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SOUND CHECK : POP.

Shawn Colvin/``A Few Small Repairs''

It's been almost three years since Shawn Colvin cut an album of original material, and much has happened in the interim. For the Los Angeles-based singer, this has meant divorce and, judging by her new CD, a musical rebirth of sorts. ``A Few Small Repairs'' (Columbia), indeed.

Colvin has always walked the line between folk and pop with grace and real-world sensibility, but her talent hasn't translated into significant radio play.

That's about to change. The first single, ``Get Out of This House,'' is a driven, pop-infused tune that almost snarls - and FM has taken to it.

But it's misleading. Sure, Colvin is mad, but this disc is filled with more hope than hate. It rocks, but its roll is so light it feels like floating.

The catchy opener, ``Sunny Came Home,'' sets the tone of a collection that's both deeply personal and inviting. ``You and the Mona Lisa,'' ``84,000 Different Delusions'' and ``Nothing on Me'' are among the best songs Colvin has written.

Producer John Leventhal co-wrote many of the new numbers, but while his presence is felt, he gets out of Colvin's way. In the end, it's her voice and sentiments that come through. Four Stars

SOURCE: - Elizabeth M. Cosin

Karen Carpenter/``Karen Carpenter''

If heaven is a place like Palm Springs where nothing ever happens, Karen Carpenter rules the celestial airwaves.

Once dismissed as a chief purveyor of banal pap, Carpenter is now considered the easy-listening Kurt Cobain by pop revisionists who claim the pristine perfection of Carpenters hits like ``Top of the World'' and ``(They Long to Be) Close to You'' reveals something of the late singer's tragic personal life.

Due Tuesday is ``Karen Carpenter'' (A&M), a collection of Phil Ramone-produced solo sessions originally intended for release 16 years ago. Of the dozen tracks, four - ``If We Try,'' ``Lovelines,'' ``Remember When Lovin' Took All Night'' and ``If I Had You'' - first surfaced on the posthumous 1989 Carpenters album ``Lovelines.''

Although ``Karen Carpenter'' gives plenty of reasons to appreciate her perfect voice all over again, the disc is a mishmash of out-of-date styles, including disco-lite (``My Body Keeps Changing My Mind''), jazz-pop (``If I Had You'') and soft-rock (``Still in Love With You'').

Carpenter was always best when having her way with a ballad, and it's slow numbers such as ``All Because of You,'' ``If We Try'' and ``Make Believe It's Your First Time'' that save the day here. But if this was supposed to be Carpenter's ``soul'' album, think Anita Baker on Phen-Fen. Two Stars

SOURCE: - Fred Shuster

Crash Test Dummies/``A Worm's Life''

Whether you enjoy the Crash Test Dummies depends on how you feel about band leader Brad Roberts' smug lyrics and annoyingly deep baritone.

``A Worm's Life'' (Arista), the Canadian quintet's follow-up to its multimillion-selling ``God Shuffled His Feet'' album, adds prog-rock doodling to an already unfavorable recipe.

There's little here to catch the ear the same way the Dummies' fluke international hit ``Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm'' did in 1994. The new disc's first single, ``He Liked to Feel It,'' a meaningless tale about a boy who yanks out his own teeth, is as pretentious as everything else on display.

Nice title and cover art, though. One Star.

SOURCE: - Fred Shuster

Luther Vandross/``Your Secret Love''

Superstar soul smoothie Luther Vandross must believe in keeping the customers satisfied because his latest album sounds like everything else he's ever done.

Aside from the inclusion of a mediocre rap performance from Salt-N-Pepa's Spinderella on one track, the bulk of ``Your Secret Love'' (Epic) is interchangeable with any Vandross album of the past 15 years.

The new disc isn't without merits, though. The midtempo title track boasts a solid melody, the orchestral arrangement on ``Crazy Love'' seems fresh, and Vandross' vocals on ``I Can Make It Better'' illustrate just why he's so wildly popular. Two Stars

SOURCE: - Fred Shuster

JAZZ

Charlie Parker/``The Legendary Dial Masters''

These 50-year-old sessions are the cornerstone of any jazz collection or simply the perfect introduction to arguably the greatest saxophonist of all time.

Everything you need to know about Charlie Parker is apparent in the first four tracks of the essential ``The Legendary Dial Masters'' (Jazz Classics), an excellent two-CD packaging of oft-reissued material, minus alternate takes.

Here on ``Diggin' Diz,'' ``Moose the Mooche,'' ``Yardbird Suite'' and ``Ornithology,'' Parker, along with trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, can be heard developing the vocabulary of be-bop and, by extension, modern jazz.

Amazingly, these 30-odd tracks still sound contemporary, warm and devilishly confounding. Four Stars

SOURCE: - Fred Shuster

John Scofield/``Quiet''

Playing only nylon-string acoustic guitar, ex-Miles Davis sideman John Scofield has cut his most inviting album to date.

When using an electric, Scofield can be something of an evil genius, littering the musical landscape with shards of feedback-tinged chords. On ``Quiet'' (Verve), he's part of an ensemble, and the give-and-take with such sturdy rhythm players as drummer Steve Stewart and bassist Steve Swallow have made Scofield a more sensitive improviser. Wayne Shorter provides overdubbed solos on some tracks.

``Quiet'' is a winner. Four Stars

SOURCE: - Fred Shuster

CAPTION(S):

6 Photos

Photo: (1) Originally intended for release 16 years ago, Karen Carpenter's Phil Ramone-produced solo album is a mix of musical styles, including jazz-pop, soft-rock and disco-lite.

(2--6) no caption (CD covers)
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Oct 4, 1996
Words:889
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