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POP MUSIC : David Lee Roth's Ham on Wry, With Lots of Mustard : DAVID LEE ROTH "A Little Ain't Enough" Warner Bros. ** 1/2

January 27, 1991|MIKE BOEHM

Roth's fourth solo release serves up his usual ham on wry with a wide stylistic spread that suggests he's out to appeal to every hard-rock taste.

The title song reprises Van Halen's catchy, synth-driven "Jump" formula; before the album is over, David Lee has blithely skipped from the Stones to Led Zeppelin to ZZ Top, done the slick outlaw-epic thing much better than Bon Jovi, belted some smoky blues a la Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet," heartily ripped off Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," and even waded in Creedence's friendly neighborhood swamp. Production varnish, however, keeps this from being a real roots exploration.

While the album is melodically thin, most of it rocks authoritatively, the Steve Hunter/Jason Becker guitar team playing it straighter and more bluesily basic than Roth's heralded former foils, Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai. Roth gets the most out of his limited singing voice on numbers like "Hammerhead Shark" and "Sensible Shoes," where he fleshes out comic roles with engaging swagger, knowing pop allusions and clever turns of phrase. Roth doesn't think about much more than girls, girls, girls, but at least he brings a sense of humor to the dirty job of being a bad-boy stud. Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to five (a classic).

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