ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(Morgan Creek 2959-20004)
Considering how much money a successful soundtrack album can bring in, motion picture scores these days are cast almost as carefully as the films themselves. Take the soundtrack to "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." Being a historical drama, most of its score is in the traditional movie-music mode, offering more mood than melody with its sweeping strings, woodwind doodles and explosions of brass. But because traditional movie music doesn't sell, there's also a designated single -- "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," a bland, predictable love ballad by the bland, predictable Bryan Adams. So if you want the single, you're stuck with the symphony, and vice versa. Ain't marketing wonderful?
Massive Attack (Virgin 91685)
Most dance music is totally devoted to the groove -- so much so, in fact, that little consideration is given to anything else. That's why Massive Attack's "Blue Lines" seems such an arresting debut. Like Soul II Soul, this production team-cum-pop group takes an engagingly eclectic approach to its music, drawing from jazz, R&B and reggae as well as rap and house. But because Massive Attack's music pays as much attention to mood as groove, these songs are as listenable as they are danceable, from the airy, hypnotic pulse of "Safe From Harm" to the semi-symphonic grandeur of "Unfinished Sympathy."
Stephanie (WTG 44489)
It used to be that every little girl wanted to grow up to be a princess. Nowadays, of course, they all want to be pop stars. But then, so do the real princesses, as "Stephanie," the new album from Princess Stephanie of Monaco, makes plain. Being a good little jet-setter, Stephanie doesn't dirty herself with heavy metal -- or heavy anything, for that matter -- preferring instead the sort of lightweight, vaguely danceable earwash that dominates the European pop market. And though it's hard to imagine anyone this side of Robin Leach taking the album seriously, at least she'll have the comfort of knowing she'll still be rich and famous even after this flops.
Chubb Rock (Select 21640)
A lot of rappers love to talk a blue streak, spitting syllables in a breathless stream; hearing them, you'd think there was a penalty for leaving anything unsaid. Not Chubb Rock, though. Even when he's rapping over the insistent, Middle-Eastern groove of "Treat 'Em Right," there's something essentially unhurried about the Chubbster's delivery. That's not to say there's no urgency to his music; indeed, his new album, "The One," is packed with funky beats and percolating, bass-driven grooves. But Chubb Rock's habit of weighing his words before rhyming them adds an extra level of depth and intelligence to his raps -- and that's definitely something that's worth the wait.