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Bryan Adams/``18 Til I Die''

Judging by some of the adolescent quirks on Bryan Adams' first studio CD in five years, you get the idea he's taking the album title, ``18 Til I Die,'' a tad too seriously: ``The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You''? ``(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear''? Enough said.

Nice to see Adams is putting some of this youthful snark and zest back into his music. We were getting worried about Bry after all those soporific ballads he's hit with lately. ``18 Til I Die'' (A&M) still features an overabundance of soggy movie themes, but forget 'em. The album is primarily packed with bouncy, fun - albeit dumb - rock.

Such as the rocking first single, ``The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You.'' With its ZZ Top-style guitar and beat spurring his raspy voice on, Adams hasn't sounded this alive since the '80s. Adams should remain a juvenile longer. It fits him. Three Stars

SOURCE: - Howard Cohen

Me'Shell Ndegeocello/``Peace Beyond Passion''

Me'Shell NdegeOcello's surname means ``free like a bird'' in Swahili. Yet the first single on this CD, ``Leviticus: Faggot,'' is not quite so free to fly with mainstream radio. Despite a distinctive string arrangement by Paul Riser (Temptations' ``Papa Was a Rolling Stone''), which makes the tune readily commercial, programmers are balking at its potent examination of homophobia and have widely refused to air it. Apparently, we are being protected from a pointed plea for tolerance while those same stations have little qualms about airing a song depicting a sexual act label-mate Alanis Morissette performs in a theater.

It's a pity, because the intelligent, calculation-free ``Peace Beyond Passion'' (Maverick/Reprise) deserves to be heard. Even more so than ``Plantation Lullabies,'' her 1993 debut, ``Peace'' merges religious imagery and sexuality but with funk/r&b/hip-hop arrangements that are more accessible and musical. Three Stars

SOURCE: - Howard Cohen

Cher/``It's a Man's World''

On Cher's first album in five years (she's back from the infomercial graveyard, it appears), she's taking chances again, ditching the commercially outdated Bon Jovi-styled rock of her last three CDs in favor of a slightly more modern pop approach. She's even singing in a previously untapped silky falsetto on the club-ready ``One by One.''

But even these attempts can't save ``It's a Man's World,'' a woefully inept collection of overproduced remakes of songs mostly popularized or written by men - Marc Cohn's ``Walking in Memphis,'' Don Henley's ``Not Enough Love in the World,'' the James Brown title track, etc. Awful, one and all, and lacking Cher's usual flair. She never once inhabits any of the songs, save a quietly affecting performance of ``The Gunman.'' The worst offender is an insultingly frivolous, danceable ``Paradise Is Here'' (to see how it should be sung, check out Tina Turner's 1986 version on her ``Break Every Rule'' CD). One Star

SOURCE: - Howard Cohen

Bardo Pond/``Amanita''

Want to get high without artificial means? Turn on the lava lamp, burn some incense, lie between the speakers and suck up some of this Philadelphia band's trippy, sensual, ambient rock on ``Amanita'' (Matador).

Atmosphere is everything - buzzing, sinewy guitar lines meandering in bluesy/snake-charmer progressions with bass notes that blub like dripping water droplets, and with sleepy drum fills that induce a catatonic effect.

All the while, moody singer Isabel Sollenberger wails faintly in the background 'bout not much in particular: ``Sometimes words fade away, sometimes I don't know what to say,'' she confesses in her most cogent, coherent moment. Hey, this distracted space cadet makes the Cowboy Junkies' Margo Timmins seem like Ms. Gregarious. Fans of early Pink Floyd, Brian Eno and Dead Can Dance might appreciate this head-spinner, though for me the buzz wore off fast. Two Stars

SOURCE: - Jonathan Takiff

soundtracks Various/``Stealing Beauty''

Except for a midway double shot of funk and buzzing guitars (Stevie Wonder's ``Superstition,'' Liz Phair's ``Rocket Boy''), this movie disc (Capitol) prefers to keep the groove in second gear. Which is ultimately OK, because the low-key hooks come in the form of lovely Bristol noir (Portishead's ``Glory Box''), cool city blues (John Lee Hooker's ``Annie Mae'') and transcendent pop (Sam Phillips' ``I Need Love'').

SOURCE: - Brian McCollum

jazz Charlie Hunter Quartet/``Ready ... Set ... Shango!''

San Francisco guitarist Charlie Hunter takes a cool approach to soul jazz on this quartet recording (Blue Note). With his eight-string guitar, Hunter lays down steaming solos and ardent backup for tenor saxophonist Dave Ellis and alto saxophonist Calder Spanier.

The CD kicks off with restrained intensity from drummer Scott Amendola on ``Ashby Man'' and ``Teabaggin','' and generates a lot of stylish heat - the kind you can shimmy or snuggle to. Unfortunately, the later tunes lack the punch of the openers. The closer Hunter and company stick to a happenin' soul vibe, the better off they are. Three Stars

SOURCE: - Karl Stark


4 Photos

Photo: (1) Despite its radio-friendly rhythms, the plain -speaking lyrics of Me'Shell Ndegeocello's plea for tolerance on the new ``Peace Beyond Passion'' CD are keeping it off the air.

(2) On ``It's a Man's World,'' Cher takes possession of songs originally sung by men.

(3) In its best moments, the Charlie Hunter Quartet's ``Ready ... Set ... Shango!'' generates a sort of stylish heat.

(4) no caption (``Stealing Beauty'' soundtrack)
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 28, 1996

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