Celine Dion (Epic 46893)
Even though Celine Dion built her reputation in French-speaking Canada, the sound that emerges on "Celine Dion" could have come from Montana or Madrid as easily as Montreal. How so? Because like Gloria Estefan or Roxette's Marie Frederiksson, Dion has a sort of universal pop voice; strong, confident and very slightly soulful, it is equally suited to big ballads and dance beats. Dion's American debut serves up both, naturally, and though it's easy enough to hear the appeal of slow, sentimental numbers like "Where Does My Heart Beat Now," the album is most bearable when serving up danceable fluff like "Love By Another Name."
Mr. Fiddler (Elektra 60959)
As much as rap records like Dela Soul's "Me, Myself & I" or Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance" have done to remind radio listeners of the greatness that was P-Funk, sampling those oldies isn't quite the same thing as carrying on the tradition. Which is why hard-core funk fans will rejoice at the sound of Mr. Fiddler's "With Respect." Anchored by Amp Fiddler and his brother, Bubz, Mr. Fiddler delivers the same sort of deep groove that was George Clinton's specialty (no surprise, considering that the Fiddlers and many of their playmates are Clinton alumni). Consequently, these tunes are built around beats other R&B acts would have to sample, and that makes "With Respect" feel like the genuine article.