** 1/2 BOZ SCAGGS. "Other Roads." Columbia. After an eight-year layoff, Scaggs returns with a well-crafted but uneven record that's a little too stylish and up-to-date for its own good. Scaggs' assured, R&B-flavored singing goes down smoothly, and a supporting cast that includes members of Toto dabs on plenty of polish in a variety of settings. Boz bogs down in spots, playing it safe and dull with formulaic exercises. But much of the album has an appealing, jazz-tinged shimmer that recalls Steely Dan or recent work by Sting and Anita Baker. Scaggs offers occasional substance to go with the style, notably on "What's Number One?" a glimpse of a '60s idealist adrift in the '80s. "I'll search on, cutting through against the grain," vows the song's protagonist. Scaggs himself is mostly content to go with the flow as he eases back into the commercial mainstream with an album that finds some pleasant currents.
CHECK LIST **** Great Balls of Fire *** Good Vibrations ** Maybe Baby * Running on Empty