THE FLINTSTONES: MUSIC FROM BEDROCK
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (MCA 11045)
THE FLINTSTONES: MODERN STONE-AGE MELODIES
Original TV Show Soundtrack (Rhino 71649)
Forget about Fred and Barney. If you really want to gauge how deeply the Flintstone phenomenon is ingrained on the American psyche, sing a few bars of "Meet the Flintstones" and see how many people join in. Even more impressive is the consistent quality of the other music featured on the original TV show. Skim through "The Flintstones: Modern Stone-Age Melodies," and odds are you'll know half the songs by heart, from the zippy "Car Hop Song" to the dippy "Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sun Shine In." As such, the real challenge facing the movie soundtrack "The Flintstones: Music from Bedrock" is how to update the old songs without losing their charm in the process. Frankly, it's harder than it looks. Although the aptly renamed BC-52's try to get into the spirit of the thing, their "(Meet) the Flintstones" owes more of its charm to the vintage sound bites than to the overwrought yowling of Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider. Worse, the only other songs on the album that come close to being memorable are borrowed oldies like "Walk the Dinosaur" by Was Not Was or "Weird Al" Yankovic's hysterical Red Hot Chili Peppers parody, "Bedrock Anthem."
I SAY I SAY I SAY
Erasure (Mute/Elektra 61633)
Because Erasure owes its reputation to a mix of synthesized soul and over-the-top pop, it's hard to think of the duo as being especially subtle; the campy tribute of "Abba-esque" seems far more in character. But not only does "I Say I Say I Say" bring an unexpected warmth to the group's steady-as-a-second-hand pulse, it infuses the music with a genuinely affecting romanticism. Naturally, much of that has to do with Andy Bell's lusciously expressive singing, which adds an enormous amount
of heart to everything, from the warm, soaring chorus of "Always" to the soulful strains of "Take Me Back." But it's Vince Clarke's canny electronics that ultimately carry the day, softening techno-edged groove of "Run to the Sun" and filling "Blues Away" with such warmth that it's easy to forget he's doing it all with synthesizers. A revelation.
NUTTIN' BUT LOVE
Heavy D and the Boyz (MCA/Uptown 10998)
There's no denying that Heavy D and the Boyz command the respect of their peers, but is it really necessary to open "Nuttin' But Love" with five minutes of famous friends paying their respects? A far better start would be to jump straight to the sassy, bass-driven groove of "Sex Wit You" and take the album from there. True, the Heavster does rely a tad too much on the tried-and-true here, stressing his good-guy image and playing "The Overweight Lover" to the hilt. But just as "Something Goin' On" puts a fresh spin on the "Heartbeat" bassline or "Got Me Waiting" manages to reinvent Luther Vandross' "Don't You Know That," the best moments here are entertaining despite their seeming conservatism.
HINTS ALLEGATIONS AND THINGS LEFT UNSAID
Collective Soul (Atlantic 82596)
If all Collective Soul had to offer on "Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid" was "Shine," the band's debut would be well worth the money. Artfully combining the moody drama of post-R.E.M. Southern rock with the over-amped grit of grunge, "Shine" is a pop gem, the sort of single you hear once in the morning and end up humming all day. But there's more to the album than that. "Love Lifted Me" shows what the band learned from the Beatles songbook, "Heaven's Already Here" is a pleasant throwback to the singer/songwriter era, and "Goodnight, Good Guy" roars in with a powerhouse chorus and an instantly memorable guitar hook. Granted, the rest is mostly filler, but on the whole, it's a better beginning than most.