Pop Music Critic
Duran Duran (Capitol 98876)
Considering that the career of most teen idols is usually shorter than puberty itself, Duran Duran deserves credit simply for having lasted a dozen years now. So in that respect, the success of the group's current single, "Ordinary World," is nothing short of miraculous -- who'd have thought these pretty boys would still be producing memorable singles at this stage of the game? Before getting too effusive, though, it should be added that the rest of "Duran Duran," the group's ninth and newest album, is somewhat less laudable. In fact, it's downright embarrassing at points, particularly when the lads try to prettify the Velvet Underground's classically arch "Femme Fatale." Some things, it seems, never change.
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (MCA 10803)
Although the movie plays the music mostly for laughs, the raps included on the soundtrack album from "CB4" are, on the whole, as serious as a heart attack. True, the three tracks credited to CB4 (and actually performed by Hi-C, Daddy-O from Stetsasonic, and Kool Moe Dee) are pretty funny, particularly the N.W.A. parody "Straight Outta Locash." But it's no joke when Public Enemy describes life on the hard-core rap scene as being like "Livin' in a Zoo," nor is KRS-One kidding when he and Boogie Down Productions wonder why anyone would want to be a "Black Cop." Even the normally sedate P.M. Dawn comes on strong with the trunk-thumping boom of "The Nocturnal Is in the House," and that's just one of the reasons "CB4" should be not only seen, but heard.
ARE YOU GONNA GO MY WAY
Lenny Kravitz (Virgin 86984)
Some rock stars go to great lengths to recapture their youth, but it seems Lenny Kravitz would rather invoke someone else's memories. Why else would he have put so much effort into making "Are You Gonna Go My Way" sound like a '60s rock flashback? But like most devotees of imitation nostalgia, Kravitz is far better at faking stylistic details than he is at capturing the underlying essence of the music. So as much effort as he put into the ersatz soul of "Sugar" or the snarling guitars in the title tune, Kravitz' music is, on the whole, about as euphoria-inducing as an oregano joint.
THE CRYING GAME
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (SBK 89024)
Actually, there's a second secret to Neil Jordan's latest film -- the music. Granted, there's nothing on the soundtrack album from "The Crying Game" that will leave listeners quite as stunned as the movie's most revealing moment, but that doesn't mean it's totally without surprises. Take, for example, Boy George's rendition of the title tune, which eerily mimics Dave Berry's fruity phrasing on the 1964 original (also included here). Or how about Carroll Thompson's cool, contemporary twist on "Let the Music Play"? And who, after seeing the film, will ever be able to think of "When A Man Loves a Woman" the same way again?