THE FIRE INSIDE
Bob Seger (Capitol 91134)
Bob Seger has always been good at nostalgia, both in the way his husky, care-worn voice conjures a world of lost opportunities and past glories, and in the ease with which his music recaptures the simple power of old time rock and roll. Which, perhaps, explains why "The Fire Inside," Seger's first album in five years, feels so funny at first -- instead courting the past, this one finds him looking ahead. To his credit, Seger sounds far stronger addressing the promise of potential romance in the breathless "Take a Chance" than he does lamenting lost love in the dreary "Real at the Time." But it's when Seger succeeds at something as out-of-character as Tom Waits' jazzy "New Coat of Paint" that he truly shows the advantages of moving forward, not backward.
STRAIGHT OUTTA HELL'S KITCHEN
Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam (Columbia 46035)
To anyone who remembers the girlish sound of their early hits, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's latest album, "Straight Outta Hell's Kitchen," is nothing short of astonishing. Not only has Lisa Lisa's voice grown in strength, it has also gained enough soulful assurance to cut through almost any rhythm mix. It's a good thing, too; with half the album produced by David Cole and Robert Clivilles of C+C Music Factory and half by Full Force, the music is relentlessly danceable, from the insistent "Let the Beat Hit 'Em" to the infectious "I Like It, I Like It." Nor are the ballads anything to sneeze at, particularly when Lisa Lisa digs in as deeply as she does on "You + Me = Love."