Kix (East/West America 91714)
Although the basic components of hard rock seem simplenough -- strong melodies, stinging guitar riffs and an insistent rhythm section -- bringing those elements together successfully takes some doing. So how is it that Kix makes it all seem so easy? Crank up "Hot Wire," the quintet's latest album, and it immediately sounds like wall-to-wall hits; from the chant-along chorus of "Girl Money" to the gutsy grind of "Bump the La La," there hasn't been a hard rock album this consistently tuneful since AC/DC's "Back in Black." Yet there's never a hint of calculation or condescension to these songs, making this the best reason yet for a rock fan to go out and get wired.
James Brown (Scotti Bros. 72392 75225)
When James Brown said the first thing he was going to dafter getting out of jail was head for a recording studio, he wasn't kidding. Released only a few months after he was, Brown's "Love Over-Due" may strike some fans as being a bit premature, but only until they hear it. Spotty in places, the album is least convincing on ballads, as if Brown's new band hasn't quite settled into the deep, soulful groove that powered his classic slow songs. But the funk numbers more than make up, particularly "Dance, Dance, Dance to the Funk" and the soulful "Later for Dancing."
D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Jive 1392)
After the Fresh Prince went Hollywood, trading his streecredibility for the sitcom success of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," most fans figured that, as a rap team, D. J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were finished. Not quite; in fact, the duo's latest effort, "Homebase," may be the best rap comeback since L. L. Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out." Credit for much of that belongs with "Summertime," a lazily evocative rap that shows off the team's old-school roots while making the most of the Fresh fTC Prince's wordplay. But this is no one-hit wonder, thanks to
equally imaginative raps like "Ring My Bell," "A Dog Is a Dog" and the nastily amusing "You Saw My Blinker."
GOLDEN THROATS 2
Various Artists (Rhino 71007)
Arthur Conley's hit "Sweet Soul Music" might have asked thquestion, "Do you like good music?" but "Golden Throats 2" is an album that wonders if you like bad music. Not "bad" in the slang sense, either; what this album offers is a tour through the truly terrible. Ever heard Bing Crosby's rendition of "Hey Jude"? How about Mel Torme's remake of "Sunshine Superman," or the sing-along-with-Mitch version of "Give Peace a Chance"? Some music lovers may wonder why anyone would want to hear such mess-terpieces, but to tell the truth, it's hard not to enjoy something as awful as Sammy Davis Jr.'s "In the Ghetto" or Sen. Sam Ervin drawling his way through "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Just don't play it on an empty stomach.