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SOUND BITES

Rock

Aquanettas, Roadhaus (Rockville Records) ++{

The recent alternative music scene has proved fertile territory for female groups and musicians. Liz Phair, P.J. Harvey, the Breeders (with a male drummer) and assorted bands fronted by or including women were successful in 1993. Add to the list of up-and-comers Aquanettas, a British group whose five-song EP shows promise despite thin lyrics. This from the tune Whoa!: She is free/she's got a key/me and mom behind the door/my heart pounding through the floor. The rhyming scheme doesn't get much more complex than this through all five songs. But the music on this independent release is solid, with some fine rhythm work from drummer Stephanie Seymour and bassist Claudine Troise. Aquanettas has an abrasive punk edge that manages to have a fresh sound. If they concentrate on sharper lyrics they'll be a band to watch in the new year. _ Nancy Weil

Barefoot Servants: Barefoot Servants (Epic Records) +++{

A blues rock summit featuring a pair of talented underachievers: Vocalist/guitarist Jon Butcher recorded a half dozen albums fronting the hard-rocking Jon Butcher Axis, while guitarist Ben Schultz, a former Tampa resident, has become a West Coast session stringer, and released his own album, Triality, a couple of years ago. Their debut album appears to be a mutual pairing, a sympathetic retooling of blues standards among their originals, with plenty of Allman Brothers-inspired hot guitar licks. Blues purists may wince that the musical references are closer to Canned Heat and ZZ Top than the original sources. For instance, the stand-out track here, Box of Miracles, draws directly from Rod Stewart's Every Picture Tells a Story _ not exactly the authenticity of Robert Johnson or Son House. _ Richard Proplesch

Michael Bolton: The One Thing (Columbia) ++

Formulaic? Heck, no. On this disc Michael Bolton breaks from the mold to produce ...

Okay, we tried to spice up this Bolton review, to make it different from the reviews of all his previous discs. But there's just no way to do it. Sure, this time Bolton strives a little harder to put down a sound with some emotion or depth to it, but it is relative, kind of like the difference between a fastball going 92 mph and one going 90 mph. Hard to distinguish.

Bolton has the obligatory overwrought songs that sell millions of copies, largely to female listeners, despite bad notices from the critics. He has the obligatory cover song: a not-too-bad version of the overused Lean on Me. And there are four songs with the word "love" in the title. That just about says it all. _ Wayne Garcia

R&B

Ralph Tresvant: It's Goin' Down (MCA) ++ {

In his second solo release, Ralph Tresvant, former lead singer of teen heartthrobs New Edition makes a bold attempt to come of age. Yet It's Goin' Down, which includes songs produced and written by mega producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, fails to deliver a mature sound. Although several years have passed since New Edition split, Tresvant still has that boyish, teenage sound, too young sounding for adults-only songs like Sex Maniac, The Booty Affair, G-Spot and Sex _ O. And many of the faster dance tunes on It's Goin' Down sound so cluttered, that Tresvant would do well to stick to ballads such as When I Need Somebody and Your Touch. _ Tracy Brown

Jazz

Benny Green Trio: That's Right ( Blue Note) ++++{

Heir apparent to the Oscar Peterson piano trio legacy, Benny Green, has assembled another relentlessly swinging collection of originals and standards. Retaining the energy of their previous "live" recording, Green, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Carl Allen display a muscular finesse that belies their youth. This well-organized and briskly programed recording will keep your toe tapping from beginning to end. Special mention must be made of McBride's bowed bass solo on Horace Silver's Me and My Baby. His command of this too-seldom-used jazz soloing technique shows why he is the hottest young bassist on the scene today, at 21. _ Mark Neuenschwander

Trilok Gurtu: Crazy Saints (CMP) +++

Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu, of John McLaughlin and Oregon fame, has produced his third and most ambitious recording for CMP. A diverse blend of jazz, rock and European and Indian classical music, Crazy Saints defies categorizing. Pat Metheny is a guest on two cuts, providing some fascinating interplay with Gurtu's mother Shobha, a prominent singer of Northern Indian classical dance music called "thumri." Joe Zawinul contributes two duets with Gurtu, improvising in the studio. The other three selections feature Gurtu's talent for incorporating tabla, percussion and drumset and French pianist Daniel Goyone's composing and arranging artistry with cello, bass and woodwind.

_ Mark Neuenschwander

Country

Collin Raye: Extremes (Sony) +++

Extremes is the most satisfying collection of songs yet from Collin Raye, though, as withhis previous albums, this one tends to be a tad too clever on the fun songs, too serious and syrupy on the love ballads.

On the other hand, Raye can flat-out sing better than most Music Row cowboys, even without a hat. No matter whether it's the redneck fun of My Kind of Girl _ she likes Merle Haggard, quotes William Faulkner and stayed "a Braves fan, even through the rotten years" _ or the serious ballad Little Rock, where a recovering alcoholic misses his old flame more than the bottle, Raye's vocals are top-notch. Extremes is good jukebox fare _ Raye's voice just deserves better material. _ Bill Hobbs

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