In yesterday's edition of Maryland Live, the name of the rock band Phish was misspelled.
* The Sun regrets the error.
A LIVE ONE
Fish (Elektra 61777)
Being great onstage doesn't always work to a band's advantage in the CD shop, since it's hard to re-create the communal vibe of a killer concert in the recording studio. Nor are live albums always the answer, as too often the listener at home is left thinking, "Guess you had to have been there." Fortunately, Fish's "A Live One" really is the next best thing to being there. Not only does the double album capture the improvisational electricity of the band's performances, but it also conveys a sense of an average night's audience interaction -- no mean feat for two little discs. As expected, some of the songs do go on, with "Tweezer" clocking in at a jaw-dropping 30 minutes. But the communication between the four members of Fish is so sharp that even the lengthiest solos never seem to lose the thread, allowing the group's ear for melody to shine through no matter how abstract the improvisations get. If this Fish album doesn't hook you, nothing will.
LOOK NO FURTHER
Rozalla (Epic 57583)
What makes a diva divine isn't mere vocal power, but the ability to take any song and make it hers. Need proof? Look no further than Rozalla's new album, "Look No Further." That she can take command of the groove is clear from the first bass-pumping notes of "This Time I Found Love," while her ability to sell a song is evident both in the confidence she brings to each chorus of "You Never Love the Same Way Twice" and in the care with which she crafts every verse in the title tune. But where Rozalla really shows her stuff is with the cover material. That her version of "I Love Music" is soulful and commanding enough to withstand comparison to the Harold Melvin original is impressive enough, but the ease with which she remakes R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" as a house anthem is nothing short of stunning. Dance music doesn't get much smarter than this.
Foo Fighters (Capitol 34027)
Because former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl not only put the Foo Fighters together but also wrote all the band's material, it's hard to hear "Foo Fighters" without making comparisons between the two bands. But apart from a slight similarity between Grohl's voice and that of his old boss, there's little reason to liken the Foo Fighters to Nirvana. Grohl has swapped his drums for guitar, and the band's sound is light and jangly, only occasionally working itself into a distortion-driven froth (as on the adrenalized "Good Grief"). Rather than underscore their instrumental might, the Foo Fighters would rather emphasize the music's melodic content, be it through the Beatlesque guitars of "Big Me" or the raging guitars of "Weenie Beenie."
100 DEGREES AND RISING
Incognito (Verve 314 528 000)
Jazz has been estranged from the more commercial side of the music business for so long that merely suggesting there's something jazzy about a group as pop-savvy as Incognito would be fighting words in some quarters. The music on "100 Degrees and Rising" won't be mistaken for be-bop, but anyone who remembers Norman Connors' work with Michael Henderson and the late Phyllis Hyman will have no trouble understanding how much Incognito owes to jazz. Not only do Joy Malcolm and Pamela Anderson bring all the insight and understatement of jazz singing to the vocals, but there's a strong sense of swing beneath the smooth, supple grooves (particularly on the title tune). Taken together, that brings an extra measure of depth and class to such songs as "Good Love" and "Spellbound and Speechless."