Al B. Sure! (Warner 0...


October 26, 1990|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

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.

RECYCLER Z.Z. Top (Warner Bros. 26265)

It takes more than nerve for Z.Z. Top to churn out yet another album's worth of hi-tech boogie and then call the thing "Recycler" -- it takes a sense of humor. But the jokes wear distressingly thin this time around, if only because songs like "Penthouse Eyes" or "Give It Up" can't quite match the surreal wit of an oldie like "Cheap Sunglasses." In the end, it's the band's undeniable feel for the blues -- particularly in tunes like "My Head's In Mississippi" -- that ultimately keeps "Recycler" out the trash bin.

CHANGE OF SEASON Daryl Hall John Oates (Arista 8614)

For some pop groups, slipping off the charts is like tumbling though a trap door: One wrong step, and instant oblivion. That's what seemed to have happened to Hall & Oates a few years back, and though the duo -- now using the unpunctuated billing Daryl Hall John Oates -- is on the comeback trail with "Change of Season," it's going to be a tough climb back to the top. How come? Because despite the enduring appeal of their voices, the duo seems unable to find a sound that works, and that makes even the best tunes here -- like "So Close" and the title tune -- fall flat.


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