Celine Dion shoots for soul but misses

January 28, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Pop Music Critic


Celine Dion (550 Music/Epic 57555) It's no accident that Celine Dion keeps recording all those movie-theme duets -- she's got the perfect voice for wide-screen romance, all unbridled power and telegraphed emotion. What she doesn't have, however, is much in the way of soul, which is why "The Colour of My Love" seems such an uneven effort. When she's working with tunefully romantic stuff like "The Power of Love" or "When I Fall In Love" -- she sounds great, demonstrating the kind of vocal confidence that originally made Whitney Houston a star. But when she tries to get down and

sound funky, as on "Lovin' Proof" or "Everybody's Talkin' My Baby Down," she seems totally lost, offering high-pitched whoops and throaty growls as if evoking R&B mannerisms would somehow make her sound soulful. Instead, it makes her sound silly and diminishes the effect of what is an otherwise pleasant (if

occasionally overstated) pop album.


Alice in Chains (Columbia 57628)

Considering the sonic ferocity of "Dirt," it's tempting to see the relative quiet of the new Alice in Chains EP, "Jar of Flies," as a change in direction for the band. Spend some time with these seven songs, though, and it quickly becomes clear that even though the music's volume has dropped, its intensity remains as high as ever. A lot of that has to do with ambition exhibited here, as the band expands its horizons to include everything from the dark harmony of Layne Staley's multi-tracked vocals on "Rotten Apple" to the lush, orchestral swell of "I Stay Away." And should this newfound adventurousness seem a bit too overwhelming, you can always fall back on the semi-acoustic grunge of "No Excuses" or the bluesy abandon of "Swing On This."


Medicine (American 45443)

In theory, noise is noise -- ugly, ungainly and unmusical. In practice, however, noise can be horribly annoying or bracingly -- refreshing; it all depends on the noisemakers. Medicine, for example, is fanatic about filling out "The Buried Life" with all manner of ear-pricking sound -- from the whooshing white noise that floats along behind the melody in "Fried Awake" to the feedback shrieks and animal noises that make up the bulk of "Emmeline." Yet as grating as these sounds sometimes are, there's always a payoff in the songs, be it as tart as contrast between the static-y sizzle that underpins the candy-sweet melody of "The Pink," or as visceral as the clanking industrial grind of "She Knows Everything."


Various Artists (Atlantic 82566)

A rock and roll landmark for two decades now, CBGB's was home to most of punk rock's freshman class -- Television, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Blondie and (of course) the Ramones. Unfortunately, none of those acts are included on "Live at CBGB's," a live album from 1976 that seemed second-hand even then. Not that there aren't worthwhile performances here; the Shirts' "Operetico" neatly sums up the scene's blend of intellect and pop smarts, while Mink DeVille's "Let Me Dream If I Want To" makes a brilliant leap from Lou Reed to the Rascals. But at this distance, bands like Tuff Darts and the Miamis sound less like punk than unexceptional bar-band rock, while the deservedly forgotten Manster simply sounds silly.

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