TIME, LOVE & TENDERNESS
Michael Bolton (Columbia 46771)
Blue-eyed soul singers have always relied on vocal mannerisms to get their point across, from Wayne Cochran's screech to Robert Palmer's grunt, but few have ever gone to the extremes Michael Bolton manages with "Time, Love & Tenderness." Apparently confusing emotional anguish with physical injury, Bolton sings as if he'd just herniated himself; hearing him moan his way through "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" or "Missing You Now," you'd swear he was lifting heavy objects in the studio. Still, that's better than his version of "When a Man Loves a Woman," which sounds a lot like Otis Redding . . . as impersonated by Sylvester Stallone.
HARD AT PLAY
Huey Lewis and the News (EMI 93355)
There's nothing terribly fancy about the sound of "Hard At Play," the latest offering from Huey Lewis and the News. From the bluesy grind of "Build Me Up" to the classic rock and roll styling of "Time Ain't Money," the songs sound as if they could have come from any of the group's previous albums; it's only when you listen closely that you notice such subtle modernizations as the sequenced bass in "Attitude." But it's precisely that sort of dependability that earned the group its audience in the first place, which is why the best songs -- $H particularly "Couple Days Off" and "That's Not Me" -- seem instantly familiar.