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SOUND CHECK : ROCK.

John Mellencamp/``Mr. Happy Go Lucky''

No one could accuse John Mellencamp of flouting convention, even though parts of his previous album, ``Dance Naked,'' veered into the unexpected.

This Hoosier has always worn his Midwest rocker identity like an old pair of work boots - just some clean, solid (occasionally exceptional) rock 'n' roll, thank you very much.

But that was before Mellencamp hooked up with mixmaster Junior Vasquez and hip-hop keyboardist-rapper Moe Z. M.D. for his new album, ``Mr. Happy Go Lucky'' (Mercury), a sometimes daring, always unconventional and mostly interesting new album from Indiana's chief pop icon.

The radio hit, ``Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First),'' is easily the disc's most infectious track, one that makes clever use of hip-hop beats, saloon-rock hooks and Mellencamp's skillful way with words. His voice is served well here, often seeming to be floating in tandem with the groove.

Other cuts, such as ``Just Another Day'' and ``Circling Around the Moon,'' also prove this cross-genre experiment successful, while the funky ``Life Is Hard'' is to dance for. Three stars

SOURCE: - Elizabeth M. Cosin

Various/``The Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame''

Although the actual 1995 all-star concert that opened Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was panned by many critics, this two-CD document of the event is inexplicably full of surprises.

The rock spectrum is well-represented, from Soul Asylum to Al Green, Bruce Springsteen to George Clinton, Bob Dylan to the Pretenders, and Johnny Cash to Iggy Pop.

The highlights are many: John Fogerty, backed by Booker T. & the MG's (the event's house band), knocking out great versions of ``Born on the Bayou'' and ``Fortunate Son''; Green's jaw-dropping ``A Change Is Gonna Come''; Steve Cropper's soulful guitar work on the MG's standard, ``Green Onions''; Lou Reed and Soul Asylum joining forces for the Velvet Underground's ``Sweet Jane.''

``The Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'' (Columbia) shows you can't believe everything you read. Three stars

SOURCE: - Fred Shuster

Doyle Bramhall II/``Doyle Bramhall II''

Austin, Texas-born guitarist-singer Doyle Bramhall II (ex-Fabulous Thunderbirds, Arc Angels) may have been steeped in the blues growing up, but he embraces pop-soul on his debut solo album.

With the production team of former Prince collaborators Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman at the helm of ``Doyle Bramhall II'' (Geffen), the album boasts imaginative blue-eyed soul arrangements and the surprisingly emotive singing of Bramhall.

The best tracks include the radio-friendly first single, ``The Reason I Live,'' ``Songs From the Grave'' and ``Stay a While.'' Not a guitar album, a song album. Three stars

SOURCE: - F.S.

Ocean Color Scene/``Moseley Shoals''

Steve Cradock, Ocean Color Scene's guitarist, became widely known a few years ago when Paul Weller recruited him for his road band.

Now back in his own group, Cradock is one of the reasons to check out ``Moseley Shoals'' (MCA), the Birmingham, England-based quartet's debut album.

Actually, Ocean Color Scene's sound resembles Weller's famous hybrid of '60s Britrock and r&b influences. With songs as good as ``You've Got It Bad,'' ``The Riverboat Song'' and ``Lining Your Pockets,'' Ocean Color Scene might be around for a while. Three stars

SOURCE: - F.S.

jazz

B Sharp Jazz Quartet/``Searching for the One''

Mixing straight-ahead be-bop, modern grooves and pure instrumental chops, the members of Los Angeles' own B Sharp Jazz Quartet could never be accused of attempting to jump on the smooth-jazz bandwagon.

``Searching for the One'' (MAMA Foundation), the band's third effort, swings with confidence. The music here is modern-sounding and the players solo with attitude.

Among the album's surprises are the innovative use of keyboards and the spoken-word performances that bookend the disc.

Although the B Sharp party line has it that nobody solos, at the same time everyone does, contributions from saxophonist Randall Willis and drummer Herb Graham stand out. Three stars

SOURCE: - F.S.

Liz Story/``Liz Story''

Pianist Liz Story's eponymous eighth album is her second collection of pop standards.

The opener, ``The Very Thought of You,'' is perfectly suited to her laid-back style, and her languid reading of ``Mack the Knife'' also works well. She's a fine pianist, and though the new disc will appeal to fans, Story's interpretations lack emotional resonance.

If you're unfamiliar with standards, this Windham Hill release makes a good introduction. For the definitive treatment, however, look up the lyrical keyboardist Bill Evans. Two stars

SOURCE: - E.M.C.

WORLD BEAT

Various/``Sound of the Beat: 15 Years of Rhythm and Roots''

Here's a marvelously compiled and highly recommended introduction to many of the world's most fascinating rhythms and artists.

If there's one complaint, it's that the double-CD ``Sound of the Beat: 15 Years of Rhythm and Roots'' (Right Stuff) isn't long enough. But what's included is the cream of the crop.

Check out tasty tracks from Jamaica's Mighty Diamonds, Haiti's Tabou Combo, Nigeria's Fela Kuti and Brazil's Gal Costa. And while you're at it, buy the monthly, locally published world-beat music magazine that lends this compilation its name.

SOURCE: - F.S.

CAPTION(S):

6 Photos

Photo: (1) Fela Kuti contributes a track to ``Sound of t he Beat: 15 Years of Rhythm and Roots.''

(2) No caption (Album cover for ``Mr. Happy Go Lucky'')

(3) No caption (Album cover for ``The Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'')

(4) No caption (Album cover for ``Doyle Bramhall II'')

(5) No caption (Album cover for ``Moseley Shoals'')

(6) No caption (Album cover for ``Searching for the One'')
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Review; L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 13, 1996
Words:916
Previous Article:NO REPLACEMENTS, JUST WESTERBERG GOING IT ALONE.
Next Article:MELLENCAMP SHIFTS FOCUS AFTER HEART-ATTACK RECOVERY.


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