RAGGED GLORYNeil Young (Reprise 26315)If ever an album...

RECORDS

September 21, 1990|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

RAGGED GLORY

Neil Young (Reprise 26315)

If ever an album lived up to its title, it's Neil Young's gleefully noisy "Ragged Glory." A masterful exercise in garage rock grunge, it's packed to the rafters with growling guitars, exhilarating bursts of feedback and the sort of loose-limbed arrangements that suggest a good deal more empathy than rehearsal. But Young balances his sonic excesses with some of his strongest melodies in years, from the edgy harmonies of "Mansion On the Hill" to the crusty innocence of "Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)." As a result, even the album's designated shocker, a curious confessional tune entitled "F*!#in' Up" (well, that's how he spells it), ends up as unexpectedly engaging.

CHERRY PIE

Warrant (Columbia 45487)

Let's face it -- the sort of low-level sexual innuendo that can be found in the words to Warrant songs like "Cherry Pie" or "Sure Feels Good to Me" is childish, unimaginative and, frankly, rather boring. But anyone who'd dismiss the new Warrant album, "Cherry Pie," on the basis of its lyric sheet is completely missing the point. Sure, there are some questionable phrases on the album; in fact, the satirical "Ode to Tipper Gore" is practically wall-to-wall obscenities. So what? Truth is, the only things that really matter on a hard rock album like this one are high-watt hooks and hard-hitting guitars, and Warrant has both in abundance.

ROOTS REVISITED

Maceo Parker (Verve 843 741)

As any serious student of funk knows, Maceo Parker is probably the most recognizable R&B saxophonist since King Curtis, having been both James Brown's resident sax machine and a mainstay of the Parliament/Funkadelic mob. But Parker is also something of a jazzman, and as "Roots Revisited" demonstrates, an impressive one at that. Although his tone can be a bit grating on ballads like "Over the Rainbow," hand him a straight-ahead tune like Charles Mingus' "Better Get Hit In Yo' Soul" and he more than holds his own, even against sidemen as seasoned as keyboardist Don Pullen. A pleasant surprise.

RETURN OF SUPERFLY

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Capitol 94244)

Back when the early rappers were boasting about "fly girls" and owning a "fly Mercedes Benz," their choice of adjective was a subtle tribute to the mystique of Gordon Parks Jr.'s 1972 film "Superfly." So it's not hard to understand why much of the music on the soundtrack to "Return of Superfly" is hard-core rap; the hard thing to figure is why so many of these raps ignore the bitter irony of Curtis Mayfield's original score, and unthinkingly echo the drug dealers' gangster cool. Fortunately, Mayfield himself returns to offer some cutting commentary, in the form of three lovely soul tunes and an inspired collaboration with Ice T.

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