FOR UNLAWFUL CARNAL KNOWLEDGE
Van Halen (Warner Bros. 26594)
Unless you're particularly predisposed to junior high school sex jokes, it's unlikely you'll find much of interest in the lyrics to Van Halen's new album, "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge." But if you're listening to this album for the words, you've already missed the point. After all, the strength of this group has always had less to do with what the frontman said than what the guys behind him played, and that's as true with Sammy Hagar as it ever was with David Lee Roth. Thus, though Hagar's keening vocals may help focus the music's melodic edge, particularly on conventionally tuneful numbers like the soaring "Right Now," it's the instrumental work -- especially Edward Van Halen's virtuosic, note-splattering guitar work -- that ultimately ignites this album.
WARM YOUR HEART
Aaron Neville (A&M 75021 5354)
There are plenty of singers who could deliver a credible version of a funky blues like the Neville Brothers' "Angola Bound," and even more who could offer a credible "Ave Maria," but only one who could do equal justice to both songs: Aaron Neville. Thus, it's hardly a surprise to find him entertaining both extremes on his new solo album, "Warm Your Heart" -- leaping effortlessly from soulful grit to angelic supplication is something of a Neville trademark. But "Warm Your Heart" isn't content with confirming the obvious, and so the album's most interesting moments take Neville's exquisitely expressive voice into entirely new territory, from the R&B revisionism of "Everybody Plays the Fool" to the polished L.A. pop of "That's the Way She Loves."