SLAVE TO THE GRIND
Skid Row (Atlantic 82242)
As non-fans see it, heavy metal bands might have something to say, but who can tell with all that noise? That's why Skid Row's "Slave to the Grind" will end up preaching only to the converted, and it's a shame, because beneath the blaring guitars and screeching vocals, this band talks a lot of sense. Sure, there's a certain amount of girl-crazed bluster (as in "Get the F--- Out"), but there's also a surprising amount of good advice, from the don't-waste-your-life message of the title tune to the show-some-respect sentiments of "Mudkicker." Granted, the group's gift for aural overkill is not to be underestimated, since the best of these songs hit home like a speeding freight train. But the fans already knew that, while the rest of you wouldn't appreciate it, anyway.
Boyz II Men (Motown 6320)
Remember the old TV ad about Certs, the candy that was "two mints in one"? Well, that's sort of the approach Boyz II Men offers on its debut, "Cooleyhighharmony." Not that there's anything particularly minty about the album, of course, but there's a definite two-in-one twist to the group's sound. Cue the album's "Adagio" side, and what you'll hear is satiny smooth harmony singing, from the sultry groove of "Uhh Ahh" to the post-doo wop vocalizing of "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." Once you flip over to the "Allegro" tracks, though, things change dramatically; the harmonies are played down, the beat is pumped up, and the music kicks like a mutha, particularly on the new jack "Motownphilly." Don't think of it as schizophrenia, though -- think of it as getting two albums for the price of one.