ALBUMNew Kids On the Block...


November 30, 1990|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic


New Kids On the Block (Columbia 48959)

Remix albums like "No More Games" by New Kids On the Block are popular for two reasons. One, they make it easy for an established act to stay hot on today's dance-friendly pop charts, and two, remixing existing singles is considerably cheaper than recording new ones. But remix albums don't have to be rehashes; sometimes, they almost reinvent old songs. Indeed, many of the New Kids tunes on "No More Games" do sound better the second time around; "Step By Step" seems invigorated by its new house-style rhythm tracks, and the funky reggae remake of "Hangin' Tough" is a delight. But the synth parts added to "The Right Stuff" are wrong, forgetting to follow the melody, while "Please Don't Go Girl" just seems to sit there.


Garth Brooks (Capitol 93866)

Like just about every other male on the country charts these days, Garth Brooks gets by on grit and twang. His voice is dark and rich, modulating George Jones sweetness with Merle Haggard bite, and he obviously knows what today's country fans expect. Sift through his sophomore album, "No Fences," and you'll find all the hallmarks of modern Nashville, from the self-consciously clever wordplay of "Two of a Kind, Workin' On a Full House" to the jes' folks sentiment of "Friends In Low Places." But Brooks doesn't stop there, and what makes this album a cut above the rest are the extra touches, like the urban angst of "Thunder Rolls" or the quiet introspection of "Wolves."


Soho (Atco 91585)

It doesn't take too many listens to "Hippie Chick" to end up with high hopes for Soho. With its saucy, swinging pulse, ominously reverberating guitar (sampled from the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now") and delightfully droll lyric, it's a single that guarantees instant addiction. Too bad "Goddess," the Soho album, doesn't provide much of a fix; "Out of My Mind" may be lazily endearing and "Another Year" charmingly arch, but far too much of the album is given over to halfhearted production gimmicks and secondhand psychedelia. All told, this "Goddess" doesn't instill much faith.


George Benson (Warner Bros. 26295)

Count Basie always built his bands from the rhythm section up, which is one reason it's hard to imagine how the Basie sound -- much less the Basie groove -- could survive the passing of key players like Freddie Green, much less Basie himself. But it has, and no better proof exists than "Big Boss Band," George Benson's collaboration with the current Count Basie Orchestra. Because Benson remains a better guitarist than singer, he doesn't carry the band the way Al Hibbler or Joe Williams did, but he more than holds up his end. The Basie band is in top-notch condition, and even the occasional ringers, like Randy Brecker's New York Horns, stay true to the spirit of the enterprise.

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