Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Soul 10462)
After the success of rap-powered albums from the films "New Jack City" and "Boyz N the Hood," it should hardly be surprising to find a host of hip-hop stars holding forth on the soundtrack from "Juice." What is unexpected, however, is the musical variety represented here. Sure, there's plenty of tough-talk along the lines of M. C. Pooh's "Sex, Money & Murder" and Cypress Hill's "Shoot 'Em Up," but there are also eloquent cautionary tales, like Eric B. & Rakim's muscular "Juice (Know the Ledge)." But for sheer listening pleasure, it's hard to top Aaron Hall's well-sung "Don't Be Afraid" or the brassy, '70s-style soul of the Brand New Heavies' "People Get Ready."
THE AMERICAN IN ME
Steve Forbert (Geffen 24459)
Growing old gracefully has never been a particularly rock and roll thing to do, but few pop musicians have ever expressed the regret and disillusionment of advancing adulthood as eloquently as Steve Forbert does on "The American in Me." Some of that stems from the strength of his writing, as with "Born Too Late," a reflection on diminished expectations that captures in one song what John Mellencamp has spent two albums trying to say, and some from the way his husky, straightforward singing can convey such a wide range of emotions. But mostly, it's because the balance Forbert strikes between rock grandiloquence and folk song intimacy makes it hard not to be drawn in by the sound of the album.