Lisa Fischer's album sizzles with heat that's 'So Intense'

RECORDS

May 31, 1991|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

SO INTENSE

Lisa Fischer (Elektra 60889)

If, after hearing Lisa Fischer's debut, "So Intense," you find yourself thinking you've heard that voice before, odds are you have. A veteran studio singer, Fischer has sung with the best, backing up everyone from Luther Vandross to the Rolling Stones. Vandross returns the favor by producing four tracks on the album, but it's clearly Fischer's voice that carries the album. Strong as her voice is, though, Fischer prefers to finesse her performances; obviously, she's the sort of singer who'd rather smolder than burn. But that's precisely what puts the heat into this album, from the sassy swing of "Some Girls" to the sultry intensity of "How Can I Ease the Pain."

BANG BANG

Kelly Willis (MCA 10141)

In country music, it doesn't really matter how well you can carry a tune -- it's where you take it that counts. Take Kelly Willis, for example. Sure, she sings well, and is blessed with a dark, honeyed tone that recalls Linda Ronstadt's early charm, but the real kick in her second album, "Bang Bang," comes from the way she uses that voice. It isn't just that she rips through the rockabilly title tune with the same aplomb she applies to the sweet, Mexicali cadences of "The Heart That Love Forgot" -- what makes this album so exceptional is the ease with which Willis makes both sound like separate threads in the same fabric. Definitely a star in the making.

MONSTER ON A LEASH

Tower of Power (Epic 47387)

Most people think it's the horn section that gives the Tower of Power its punch -- and, frankly, most people are dead wrong. For, as "Monster on a Leash" proves, it's not the band's brassy bluster that makes it worth hearing, but the rhythm section's refried soul grooves. That's certainly true of the album's uptempo numbers; cue up "Attitude Dance" or "Funk the Dumb Stuff," and it's the chemistry between the bass and drums that pushes the music along. But the ballads are just as rhythm driven, giving singer Tom Bowes ample opportunity to show he has soul and knows how to use it. Add in a surprisingly solid set of songs, and "Monster on a Leash" sounds like this band's best effort since "Back to Oakland."

JUST ONE NIGHT

Samantha Fox (Jive 1357)

If there were such a thing as an award for the year's dumbest song title, Samantha Fox's latest single would win hands down. After all, how could anyone hope to top the likes of "(Hurt Me! Hurt Me!) But the Pants Stay On"? She certainly can't, and that's why "Just One Night" fizzles after the first cut -- not even the high-octane camp of her disco medley (a pairing of "More More More" and "Love to Love You Baby" that leaves the listener yearning for the relative restraint of Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes) can live up to the promise of an album-opener like that.

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