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There's an eerie contentedness to most of ``Maladjusted,'' mope-king Morrissey's eighth dissertation on anguished social misfits, sweet and tender hooligans and brooding outsiders. The problem in enjoying Morrissey as commentator, however, is that, as a social satirist, he's no Ray Davies. Even when his tunes catch your ear (as they do on quite a few here, especially ``Roy's Keen'' and ``He Cried''), their author remains too self-indulgent and verbose when he should be cutting and concise. ``Maladjusted'' is merely an average recapitulation of themes better examined on earlier efforts. Two and One Half Stars

?13- Ben Wener

Orange County Register

Smash Mouth/``Fush Yu Mang''

As with the recent Sugar Ray album, it's easy to be misled by the debut release from San Jose's Smash Mouth. Judging from the track getting airplay, the slinky, '60s-ish ``Walkin' on the Sun,'' which sounds like the old English punk-era band the Stranglers if they'd grown up amid West Coast sprawl, Smash Mouth doesn't really call to mind any of its Cali contemporaries. Sadly, that's not true of ``Fush Yu Mang,'' an album that walks down the now-rutted punk-ska road so many young bands travel these days. Having said that, the quartet plays it all with an infectious energy and comes up with some genuinely funny lyrics. Whether talking about partying to Louis Prima and drinking Meisterbrau while the next-door neighbor fumes about the noise (``Heave Ho''), contemplating important issues of the day (``Let's Rock''), falling out of love (``Pet Names''), homeless youth (the Clash-like ``Nervous in the Alley''), Smash Mouth makes crafty, hooky, teen-age party music. Two and One Half Stars

?13- Cary Darling

Orange County Register

Luis Miguel/``Romances''

On his last album, ``Nada Es Igual,'' Luis Miguel rolled out a slick rhythmfest of dance tracks and ready-for-top-40 ballads that went platinum in the United States and in more than 13 Spanish-speaking countries. But with ``Romances,'' the artist dons a tux for the album cover and takes a breather, returning to an earlier theme in his career ``musica romantica.'' It's his basic balladeering that keeps him at the top of the Enrique Iglesia-Juan Gabriel heap. Michael Bolton could take a lesson in taste from this guy; in pacing, choice of material and delivery he's simply a class act. Songs such as ``Amanecer,'' ``Contigo'' and ``Jurame'' ooze romantic ambience. So dust off that paella recipe, light the candles and pour the Chilean merlot - if you can't make the magic happen with this sexy soundtrack, you need a serious make-over. Three Stars

?13- Anne Valdespino

Orange County Register

David Ryan Harris/``David Ryan Harris''

To develop the direction for his first solo project, ex-Follow for Now vocalist and songwriter David Ryan Harris used two important albums as guideposts: the Bad Brains' punk classic ``I Against I'' and Stevie Wonder's ``Songs in the Key of Life.'' Both extremes - undiluted energy, polished songcraft - are represented on this intermittently brilliant debut, but Harris never stays in one place for long. ``Sympathy for the Crow,'' the album's most ambitious composition, juxtaposes towering rock verses with a fierce, grinding funk chorus, while the elegantly sung ``If I Had a Dime'' emulates the wistful ache of a Seal ballad. Harris' eclecticism was probably one reason he was signed to master producer Brendan O'Brien's new 57 imprint, but it's also his undoing: past track five, the jaunty ``Tricks Up My Sleeve,'' Harris dabbles in one style after another, a display of range that is plenty accomplished, but sometimes soulless. Two and One Half Stars

?13- Tom Moon

Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire

Mary Coughlan/``After the Fall''

Irish blues/folk singer/songwriter Mary Coughlan returns from a long absence with a song cycle that, better than any in recent memory, eloquently captures the struggles and joys of adulthood. Backed by a sparse ensemble of acoustic instruments, she sings with the knowing confidence of one who has lived several lifetimes and learned life's lessons the hard way, but somehow emerged with more hope than bitterness. Among the highlights of a brilliant album are the empowering ``Woman Undone,'' the life-affirming ``Still in Love,'' the sensual ``Sunburn,'' the touching ``John Fell off the Work-Around,'' the blues classic ``Nobody'' and the Judy Garland tribute ``Saint Judy.'' To borrow a Yeats phrase about Ireland itself, this is a terrible beauty of an album. Three and One Half Stars

?13- Billboard

Honeydogs/``Seen a Ghost''

With its third release, the Honeydogs finally seem to be breaking the chains. Refusing to give up on the heartland strains that have fueled the group for so long, the Honeydogs are more secure in their abilities, whether it's running down dusty roads or recapturing a dirty rock grit a la the Stones. With the winsome tones of ``Sweet Pea,'' the bouncy shuffle of ``Mainline'' and the remorseful (previously released) ``Those Things Are Hers,'' the 'dogs have streamlined their sound, tossing those elements that didn't work. ``I Miss You'' is a treasure, a heartfelt true-love tribute addressing faithfulness and the challenges of a traveling man. ``Cherub'' captures a loose-limbed garage vibe, revealing a spirited honesty, as do the plaintive vocals on ``Sans Sucre.'' Three Stars

?13- Vickie Gilmer

Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire

Robyn/``Robyn Is Here''

You have to be suspicious of a new artist who releases a debut album with fan club information printed prominently on the cover. You suspect the hype is overwhelming the substance. In the case of Swedish singer Robyn, you'd be right. If Robyn's machine-driven, pop/hip-hop/dance drivel was any more generic, it would be sold at your local pharmacy alongside the other bargain pills. ``Robyn Is Here'' boasts one top-10 hit - the disposable ``Do You Know (What It Takes)'' - and pop radio, being what it is, might allow for one more before we start saying ``Robyn Was Here.'' One Star

?13- Howard Cohen

Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire

Kenny Garrett/``Songbook''

Kenny Garrett's career is reaching the superlative stage. The alto saxophonist drives his horn at a blistering pace on ``Songbook,'' his first CD devoted to his own tunes. The initial compositions possess a kinetic energy reminiscent of be-bop's salad days, thanks in no small part to the efforts of pianist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Jeff (Tain) Watts. Garrett, though, plays from a plateau above the norm. He scorches through a couple of tunes before relaxing in the nurturing space of ``Wooden Steps,'' a happenin' ditty with melodic and even gospel potential. Garrett, in short, plays with the heart and the head. It's possible to feel his emotional intensity while marveling at his technique. His hard bop isn't so hard-headed. Four Stars

?13- Karl Stark

Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire


2 Photos

Photo: (1) San Jose's Smash Mouth treads familiar punk-ska territory on ``Fush Yu Mang.''

(2) Morrissey, Manchester's pope of mope, returns with a new album, ``Maladjusted.''
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, 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)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Aug 29, 1997

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