It's hard to find fault with Strait's album of hits

January 31, 1992|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

TEN STRAIT HITS

George Strait (MCA 10450)

Just because it's hard to argue with success doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Take, for instance, "Ten Strait Hits," George Strait's third best-of album. Although there's no arguing that the 10 singles collected here have been terrifically successful for Strait, it's worth wondering why so many of them are ballads. Not that there's anything wrong with a good loser-in-love song like "Famous Last Words of a Fool," particularly when rendered by a voice as light and affecting as his, but after hearing what he can do with the livelier grooves of "Ace in the Hole," "If You Ain't Lovin' (You Ain't Livin')" and "I've Come To Expect It From You," it's hard not to wish that there will be more of that kind of material in his next 10 straight.

FREEJACK

Soundtrack (Morgan Creek 20008)

Generally speaking, the rule among soundtrack albums is that ++ the more diverse the artist list is, the less cohesive the album will be. So how is it that the soundtrack to "Freejack," which boasts a lineup ranging from mainstream metal stars Scorpions to perky synth-popper Jane Child beat-crazed noise merchants Ministry holds together so well? Because instead of focusing on the bands, music consultant Gary Goetzman looked instead for suitably similar songs. And so the Scorpions offering, "Hit Between the Eyes," is raucous and insistent, Jane Child's "Mona Lisa Smiles" is screamingly soulful, Ministry's "Thieves" is tuneful yet intense, and this soundtrack is home free.

PRIVATE CONCERT

John Lewis (Emarcy 848 267)

Subtle dynamics, melodic logic and a keen sense of compositional structure are such essential aspects of John Lewis's piano style that it can be easy to forget just how expertly the man can swing -- particularly when he's away from his rhythmically conscious companions in the Modern Jazz Quartet. But as his new solo recording, "Private Concert," shows, few jazz musicians can build an original line around a Bach motif the way Lewis can, and fewer still can construct an improvisation that sounds like some lost work of Claude Debussy. And yet as well-thought-out as his solos are, they never lose their sense of swing; indeed, even the Bach-derived "The Opening Bid" swings as expertly as his rendition of " 'Round Midnight."

COL. BRUCE HAMPTON & THE AQUARIUM RESCUE UNIT

Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit (Capricorn 42000)

Ever since he headed up the late, lamented Hampton Grease Band, Col. Bruce Hampton (Ret.) has specialized in making music that's innovative, idiosyncratic and appallingly underappreciated. With luck, though, that last won't apply to his latest project, "Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit." Combining the best elements of Little Feat, the Dixie Dregs and Captain Beefheart, Hampton's current band offers a deft mix of Southern rock, casual jazz and warped blues that's tuneful, funny and unexpectedly addictive. Definitely worth taking a chance on.

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