WAYNE'S WORLD 2
Original Soundtrack (Reprise 45485)
For a guy purporting to represent the heart and soul of modern suburban metal culture, Wayne Campbell sure has a jones for the '70s. Why else would the soundtrack to "Wayne's World 2" be full to bursting with the likes of Golden Earring's "Radar Love," the Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein," even the Village People classic "Y.M.C.A."? Not that these oldies are anything to complain about; frankly, they beat most of the contemporary stuff cold, particularly the Gin Blossoms' "Idiot Summer" and 4 Non Blondes' incredibly hokey "Mary's House." Could it be that Wayne is showing his real age here?
R. Kelly (Jive 41527)
Let's give R. Kelly his due: The guy really can sing. Hearing him resurrect the Spinners' oldie "Sadie" ought to be enough to convince any old-time soul fan that this new jack has the goods. What he does with those goods, though, is something else again. Because for all Kelly's vocal promise, "12 Play" comes across as little more than well-harmonized dirty talk, as our hero spins witless variations on such themes as "Your Body's Callin'," Freak Dat Body" and "I Like the Crotch on You." Even "Sex Me," one of the few naughty numbers that makes good use of his ZTC talents, is eventually undone by a largely pointless remix. Next
time, maybe Kelly should just play by himself.
SYMPHONIC MUSIC OF YES
Various Artists (RCA Victor 61938)
In theory, an album like "Symphonic Music of Yes" should be a natural. After all, not only should the band's compositionally ambitious material translate easily to the orchestral realm, but having a couple actual Yes-men -- in this case, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Bill Bruford and singer Jon Anderson -- ought to add to the authenticity of the project. Somehow, though, it never does. It's bad enough that the playing is so wooden that "Roundabout" comes off like "Walkabout" and "I've Seen All Good People" suggests that what they've been seen doing is sleeping; what truly sinks the project are David Palmer's color-by-number arrangements, which neither enhance these Yes songs nor make the most of the orchestras involved.
John McLaughlin (Verve 314 519 861)
Ideally, a tribute album should express more than an appreciation for an musician's catalog; it should also provide evidence of at least some sort of aesthetic empathy. So even though "Time Remembered," guitarist John McLaughlin's tribute to pianist Bill Evans, is at times very pretty, it must be judged a failure. For one thing, McLaughlin's bursts of virtuosity are at odds with the deceptive simplicity of Evans' line and often undermine the very structures they seek to adorn. More to the point, McLaughlin seems unable to grasp the connection between Evans' often difficult harmonies and the deep-seated lyricism of the pianist's melodies; as such, the music here is sometimes interesting, but never involving.