RALPH TRESVANTRalph Tresvant (MCA 10116)Even in its...


December 07, 1990|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic


Ralph Tresvant (MCA 10116)

Even in its teen-idol prime, New Edition was never anybody's idea of a supergroup. Since splitting up, however, the group has produced nothing but heavy-hitters: Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Bell Biv DeVoe, and now, Ralph Tresvant. What's their secret? Obviously, good taste in producers is part of it -- "Ralph Tresvant," for instance, leans heavily on the ever-popular team of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis -- but the real magic in these albums has been their ability to reinforce the familiar while simultaneously opening new ground. Thus, though "Ralph Tresvant" is expectedly heavy on sweet-voiced ballads like "Sensitivity," it balances those bon-bons with irresistibly tough tunes like "Stone Cold Gentleman" or the rap-tinged "Rated R."


Cinderella (Mercury 848 018)

Squawk-voiced Tom Keifer has never been anybody's idea of a Mick Jagger clone, nor has Cinderella, his band, seemed a likely heir to the Rolling Stones' throne. So how did Cinderella's "Heartbreak Station" end up sounding like the best Stones album since "Some Girls"? On some levels, this album simply extends the blues-based approach of "Long Cold Winter," buttressing that album's slide-guitar grit with solid, boogie-based grooves. But that's only on the surface; the album's real breakthrough lies in the writing. It's one thing to spin out a "Brown Sugar" variant like "Sick for the Cure," quite another to manage the sarcastic depth of "Shelter Me." But where the band really shows its stuff is in the title tune, which matches the unadorned emotion of country blues with the accessibility of a power-ballad.


Various Artists (A&M 75021 5339)

DNA's bouncy, bass-heavy rethink of "Tom's Diner" may feature Suzanne Vega's voice, but you won't find it on any Suzanne Vega album. Instead, you have to look for "Jam Harder," a 10-tune collection of trans-Atlantic dance tracks. By no means solid gold, the album is burdened with its share of filler -- for instance, A Certain Ratio's mechanical, forgettable "Won't Stop Loving You." But the set is definitely more than just a one-hit wonder, thanks to such lively, house-style workouts as Jazzi P's pumping, Chic-fueled "Feel the Rhythm" and Seduction's slinky "Groove Me."


Donny Osmond (Capitol 94051)

Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but for has-been pop stars, it's obviously dance pop. Just ask Donny Osmond, who continues his long climb to respectability with the beat-heavy "Eyes Don't Lie." Unsurprisingly, the most chart-savvy tunes are the ones Osmond himself had no hand in -- the treacly "Private Affair" and rambunctiously memorable "My Love Is a Fire" -- but that's hardly a black mark against the singer's own stuff. Indeed, "Take Another Try (At Love)" offers an utterly likable gloss on Bobby Brown's sound, while the title tune serves up standard electrobeats garnished with tasty, semi-metal guitar riffs.

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