With Wreckx-N-Effect, new jack's newer still

RECORDS

November 27, 1992|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

HARD OR SMOOTH

Wreckx-N-Effect (MCA 10566)

Having been one of the first rap crews to embrace the new jack aesthetic, it makes sense that Wreckx-N-Effect's second album, "Hard or Smooth," would include a declaration-of-intent like "New Jack Swing II." What may come as a surprise, however, is that this swing sounds, well, newer than the old version, with producer Teddy Riley generating a groove that's richer, funkier and far more addictive than the original. "Rump Shaker" is perhaps the best example of how the Wreckx ride the music's deeply hypnotic pulse, but there are plenty of others, enough to make "Hard or Smooth" hard to ignore.

SESAME'S TREET

Smart E's (Big Beat 14223)

Given the novelty-number feel of Smart E's techno take on the "Sesame St." theme, you might expect "Sesame's Treet" to be packed with more of the same. And you'd be wrong -- but probably not disappointed. Smart E's sound can be maddeningly diverse, leaping inexplicably from the abstract electronics of "Charlie" to the club-style abandon of "Loo's Control," or from the title tune's breathless eccentricity to the slow, soulful grind of "Love Is Blind." But it's never disappointing, keeping the beat strong and steady no matter how it's played. And as such, the album delivers a degree of dance-floor ecstasy that makes these E's seem very smart, indeed.

ALADDIN

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Walt Disney 60846)

Considering the elements at play here, it's only natural for Disney fans to expect that the soundtrack for "Aladdin" will be just as tunefully enticing as the albums from "The Little Mermaid" or "Beauty and the Beast." But even though the music comes once again from the pen of Alan Menken, the character of these songs is somewhat different. Apart from "A Whole New World" (which is reprised at the album's end by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle), most of the songs here tend more toward scene-setting than tune-selling, meaning that unless you're especially fond of Robin Williams' manic patter, the music doesn't work as well without the visuals.

ONE WORLD NATION

Ya Kid K (SBK 80246)

After Ya Kid K's career was resurrected by the revival of "Move This" (which she recorded as a member of Technotronic), a solo album seemed inevitable. Yet no matter how much "One World Nation" might seem to cash in on that comeback, her sound is distinctive enough that the music stands easily on its own. So forget that the album opens with a predictable remix of "Move This," and that a couple tracks try too hard to re-create that

Technotronic groove. What's important is that the rest of the album resolutely avoids the obvious, both musically -- check the symphonic flourishes sprinkled through "Life" -- and lyrically, so that at her best, Ya Kid K is guaranteed to move you.

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