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Chris Cuffaro

Various Artists
One Amazing Night

Few songwriters can match Burt Bacharach's knack for crafting unforgettable tunes. Matching hummable melodies with willowy arrangements, he makes listening to MOR hip. One Amazing Night (N2K) is a fitting tribute. Recorded live at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, the album brings together a panoply of pop singers to interpret Bacharach's greatest hits. Sheryl Crowe offers an affectingly unadorned reading of "One Less Bell to Answer"; Barenaked Ladies lay down a jazz-embellished take on "They Long to Be Close to You." On "God Give Me Strength," a song he co-wrote with Bacharach, Elvis Costello gives a performance that is alternately visceral and vulnerable. The tribute would be incomplete without Dionne Warwick, who offers a winningly breezy medley of chart-toppers "Walk on By/Say a Little Prayer/Do You Know the Way to San Jose." (Nicky Baxter)

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The Controls One Hundred
Sm:)e Records

The Problem with the Control's One Hundred is that comparisons to other, better, records come so easily that they overshadow the album itself. Reminiscent of Portishead and old Massive Attack, One Hundred is all deep hip-hop bass, moody samples and snaky, bluesy female vocals. It's a combination we've all heard before, but it's also one that almost always works, and so the album is lulling and catchy without ever being original. Still, on a few songs--most notably the plaintive, slightly sinister "You'll Hide" and the alternately angry and ethereal "Home Again"--the band shows some soul, suggesting that it may eventually transcend its influences. (Michelle Goldberg)

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April March
Chrominance Decoder
Ideal Records

April March's Chrominance Decoder coincides perfectly with the recent mania for sunny French pop. Crisp, light and a bit twee, March's innocent, girlish voice rings over lush easy-listening orchestrations to create delightful, sugary summertime music. Though about half the album's songs are in English, the French tracks are far more endearing, at least in part because the language lends mystery and exoticism to otherwise pedestrian lyrics. Beyond that, the mellifluous tongue complements the sparkly retro melodies, with all their polished horns and synchronized backup singers. Highlights include the adorable "Mon Petit Ami," which I can imagine gorgeous knee-sock-wearing French children singing as they jump rope. The two remixes of Dust Brothers numbers are also particularly charming. (MG)

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From the March 25-31, 1999 issue of Metro.

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