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Pop Album Reviews

March 24, 1985

RUN-D.M.C., "King of Rock," Profile. Joseph Simmons and Daryll McDaniels are the Paul Bunyans of modern urban culture. No one in rap has snappier vocals, no toasters boast with a craftier use of words, and no rappers' humor is funnier. In Texas there's a saying: "If you're as good as you say you are, it ain't bragging." Run-D.M.C. ain't bragging (Terry Atkinson).

SADE, "Diamond Life," Portrait. Like Boy George, Sade knows how to clamp personal style onto recycled R&B idioms and make it all look invitingly new. Despite her glamour-girl image, there's an earthy substance to some of the cuts--not much substance, but enough to draw you back for another listen (Connie Johnson).

THE SMITHS, "Meat Is Murder," Warner Bros. An erratic but challenging second album from one of England's great pop hopes. The sound is simple and evocative, and the problem is vocalist Morrisey's sing-song warble. The Smiths are capable of great, visionary pop. When Morrisey expands beyond his affectations the band might finally live up to his reputation (Craig Lee).

RICHARD THOMPSON, "Across a Crowded Room," PolyGram. The mood is not always so dark and indulgent as the disquieting centerpiece, "Love in a Faithless Country." Thompson almost completely belies his Fairport Convention roots with a trunkload of gritty rockers, and his pet Celticisms no more stand out or inhibit the spirit than do, say, Los Lobos' Mexican influences in their brand of rock (Chris Willman).

TUPELO CHAIN SEX, "Spot the Difference," Selma. The eccentric L.A. combo combines revolutionary politics with revolutionary sounds. The mix-and-match cross-cultural approach borders on anarchy; what's surprising is how cohesively the group puts its jagged musical jigsaw pieces together. It's weird, but it works (Craig Lee).

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, "V.U.," Verve/PolyGram. This is the long-lost "fourth" Velvet Underground album that stayed unreleased for 15 years, presumably because it was ahead of its time. It still is. All the mystery, tension and stark beauty that was the Velvet Underground remain inviolate and in violet (Don Waller).

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