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CRITICS' CHOICES

POP MUSIC

WORKING UP SWEAT

We heard from Keith Sweat by phone right before the first date in the "Triple Threat Tour" in Syracuse last week and, although the 80-city trek was just getting started, the singer was working hard already. "I've been up all night rehearsing," he said.

Sweat, a former Wall Street employee whose multiplatinum 1988 album, "Make It Last Forever," was that year's most successful debut, is scoring again with his second release, "I'll Give All My Love to You," which has just delivered its third hit single. A man of forthright romantic overtures, Sweat can pour it on both ways -- up-tempo as an exponent of "new jack swing," that mixture of rap and R & B singing, and mellowed down in traditional balladry, like his current hit, "Merry Go Round."

Sweat headlines the triple bill that comes to Memorial Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. "That's where everybody thought I should be," he said. "I guess it's because I've sold more records."

Sweat will top off what shapes up as a premier showcase of the best black pop crossover acts of 1990. With him are two offshoots of New Edition, the group New Kids on the Block producer Maurice Starr groomed as the new Jackson Five in the early '80s. Now they've become stars on their own. One is Johnny Gill, who replaced departed New Edition singer Bobby Brown. The other is Bell Biv DeVoe, made up of New Edition background singers Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe, who scored big in the new jack swing groove with their first solo album, "Poison."

-- Dale Anderson

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