Right Said Fred (Charisma 92107)
With its prodding piano and insistently tuneful bass line, Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" is an insidiously catchy single -- the sort that sticks in your memory whether you want it to or not. Fortunately, head Fred Richard Fairbrass handles the vocals with enough good humor that the single's annoyance factor remains relatively low. But even his charm has its limits, and said limits are sorely tested by the rest of "Up," the group's American debut. It isn't that the album errs by offering more of the same; the problem is that there's not enough of the single's goofy charm to sustain disco throwbacks like "Don't Talk Just Kiss" or the ABC-ish "A Love for All Seasons."
ALLIGATOR STOMP, VOL. 3
Various Artists (Rhino 70312)
The problem with Mardi Gras is that the party inevitably ends, leaving revelers with 40 days of Lent and plenty to repent. But there's one thing we needn't feel sorry for -- getting a lift out of good Cajun music and zydeco. Smart penitents, though, manage to hold onto a bit of Mardi Gras merriment through daily playings of "Alligator Stomp, Vol. 3," the latest in Rhino's collections of Louisiana party music. Granted, it's no substitute for being there, but tracks like "Parlez-Nous a Boire" by the Balfa Brothers or C. J. Chenier's rollicking "My Baby Don't Wear No Shoes" are so much fun it's almost sinful.
Stacy Earl (RCA 61003)
Forget about the continuing controversy over whether or not Paula Abdul does all the singing on her albums; as long as there are singers as openly imitative as Stacy Earl around, the question of who sang what seems almost academic. That's not to say that "Stacy Earl" is a complete copy of "Forever Your Girl," but it's a good bet that most listeners, upon first hearing Earl sing "Romeo & Juliet," immediately mistook the single for the latest Abdul offering. Still, the production is slick enough and the songs sufficiently catchy that originality isn't really an issue; if all you want from a dance album is strong hooks and a sturdy beat, there's no reason why Stacy Earl can't be your girl.
AS UGLY AS THEY WANNA BE
Ugly Kid Joe (Stardog 868 823)
Rock and roll has always had its share of wisenheimers, but most such smart-alecs confine themselves to the smirking cynicism of the underground. Not Ugly Kid Joe, though -- this hard-rocking quintet has its eye on the mainstream. "As Ugly As They Wanna Be," in fact, presents U.K.J. as a sort of wise-guy Guns N' Roses, delivering all the exuberance but none of the self-serious attitude. Granted, the songs on this EP are sometimes too gimmicky for their own good, but when the Uglies come up with a winner, it works on all levels. Perhaps that's why "Everything About You" is a not only funnier anti-lovesong than the Gunners' "Used to Love Her," but catchier to boot.