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SOUND CHECK.

Filter/``Title of Record'' (Reprise)

Four years after this proto-metal quartet made a multiformat splash with the widely misunderstood ``Hey Man, Nice Shot'' (turns out it wasn't about Kurt Cobain) comes an ambitious attempt to move beyond the pulse-pounding frenzy of Filter's platinum-selling debut. The work spent on ``Title of Record'' to broaden and refine the band's snarl is most evident on the folk-tinged ``Miss Blue'' and ``Take a Picture,'' two highly musical tracks that were probably impossible to imagine in 1995. Nonetheless, the dense wall of guitars and distorted electronic noise Filter fans probably expect can still be found on ``Skinny,'' which builds to a Led Zep-inspired socko finish. And the unhinged ``It's Gonna Kill Me'' suggests band leader Richard Patrick has been soaking up European drum 'n' bass, pointing to an interesting new direction. Best of all, though, is the hard-driving ``Welcome to the Fold,'' currently burning up the airwaves. Three stars

- Fred Shuster

Lou Bega/``A Little Bit of Mambo'' (RCA)

Forgotten the macarena? Here comes the mambo. Bega's saucy ``Mambo No. 5'' (``A Little Bit Of ...''), an update of the Perez Prado instrumental with added lyrics, has already conquered Europe and is currently among the most-added songs at U.S. radio. The summery dance-pop ditty, basically a litany of female names to a mambo beat, is admittedly hard to resist and Miami's Bega is sure not to stray from a winning formula on this just-released debut album. In songs such as ``Mambo Mambo,'' ``Beauty on the TV Screen'' and ``Can I Tico Tico You,'' he maintains a simple steady groove, aiming squarely for the dance floor. Will the mambo become as cloying as the macarena? Maybe. But right now, ``Mambo No. 5'' has legs. Two and one half stars

- F.S.

Various/``From Spirituals to Swing'' (Vanguard)

History comes alive in this three-disc box that documents the two concerts John Hammond organized at Carnegie Hall in 1938 and 1939. The shows were the first to spotlight African-American musicians at the venerable venue for an integrated audience, which doesn't sound like that big a deal today. But 60 years ago, Hammond couldn't even find a sponsor for such a controversial event until the Communist party's journal of culture, ``New Masses,'' stepped forward. The music here is anything but musty, ranging from gritty blues to foot-stomping boogie-woogie, as well as gospel, Dixieland and swing. There are several standout cuts from the Count Basie Orchestra featuring the late great trumpeter Harry ``Sweets'' Edison and tenor sax legend Lester Young, plus a rare pairing of Young and guitar great Charlie Christian on several swinging numbers. The sound isn't always pristine, but the musicianship more than overcomes any rough spots. Three and one half stars

- Glenn Whipp

Charlotte Church/``Voice of an Angel'' (Sony Classical)

Teens have taken over - but you already knew that. Welsh teeny tot soprano Church apparently started singing with the ``Ghostbusters'' theme, moving quickly onto Andrew Lloyd Webber and then ``Danny Boy.'' After sitting through her debut, which contains standard readings of ``Amazing Grace,'' ``The Lord's Prayer'' and ``Ave Maria,'' it quickly becomes clear Church is no Cecilia Bartoli. But a generation of teens that seeks reflections of itself in all the arts will probably add ``Voice of an Angel'' to its shopping list. Church appears Sept. 17-19 at the Hollywood Bowl. Two and one half stars

- F.S.

Javon Jackson/``Pleasant Valley'' (Blue Note)

Jackson, one of the most interesting jazz leaders working today, turns in another compelling set with his working band - organist Larry Goldings, drummer Billy Drummond and guitarist Dave Stryker. These guys played a good number of dates together before recording this album's nine songs in a single day. The musical telepathy is evident in both the well-chosen covers - old (Ellington's ``Sun Swept Sunday'' and new (Stevie Wonder's ``Don't You Worry About a Thing'' and the Al Green classic ``Love and Happiness'') and Jackson's varied originals. Goldings' organ gives the album the soulful down-home feel of a classic Jimmy Smith date, but ``Pleasant Valley'' is anything but a retro reworking. Jackson, who will play a five-night stand at the Jazz Bakery beginning Tuesday, boasts a voice that's all his own. Three and one half stars

- G.W.

Soundtrack/``Blue Streak: The Album'' (Sony)

Soundtrack/``Thomas Crown Affair'' (Pangea/Ark 21)

Soundtrack/``Best Laid Plans'' (Virgin)

There are basically two types of soundtracks these days - collections of previously released material and collections of retooled previously released material. Once in a while, something is actually penned exclusively for a film.

Typical of the genre is ``Blue Streak: The Album,'' an accessory to the Martin Lawrence comic adventure opening Sept. 17. The album is essentially a rap compilation featuring such proven hitmakers as Jay-Z, Tyrese with Heavy D, and Plush with Ja Rule, masterminded by producer Rodney Jerkins. You've heard it all before, but the disc is destined for the Top 50. Two stars

The romantic caper flick ``Thomas Crown Affair'' has spawned a nicely varied collection that moves from Nina Simone's 1965 ``Sinnerman'' to Sting's earnest rendition of the Oscar-winning ``Windmills of Your Mind,'' available only on this album. The biggest chunk of the record, though, is Bill Conti's lush, orchestrated score. Two stars

One early clue that the ``Best Laid Plans'' soundtrack would be worth hearing is the track listing that includes composer Craig Armstrong, among the first artists signed to Massive Attack's label, Melankolic. Armstrong's engaging score for the dark thriller, which opens today, successfully blends classical and electronic elements. A new Neneh Cherry song, ``Twisted Mess,'' joins well-chosen previously released stuff from Massive Attack, Mazzy Star, Gomez and Patsy Cline for one of the best film albums of the season. Three stars

- F.S.

Lionel Hampton and Oscar Peterson/``The Complete Quartets and Quintets'' (Verve)

This is a real find - a five-disc package pairing two of jazz's most distinct players. Most of this music, recorded in 1953 and '54, has never been issued on CD, and two of the cuts are seeing the light of day for the first time. Both Hampton on vibes and pianist Peterson were solidly rooted in swing, and the presence of drummer Buddy Rich further cements the rollicking nature of these sessions. Hampton seems inspired throughout, as these combos - featuring longtime Peterson cohorts Ray Brown on bass and guitarist Herb Ellis, along with Buddy DeFranco on clarinet - run through standard after standard with imaginative improvisations, playful purpose and subtle lyricism. A great package from a label that has made such reissues an art form. Four stars

- G.W.

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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:Sep 10, 1999
Words:1105
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