Music from the Motion Picture (Reprise 26805)
What makes the denizens of "Wayne's World" so believable is the attention to detail Mike Myers and Dana Carvey lavish on Wayne and Garth; not only do these two look like typical suburban rivet-heads, but they talk and think like them, too. So why doesn't the soundtrack album to "Wayne's World" ring as true? Part of the problem has to do with movie production up-sizing -- for instance, taking the raucously amateurish "Wayne's World Theme" and inflating it to the album-rock proportions found here. But what ultimately undoes the album is its inconsistency, for easy as it might be to imagine our boys from Aurora grooving to Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" or Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver," it's impossible to imagine them sitting through tripe like Rhino Bucket's "Ride With Yourself."
NEARER TO YOU
Skyy (Atlantic 82328)
Even though Skyy is too long in the tooth to be considered a new band, there's so much freshness and verve to the sound of "Nearer to You" that even longtime fans will find themselves thinking differently about the band. It isn't just that the arrangements are more polished than last time around, or that the beats are state-of-the-art slick; what makes this album such an improvement is the way those elements help frame the group's wonderfully soulful singing. As such, it hardly matters whether the music is sultry and supple like "Smooth and Slow," or as thumpingly insistent as "Up and Over" -- as far as this album is concerned, Skyy's the limit.
Little Village (Reprise 26713)
On paper, the population of Little Village -- songwriter John Hiatt, guitar legend Ry Cooder, bassist/tunesmith Nick Lowe and rhythm ace Jim Keltner -- seems an almost ironclad guarantee of success. But on vinyl (or whatever it is CDs are made of), "Little Village" is unexpectedly underwhelming. Though the playing is wonderful, the songs seem halfhearted and shallow, as if collaboration reduced the Villagers' writing ability to some lowest common denominator, devoid of personality, passion or edge. All told, "Little Village" is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there.
Joe Henderson (Verve 314-511-779)
When you get right down to it, the only thing a jazz album really needs are good players, solid tunes and the sort of chemistry that allows the former to make the most of the latter. That's easier said than done, though, which is why albums like Joe Henderson's "Lush Life" are such a joy. With all its songs taken from the Billy Strayhorn songbook, it's obvious that the album has no shortage of great material, while the players -- particularly tenor man Henderson, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and pianist Stephen Scott -- are first-rate. But the album's greatest strength is its sense of scale, lending a muscular quintet treatment to "Johnny Come Lately" and "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," while presenting the title tune as a lean, lyrical Henderson solo.