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** SOUL II SOUL "Vol. II--1990 --A New Decade" Virgin : Albums are rated from one star (poor) to five stars (a classic).

May 27, 1990|DENNIS HUNT

Soul II Soul's "Keep on Movin'," one of last year's best albums, was a revelation, pushing the soul-jazz-rap amalgam toward a new frontier. This time, though, the only thing new that Soul II Soul is moving toward is New Age.

Many of the tracks on this severely disappointing album have a lackluster, New-Age feel--one step above elevator music. Soul II Soul's loping funk rhythms, which were crackling on the last album, are mostly somnambulistic this time. The lyrics, delivered by an assortment of female singers, are riddled with bargain-basement spiritualism.

Leader Jazzie B, orchestrator of the Soul II Soul albums and basically an arranger and producer, has obviously taken a wrong turn toward watered-down soul-jazz. Many tracks seem barren of interesting ideas. Others, like the title cut and "Get a Life," feature meaty ideas that have been sabotaged by harebrained arranging touches.

However, it's not all bad. The gently funky instrumental "Courtney Blows" features the shimmering sax solos of Courtney Pine. It's so good it makes you wonder what it's doing on this album.

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