WISHThe Cure (Elektra/Fiction 61309)Robert Smith's ability...

April 24, 1992|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

WISH

The Cure (Elektra/Fiction 61309)

Robert Smith's ability to distill adolescent unhappiness into tunefully downbeat rock may have led some fans to proclaim him the Pope of Mope, but that doesn't mean every song he writes for the Cure is guaranteed to be gloomy. Indeed, parts of "Wish," the Cure's latest offering, are almost giddily cheerful: Smith addresses the effervescence of infatuation in "High" and later, in "Doing the Unstuck," actually warbling, "Let's get happy!" Naturally, the Cure don't stay happy -- "End" and the melancholy, piano-flavored "Trust" find the band sounding as melancholy as ever -- but on the whole, "Wish" maintains a balance between light and dark that makes it one of the band's most satisfying efforts to date.

THE WILD LIFE

Slaughter (Chrysalis 21911)

If rock bands were graded on originality, Slaughter would have a hard time keeping its average in positive numbers. For instance, its latest album, "The Wild Life," finds the quartet copping licks from Led Zeppelin (note the lift from "The Immigrant Song" in "Times They Change") and imitating Queen (on the Mercury-al "Days Gone By"). Luckily for them, originality generally takes a back seat to musical impact, and that's one place this band doesn't fall down. Not only do the rockers, from the high-rev boogie of "Move to the Music" to the majestic thunder of "Reach for the Sky," stress the physical pleasure of loud music, but the ballads invariably emphasize melody over sentiment. Derivative, but fun.

PRESENT TENSE

Bobby Watson (Columbia 52400)

In a sense, it's almost ironic that alto saxophonist Bobby Watson has titled his new release "Present Tense," because its ambitious, idiosyncratic sound was far more common in the mid-'60s than it is today. That's not to say Watson has gone retro on us; indeed, his playing here is similar to his previous efforts, sticking with the solidly progressive post-bop format he's used for years. But the writing is wonderfully inspired, while the playing, particularly on the eloquently bluesy "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good" is nothing short of miraculous.

REMEMBER ME

Otis Redding (Stax 8572)

Unreleased recordings generally have a good reason for languishing in the vaults: They're not very good. So it ought to come as no surprise that the outtakes and oddities in the Otis Redding album "Remember Me" don't make for a terribly cohesive collection. Though there are a couple finds -- like "Trick or Treat," a Hayes/Porter groover in the mold of "Knock on Wood" -- most of the album is given over to sub-par performances and alternate takes. Definitely for fanatics only.

With 'Wish' the Cure is unusually upbeat

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