New Connick disappoints in more ways than one

August 12, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

SHE

Harry Connick Jr. (Columbia 64376)

After presenting himself as the Great White Hope for Sinatra-style pop on his last several albums, Harry Connick Jr. will undoubtedly leave a lot of his listeners puzzled and &r disappointed with "She." Instead of the suave, big band sound he essayed on "We Are in Love" and "When Harry Met Sally . . . ," this new album opts for a funky New Orleans-style groove -- an approach Connick claims is actually closer to his roots. Maybe so; after all, he does seem to have a genuine affection for the music of the Meters and the late James Booker. Trouble is, Connick's attempts to pay tribute to Booker on tunes such as "Funky Dunky" and "To Love the Language" lack the manic wit and offhand virtuosity that marked Booker's best work, while not even the presence of Meters rhythm men George Porter and Ziggy Modeliste can breathe life into the likes of "Honestly Now" or "The Big Parade." Worst of all, the album's strongest pop tunes -- particularly "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name" and "That Party" -- end up undercut by the conceptual excess of Connick's lyricist, Ramsey McLean. Don't burn the big band arrangements yet, Harry.

AROUND THE NEXT DREAM

BBM (Virgin 39728)

At first glance, BBM seems like a classic-rock fan's dream come true. With the Cream rhythm team of Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker (the two Bs in BBM) back together again, "Around the Next Dream" ought to be the next best thing to a Cream reunion album. Unfortunately, "next best" is as close as it gets. Although guitarist Gary Moore (the M in BBM) offers a passable imitation of Eric Clapton's blues-soaked soloing on such songs as "City of Gold" or "High Cost of Loving," what he adds to tunes like "Can't Fool the Blues" is a tad too predictable to elevate the improvisations the way Clapton's playing did with Cream. But what ultimately keeps "Around the Next Dream" from seeming a worthy successor to "Disraeli Gears" and "Wheels of Fire" is the fact that the material simply tries too hard to sound like the old stuff. Face it: There's no point in listening to an ersatz "White Room" like "Glory Days" when the original still sounds fine.

DEWDROPS IN THE GARDEN

Deee-Lite (Elektra 61526)

It can't be easy being a successful dance-pop act these days. With things changing so fast on the club scene, by the time a group gets around to its third album, it either has to re-invent its sound totally -- and thereby risk confusing its fans in the mainstream -- or stick with the old sound and risk sounding terminally dated on the dance floor. Maybe that's why Deee-Lite has gone for the middle ground, updating its sound while maintaining its old attitude. Although the beats on "Dewdrops in the Garden" draw mainly from techno and ambient, the vocals are just as light and soulful as they were on "Groove Is in the Heart." That approach clearly hasn't hurt them on the club level, where the driving, funk-tinged "Bring Me Your Love" is already a smash, but it's the fact that "Dewdrops in the Garden" balances such singles fare with quirky, quiet tracks, such as "Stay In Bed, Forget the Rest," that makes Deee-Lite worth experiencing in album format.

AIRHEADS

Original Soundtrack Album (Fox 11014)

Unlike "This Is Spinal Tap," in which the music was part of the joke, little of what turns up on the soundtrack to "Airheads" is played for laughs. That doesn't mean it isn't sometimes funny anyway, as when 4 Non Blondes offers its totally unironic (and utterly ridiculous) remake of Van Halen's "I'm the One." But for the most part, what you get is basic, state-of-the-art hard rock, from White Zombie's freaky "Feed the Gods" to Prong's churning "Inheritance." Granted, "Degenerated" by the Lone Rangers -- the band allegedly fronted by the movie's stars, Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler -- is a bit of a disappointment, but the duet between Lemmy and Ice-T on the Motorhead track is a hoot.

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