T) Perfect nuggets of blue-collar angst, from rockabilly to honky-tonk lament. * A (Alanna Nash)

* Dead Milkmen Metaphysical Graffiti (Enigma; all formats) Dumb punk humor. But they do a sharp parody of Yes — a band that, when you think of it, is really much dumber. * C+ (GS)

* Depeche Mode Violator (Reprise; all formats) Under their synthesizer pop lies disturbing emotional distress. B- (GS)

* Marianne Faithfull Blazing Away (Island; all formats) One new studio track, plus live recordings of various songs from her repertoire performed at St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. Searing, but so brutally monochromatic that their impact weakens as the album proceeds. Maybe you had to be there. * B- (GS)

* Fleetwood Mac Behind the Mask (Warner Bros.; all formats) More an anthology of solo projects than a coherent album. And it's bland. C (GS)

* Johnny Gill Johnny Gill (Motown; all formats) Yo, what a voice! One of the lead singers of New Edition has recorded his first solo album; he soars and even snarls. But he has no point of view — unless you count liking women a lot. * B (GS)

* M.C. Hammer Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em (Capitol; all formats) Award- winning rapper hits hard at community problems. * A- (GS)

* Tubby Hayes With Clark Terry The New York Sessions (Columbia; CD, T) The 1962 American debut of a gifted British saxophonist. * B+ (Gary Giddins)

* HR Charge (SST; all formats) Reggae with unexpected, sharp punk-funk twists, from a band fronted by the lead singer of the legendary Bad Brains. * B+ (GS)

* The Jamaica Boys J-Boys (Reprise; all formats) Street funk, rhythmic and sweet. * B+ (GS)

* Kid Creole and the Coconuts Private Waters in the Great Divide (Columbia; CD, T) Dance music never gets more lighthearted than this — or more brainless. * C+ (GS)

* Little Feat Representing the Mambo (Warner Bros.; all formats) Deft and rousing trip to Texas — and beyond. * B+ (GS)

* Mano Negra Puta's Fever (Virgin; all formats) French pop has been mixing African and Western dance beats, but here's a French multicultural band that can even play slashing, down-home rock & roll. Just don't look for any great evidence of brains in their work. * B- (GS)

* Sinéad O'Connor I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (Chrysalis; all formats) She transforms pop music styles as she sings about her quest for serenity. * A (GS)

* Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet (Def Jam/Columbia; all formats) Provocative, powerful album by rap group, which hints at troubling racial theories but overall raises issues that can't be ignored. A- (GS)

* Lou Reed/John Cale Songs for 'Drell* A (Sire/Warner; all formats) Stars of the Velvet Underground reunite with songs about Andy Warhol that — contrary to all expectations — don't have much bite. * B- (GS)

* Kimm Rogers Soundtrack of My Life (Island; CD, T) Another wide-eyed, folkish singer-songwriter with a little-girl voice. More naive than most. * C+ (GS)

* Jill Sobule Things Here Are Different (MCA; all formats) Tough-minded waif with a big, big heart. An impressive debut. * A- (GS)

* The Sundays Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic (DGC; all formats) British alternative band sails into fresh, quirky territory. * A- (GS)

* Cecil Taylor In Florescence (A&M; all formats) Pianistic pyrotechnics by an avant-garde virtuoso. * A- (GG)

* Texana Dames Texana Dames (Amazing; all formats) Family trio serves up spicy Lone Star stew. * A- (AN)

* Trip Shakespeare Across the Universe (A&M; all formats) Minnesota rock band with a va-riety of styles and a triumphant song about snow. * B (GS)

* Suzanne Vega Days of Open Hand (A&M; all formats) Extraordinary lyrics, not matched by her music. * B- (GS)

* Steve Wariner Laredo (MCA; CD, T) Skilled singer-guitarist highlights country jazz and rural sentimentality. * B (AN)

* Wilson Phillips Wilson Phillips (SBK; all formats) First pop baby steps by trio with famous parents. C- (GS)

* The Winans Return (Warner/Qwest; all formats) Full-voiced gospel, with an edge that can only come from the street. * B (GS)

* Steve Wynn Kerosene Man (Rhino; all formats) Deceptive album from the lead singer of the defunct Dream Syndicate: straight-ahead guitar rock that unexpectedly gives way to moody horns or punk noise. The sardonic paradoxes in Wynn's lyrics sound silly, though. * B- (GS)

Originally posted May 04, 1990 Published in issue #12 May 04, 1990 Order article reprints
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