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POP : Do You Hear What We Hear? : Prick up your antlers: Calendar's annual recordings guide is here to help you sift through the year's notable pop, jazz, classical, children's and holiday music--and the best of the box sets. : Separating Best Bets From Lumps of Coal

November 27, 1994|Chris Willman

Calendar's pop staff surveys 40 of the nation's most popular or critically acclaimed albums :

*** MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER, "Stones in the Road," Columbia. Remarkable word-craft, but you might wish that the melodies had the rapture or rhapsody to put the words across for all they're worth.

** 1/2 MADONNA, "Bedtime Stories," Sire. The soft Madonna is back. The least remarkable of all her albums but not necessarily the least of them, it has a nice, consistently relaxed feel and strings of non-ironic cliches.

**** JONI MITCHELL, "Turbulent Indigo," Reprise. Mitchell has written some of her most subtly beautiful melodies in ages in the service of testy miniatures about abuse, injustice, hypocrisy and loneliness.

*** TOM PETTY, "Wildflowers," Warner Bros. His third straight album in a more stark and somber mode. Inconsistent, and without any songs that rank with his greatest, but his mixture has an interesting, subtle resonance.

*** 1/2 BARBRA STREISAND, "The Concert," Columbia. Her unsurpassed voice says everything it needs to about Streisand, and plenty about the way we were in the last gasps of Broadway's golden hours.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good, recommended) and four stars (excellent). A rating of five stars is reserved for reissues or retrospectives.

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