WBBD -- BOOTCITY!
Bell Biv DeVoe (MCA 10345)
All anyone ever asks of a remix album is that it put a new spin on an old favorite. Bell Biv DeVoe's "WBBD -- Bootcity!" goes a step further, though -- not only does it freshen the most familiar tracks from "Poison," in some cases it actually surpasses the original. Although the radio station gimmick (the WBBD of the title) wears thin in a hurry, the music itself has plenty of staying power, thanks to remixes that do everything from simply hyping the beat to radically restructuring the songs. Better still, there's also "Word to the Mutha!," which by augmenting the BBD lineup with Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant goes beyond remixing to remake the New Edition sound. Worth hearing.
STRANGER IN THIS TOWN
Richie Sambora (Mercury 848 895)
Strip the Springsteenian excess from the last couple Bon Jovi albums, and what you'd be left with would probably sound a lot like "Stranger in This Town," the solo debut of Bon Jovi guitarist (and Cher plaything) Richie Sambora. That's not to say Sambora's own sound is lacking in bombast; indeed, the closer he gets to a ballad, the more likely he is to over-emote, something which makes the likes of "Rest in Peace" almost unbearable. But because the album's brightest moments -- "Ballad of Youth," say, or "Church of Desire" -- possess the same pop-rock appeal of Bon Jovi's best, Sambora's "Stranger" is likely to be in town for a while.
TIN MACHINE II
Tin Machine (Victory 314 511 216)
No matter how much David Bowie protests that he's "just another member" of Tin Machine, it's impossible to hear him sing without thinking of his solo work. But why that should make people expect anything in particular of "Tin Machine II" is hard to say. For one thing, after a career as varied as Bowie's, it seems silly to have any expectations at all; for another, Bowie's voice, commanding as it is, nonetheless has to struggle to keep from being upstaged by Reeves Gabrels' brilliantly unpredictable guitar work. And it's that competition between voice and guitar that ultimately makes this Tin Machine work, from the elegant construction of "One Shot" to the edgy aggression of "You Can't Talk."
Albert Collins (EMI 96740)
These days, most blues fans know guitarist Albert Collins as "the Ice Man," a soloist whose frosty nickname belies the searing tone he ekes from his Telecaster. Unique as his sound is, though, it wasn't always so ferocious; in fact, as "The Complete Imperial Records" attest, Collins was originally more of a rhythm man, given to funky instrumentals like "Do the Sissy" or "Jawing." But then, he seemed willing to try almost anything, from talky novelty numbers to zydeco two-steps, and these 36 songs (all recorded in 1969 and '70) offer an enlightening look at his musical development.