Benatar can't do justice to first-rate blues materialTRUE...

April 12, 1991|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

Benatar can't do justice to first-rate blues material

TRUE LOVE

Pat Benatar (Chrysalis 21805)

There's nothing wrong with an established pop star wanting to strike out in a new direction. Linda Ronstadt, for instance, earned considerable acclaim for her album of Mexican songs, while Robert Plant's return to roots with the Honeydrippers was a major hit. Unfortunately, not every artist's attempt at reinvention pans out; some end up as hopelessly inept as Pat Benatar's botch-of-the-blues album, "True Love." Benatar's backing band (the redoubtable Roomful of Blues) is first rate, and her choice of material is excellent. But as a blues-belter, she's all form and no content, which leaves the album sounding about as soulful as baloney on white bread.

TIME AFTER TIME

Timmy T. (Quality 5103)

Just as synthesizers and samplers are slowly replacing the guitar as pop music's instrument of choice, so too is garage rock giving way to the home-studio sound of basement pop. Just listen to "Time After Time," the unexpectedly successful debut of Timmy T. With its tinny electronics and decidedly low-tech sound, the album has the same raw edges and unpolished vitality of great garage rock -- except that instead of being based on blues and rock, Timmy T.'s sound takes from house music and synth pop. Yet despite an obvious affinity for dance music, Timmy T. only really comes into his own with ballads, particularly the heartfelt "One More Try."

WHAT COMES NATURALLY

Sheena Easton (MCA 10131)

By rights, Sheena Easton ought to be an ideal dance-pop sex kitten. After all, she has model-quality looks, confidently choreographed moves, and (most important of all) an alluringly sensual voice. Despite such charms, there's something oddly off-putting about her new album, "What Comes Naturally." Although Easton makes the most of such innuendo-laden material as "You Can Swing It" or the title tune, much of the music seems assembly-line flat. And without any sizzle behind the singing, none of this seems to come naturally.

THE BYTCHES

BWP (No Face)

When music business moralists complain about "offensive material," what they usually point to are dirty words and sexual references -- both of which are abundant on BWP's debut, "The Bytches." Don't let the blue language fool you. For all their raunchy wordplay, BWP's raps aren't about sex; they're about power, and the fact that, as black women, Lyndah and Tanisha Michelle don't have much. That's what makes "No Means No" so insistent, "Wanted" so angry, and "F--- a Man" so funny. It's also why listeners should focus on what the group has to say instead of the language it uses to say it.

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