“Pulse” - Columbia
Featuring a complete performance of “The Dark Side Of The Moon” and verbatim readings of such other Floyd staples as “Comfortably Numb,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” this double live set is an exercise in redundancy, since every track on it is a carbon copy of the corresponding album version. Nevertheless, hit-making potential of anything with the Floyd name on it makes “Pulse” a contender for hit status. It’s also a conversation piece, being the first CD package to feature a blinking red light in the spine.
“Original Music From The Motion Picture Batman Forever” - Atlantic
Featuring such hot sellers as U2, PJ Harvey, Brandy (with Lenny Kravitz), Seal, Massive Attack With Tracey Thorn, Mazzy Star, Offspring, and Method Man, newest “Batman” soundtrack is as musically entertaining as it is dazzling for its star appeal. Led by U2 single “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” album keeps pace with such other stellar submissions as Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose,” Brandy’s “Where Are You Now,” and dark-horse entries from Eddi Reader, Nick Cave, Michael Hutchence, the Devlins, Sunny Day Real Estate, and the Flaming Lips. An all-out winner.
“Sons of Beaches” - Bellamy Brothers
Howard and David Bellamy continue to make the same great music that made them country staples in the ‘80s. This 14-song disc percolates with Caribbean-influenced country rhythms and infectious melodies. The lyrics display the Bellamys’ trademark humor, tempered with philosophical insight, especially on “Old Hippie (The Sequel).” Other outstanding cuts include “We Dared The Lightning,” “Native American,” “Feel Free,” and “Jesus Is Coming.” Playful and poignant, this is easily one of the best country albums this year.
Bob Marley & the Wailers
“Natural Mystic: The Legend Lives On” - Tuff Gong/Island
Aimed at an audience other than roots completists, this greatest-hits-style sequel to the towering “Legend” compilation is the perfect adjunct to that phenomenal sales leader, distilling the socially conscious high points of Marley’s dread danceability in a second, equally visionary volume. The remastering is impeccable, and the gospel-shaded remix of “Keep On Moving” is sure to find a welcome reception. The anthology also makes a fit 50th birthday complement to “Bob Marley: Songs Of Freedom,” photographer Adrian Boot and writer Chris Salewicz’s fun coffeetable-book tribute to the Tuff Gong.
“Trinity” - Tabu/Motown
South Africa’s honey-voiced reggae superstar returns with a handsomely produced follow-up to his killer “Victims,” steeped in the eloquent songwriting and dramatic flair that are Lucky’s trademarks.
There are manifold gems on this sweeping 11-song panorama, which luxuriates in the horns-embossed joy of big-band pan-African reggae. Lovely, jazz-flavored “Big Boys Don’t Cry” is a real find. Only misstep is overwrought “You Got No Right.”