Houston croons credibly, but others bring the pop potential

November 20, 1992|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

THE BODYGUARD

Original Soundtrack Album (Arista 18699)

Whether or not she makes a credible actress, Whitney Houston remains a bankable singer, so it's no surprise that the soundtrack to "The Bodyguard" comes packed with pop potential. What does seem a shock is how few of the album's high points come from Houston. "I Will Always Love You" is a perfect (if predictable) bit of romantic treacle, and the slick, new jack sound of "Run to You" makes it her most believable R&B effort yet. But her "Jesus Loves Me" seems calculated when compared to Aaron Neville's angelic "Even If My Heart Would Break," and Houston's version of "I'm Every Woman," though a heartfelt Chaka Khan tribute, hardly compares to the funk revisionism of "It's Gonna Be a Lovely Day" by the S.O.U.L.

S.Y.S.T.E.M.

THE PREDATOR

Ice Cube (Priority 57185)

According to a recent survey, 39 percent of the people in Los Angeles feel that race relations have gotten worse since the riots earlier this year. This doesn't come as news to Ice Cube; in fact, the bulk of his new album, "The Predator," is devoted to addressing how little has changed since the Rodney King trial (check the caught-by-the-cops scenario he spins in "Who Got the Camera?"). But rather than simply spew venom as he did on "Death Certificate," Cube keeps his rage focused on the social system that keeps racism in place. Besides, no matter how tough his rhymes are, the beats behind tunes like "Wicked," "Check Yo Self" and "Dirty Mack" hit even harder. And that, in the end, is what makes "The Predator" a true killer.

THE WAY WE WALK

Genesis (Atlantic 82452)

Concept albums aren't exactly a new wrinkle for Genesis, but the group's latest live recording, "The Way We Walk," offers a whole new twist: This time, the concept has less to do with what the music says than with the way it's packaged. With "The Way We Walk," Genesis offers the hit-oriented portion of its show (referred to as "The Shorts"); in January, a second volume arrives, featuring the arty extended numbers ("The Longs"). As a marketing device, it's a nice way to service both the pop and art-rock sectors of the Genesis fan base. But as a listening experience, apart from an impassioned "I Can't Dance" and a funky "That's All," the concert versions of the shorter songs add little to the originals.

MALCOLM X

3)Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack

(Qwest/Reprise 45130)

Original Motion Picture Score

(40 Acres and a Mule/Columbia 53190)

There may have been only one "Malcolm X," but there are two soundtrack albums -- and that might seem a bit confusing at first. So pay attention to the fine print: The Original Motion Picture Score is old-fashioned movie music, and perfectly suited to the epic sweep of the film, thanks to Terence Blanchard's lush orchestral writing. But it's the "Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack" package pop fans will most want to hear, since it balances well-chosen period pieces like Louis Jordan's "Beans and Cornbread" or John Coltrane's "Alabama" with the soulful, savvy commentary of Arrested Development's "Revolution."

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