Brooks & Dunn: Doesn't that boogie sound familiar?

April 16, 1993|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

HARD WORKIN' MAN

Brooks & Dunn (Arista 18716)

Nobody likes a group that repeats itself -- unless, of course, there are hits involved. So as tempting as it might be to take Brooks & Dunn to task for filling "Hard Workin' Man" with songs that sound suspiciously like "Boot Scootin' Boogie," it's worth considering whether that's really such a bad thing. True, the new album could have been a little less obvious in its reiterations (really, fellas, there must have been another intro that would have fit with "We'll Burn That Bridge"). But is that really such a bad thing? Truth is, Dunn & Brooks are more listenable when their music messes with the boogie, which is why the ZZ Top-style stomp of "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)" is infinitely preferable to the color-by-numbers country balladry of "I Can't Put Out This Fire."

COLOUR OF YOUR DREAMS

Carole King (King's X/Rhythm Safari 57197)

As anyone with even a glancing knowledge of rock history knows, Carole King was not only one of the brightest of the Brill Building songwriters, but one whose talent carried her comfortably into the '80s. Nor have her gifts diminished. Scan through her current album, "Colour of Your Dreams," and it's clear she still knows how to write a memorable pop song. That much is obvious in the emotional turmoil of "Tears Falling Down on Me" to the romantic uplift of "Lay Down My Life," which show King's writing to be as tuneful and well-observed as ever. But record-making is not the same thing as song-writing, and that's where "Colour of Your Dreams" stumbles. Although the playing is solid enough (particularly the guitar work on "Friday's Tie-Dye Nightmare"), the presentation is so flat and mechanical you'd think you were listening to demos. And frankly, songs this good deserve better.

YOU NEVER KNOW

Peter Erskine (ECM 1497)

Generally, it's pretty easy to tell when you're listening to a drummer's album. It isn't just the unusual number of drum solos; it also has to do with the way the balance within the rhythm section shifts to favor percussion. Still, the only way you'll know that there's a drummer at the helm of Peter Erskine's "You Never Know" is to read the credits, because there's never the sense that a single instrument dominates. Granted, it helps that Erskine's companions share his fondness for lean lines and understated swing; pianist John Taylor's incisive, expressive playing is a particular pleasure. But the real magic here lies with the way Erskine, Taylor and bassist Palle Danielsson work together, swapping rhythmic and harmonic ideas so easily you'd think they were sharing a single brain.

L.A. STYLE

L.A. Style (Arista 18718)

As far as L.A. Style is concerned, "James Brown Is Dead" isn't just a provocative song title -- it's an aesthetic, a flat-out rejection of sampled funk breaks and all that go with them. And if the single doesn't make that point with sufficient clarity, the group's first album, "L.A. Style," should. Like many techno acts, L.A. Style's sound is pure aural aggression, bristling with buzzing synths and breathless beats, meaning that the beat doesn't so much draw you in as sweep you away. Yet as stripped-down and functional as these tunes are, they're anything but amelodic. Consequently, the best tracks here, from the lean-and-loopy "Baloony" to the soulful, soundbite-studded "I'm Raving," boast enough pop content to leave even non-fans raving.

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