PRIVATE TIMES . . .AND THE WHOLE 9! Al B. Sure! (Warner 0) Bros. 26005)
It's easy to get the wrong idea about Al B. Sure! At first glance, he might seem like just another sweet-voiced soul crooner, the sort of singer who makes young lovers want to dim the lights and draw the curtains. And though there's certainly a lot of sex appeal to the sound of "Private Times . . . and the Whole 9!," there's plenty more besides. Like his soulful rethink of "Hotel California," a smoldering interpretation that captures the itchy desire of the original while adding a twist of its own, or "No Matter What You Do," perhaps the torchiest duet Diana Ross has sung since her days with Marvin Gaye. Hugh B. sure to hear it.
MAMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT L.L. Cool J (Def Jam 46888)
L.L. Cool J may owe his reputation to the fact that he can rap harder than almost anybody else in the business (check out his original "Rock the Bells" for proof that words can indeed pack the wallop of an uppercut), but he owes his career to the fact that he isn't afraid of the soft stuff. Indeed, some of the best moments on "Mama Said Knock You Out" come when he turns down the volume and lets his word play do all the work. Although, as "Mr. GoodBar" and "Milky Cereal" make plain, L.L. knows how to keep it hard even when he's being soft-spoken.