* * 1/2 BELINDA CARLISLE. "Heaven on Earth." MCA. This album is a big improvement over last year's "Belinda," Carlisle's debut solo album. That album was so nondescript that it made her seem foolhardy for leaving the Go-Go's, the female band she fronted through several effervescent albums. On "Belinda," she even managed to sound out of her depth on "Band of Gold," a lightweight '70s pop/soul hit by Freda Payne that should have given no problems to a confident, style-conscious singer. The overall image of Carlisle on the album was one of discomfort, as if in the back if her wind she was wondering, "Have I made the wrong move?"
Carlisle comes across stronger on this follow-up effort as she aims for commercial gusto on the album's most inviting track, the anthemic "Heaven Is a Place on Earth." While that cut rocks authoritatively, her remake of Cream's "I Feel Free"--which isn't even one of that '60s band's better tunes--sounds wobbly and awkward in spots; other tracks ("Circle in the Sand," "World Without Love") have her sounding a bit tentative.
Side 2 picks up considerably, opening with "I Get Weak," in which Carlisle observes with coy submission, "My heart's all tangled up / My tongue is tied / It's crazy. . . ." With its layered, overlapping harmonies, the song is a virtual hook-fest, not unlike "Fool for Love," a driving rocker that gives Carlisle plenty of room to shift into vocal overdrive.