LUCK OF THE DRAW
Bonnie Raitt (Capitol 96111)
After getting married, winning a bunch of Grammys and enjoying the comeback of a lifetime with her last album, some fans may wonder what Bonnie Raitt would have to be blue about these days. Of course, it has never been true that only unhappy people sing the blues, but those needing proof need look no further than Raitt's new album, "Luck of the Draw." Like "Nick of Time," Raitt's "Luck" leaves little to chance; the musicians are first-rate, the songs top-drawer, and the production is smooth without ever seeming slick. But when it comes to establishing a groove, this album improves significantly on its predecessor, fleshing out the likes of "Tangled and Dark" or "Good Man, Good Woman" with rhythm work that's too soulful and confident to be simply a matter of luck.
DERELICTS OF DIALECT
3rd Bass (Def Jam/Columbia 47369)
When the members of 3rd Bass make fun of alleged rap star Vanilla Ice, it isn't because they think white people shouldn't rap. After all, 3rd Bass' MC Serch and Prime Minister Pete Nice are themselves of the Caucasian persuasion. Instead, their complaint is more basic; as the rap "Ace In the Hole" puts it, "Ice, Ice Baby/ No soul, no soul." Fortunately for 3rd Bass, that's not a charge anyone would ever level against "Derelicts of Dialect." There are plenty of dope beats and smart samples here, from the coy Miles Davis quote that opens the album to the "Sledgehammer"-meets-"You Haven't Done Nothin" groove of "Pop Goes the Weasel." But what ultimately gives this crew the edge is its wonderful wordplay, whether saying something as pointed and serious as "Microphone Techniques" or as good-natured and goofy as "Al'z A-B-Cee'."