BACK TO FRONT
Lionel Richie (Motown 374636338) It's bad enough that "Back to Front," Lionel Richie's first new album in 5 1/2 years, contains only three new songs; would it have been too much to expect them to have hit potential as well? Apparently so. "My Destiny," with its low-key vocals and understated, fatback groove, may offer a reasonable approximation of an Al B. Sure! B-side, but "Do It To Me" does it without any enthusiasm while "Love, Oh Love" comes on like a Lionel Richie parody with its platitudinous verses and kiddie-chorus finale. And though the rest of the album skims the best from his career as a Commodore and solo star, the disparity between then and now only makes the new songs seem that much more depressing.
FEATURING ZEMYA HAMILTON
Clubland (Great Jones 162-536 007)
Most Americans think of Swedish pop as being blandly Beatlesque, bursting with fair-haired ABBA and Roxette wannabes, but the truth is that Sweden supports an impressively diverse array of talent, including a surprisingly vital dance music scene. Clubland, for instance, built a buzz in this country merely on the strength of its import-only debut, and could well become the next Black Box -- at least, if "Clubland Featuring Zemya Hamilton" is any indication. Not only are the beats utterly insinuating, but the songs, particularly "Hypnotized," "Torture (In the Name of Love)" and "Set Me Free," are so hook-heavy and insistent it's hard to hear them without wanting to hum along and dance.