JUSTIFY MY LOVE
Madonna (Sire Maxi-single 21820)
As if the furor over the video clip wasn't enough, Madonna has added another layer to her latest controversy with a five-track maxi-single release of "Justify My Love." As is usually the case with dance-oriented singles, Our Lady of Perpetual Scandal has augmented the sultry vamp of the original with several remixes, which range from a fairly conventional "12-inch mix" by Torch Song's William Orbit, to a creepy, Bible-quoting "The Beast Within Mix." But it's Andre Betts' "hip-hop mix" that will raise the most eyebrows, in part because of the vigorous new beat he gives the song, but mostly because of Madonna's unprintable, two-word invitation at its close. Hot stuff, indeed.
Pop metal is one musical hybrid that depends absolutely on the proper chemistry. With the right blend of melody and muscle, the results can be irresistibly accessible; but when the mix is out of balance, what we're left with is a sodden mess like the Scorpions' "Crazy World." All the elements are there, all right -- screaming guitar, sensitive balladry, heroic vocals and boisterous sing-along choruses -- but it's put together with a "one from column A, one from column B" haphazardness. Which is why there's no passion in "Lust or Love," no come-on to "Tease Me, Please Me," no power in "Hit Between the Eyes."
Various Artists (CTI 847 199)
Throughout the '70s, Creed Taylor's CTI records was perhaps the most popular jazz label going. And for good reason -- not only did Taylor understand how to please both hard-bop fans and fusion fanatics, but he had a knack for assembling all-star sessions that swung like full-time bands. With "Rhythmstick," Taylor attempts a return to form; the line-up includes Dizzy Gillespie, Phil Woods, John Scofield and others, while the arrangements run from Benny Golson-scored boppers to Flora Purim-led sambas. And though the playing isn't always perfect, it clicks often enough to suggest that Taylor hasn't lost his touch.
TOO DARK PARK
Skinny Puppy (Capitol 94683)
On a certain level, there's something admirable about the unrelenting anger of Skinny Puppy's music. After all, the band has good cause to rant and rave, what with all the industrial pollution, animal exploitation and all-purpose "hate disease" going around. But for all its righteous indignation, the mating-bulldozers dance beat and beast-from-hell vocals that fill out "Too Dark Park" are simply too grating to endure. It's almost as if the band thought its listeners were to blame, and feels obliged to dole out the appropriate punishment.