TC GWELCOME TO WHEREVER YOU ARE
INXS (Atlantic 82394) Anyone who thinks of INXS as primarily a singles band will probably want to reconsider after hearing the group's ninth and latest album, "Welcome to Wherever You Are." Arty and eclectic, the material served up here goes well beyond the bite-sized pop nuggets INXS usually serves. Indeed, from electronic clangor of "Heaven Sent" to the symphonic splendor of "Baby Don't Cry," this ranks as the band's most ambitious effort to date. Unfortunately, it's also the most unsatisfying, for not only do most of the band's experiments fail, but the few sops to accessibility also flop, seeming either tired (like "Beautiful Girl"), repetitious (like the "What You Need" rewrite, "Communication"), both.
WAY 2 FONKY
DJ Quick (Profile 1430)
Thanks to Ice Cube, N.W.A. and other gangsta rappers, Compton, Calif., is no longer just another rundown L.A. suburb, but one of the most notorious bad neighborhoods in pop culture. But to DJ Quick, Compton isn't just a place but a state of mind. Or so goes the logic behind "Jus Lyke Compton," one of the most pointed tracks on the rapper's second album, "Way 2 Fonky." Quick has a point -- the same hard times and desperate lives rapped about by the Compton crews can be found in cities all across America -- but what really sells the rap isn't the argument but the music behind it. And Quick's gloss on the slick, soulful sound of blaxploitation soundtracks is typical of the sly, insinuating grooves he creates here, from the guitar-filled snap of "When You're a Gee" to the booming, bass-heavy swagger of the title tune.
MARCH OR DIE
Motorhead (Epic 48997)
For any other rock band, an album as aurally intense as "March or Die" would be a benchmark work. But coming from Motorhead -- a band that was churning out thrash classics before the guys in Metallica even knew how to tune their guitars -- "March or Die" seems catchy and commercial -- slick, even. Of course, it helps that Lemmy and the lads have some help this time around, with cameos from Slash and Ozzy Osbourne on "I Ain't No Nice Guy." But even on its own, Motorhead has never seemed so accessible, thanks to tunes as hooky and hard-rocking as "Bad Religion" and the bluesy "You Better Run."
Erasure (Mute/Elektra 61386)
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the sort of tribute the members of Erasure pay ABBA on the EP "ABBA-esque" must be something akin to adulation. Granted, the four songs offered here aren't note-for-note re-creations, since synth-meister Vince Clarke puts a fashionable techno sheen on "Lay Your Hands on Me" and even brings a guest rapper in for "Take a Chance on Me." But there's no mistaking the devotion involved in these remakes, which transcend the campiness of the concept to show how enduring the appeal of these songs is.