Robert Palmer Don't Explain (EMI 93935 Capitol). First he serves up a volley of punchy dance tracks in the hyperventi lated groove of his megahit "Addicted to Love" (a likely successor to it is called "Mess Around"), then without warn ing he wanders off into cocktail lounge heaven, warbling "People Will Say We're in Love." Could it be that Palmer aspires to croon standards, but doesn't dare give up his dance addiction? Rating:** 1/2 . -- Dale Anderson
HOT TUNA, Pair a Dice Found (Epic EK-46831). The resurrec tion of a pair of hippie virtuosos from the original Jefferson Airplane band for a set of quirky and vaguely menacing blues (including the vintage Barry McGuire "Eve of Destruction"). Recommended to the duo's old fans. Rating: .*** -- D. A.
Blues James Cotton, Junior Wells, Carey Bell, Billy Branch, Harp Attack! (Alligator ALCD 4790). At a glance, this might seem like a harp overdose, with four of Chicago's leading harmonica lights assembled for a big-time blowathon. All-star sessions often generate more hysteria than heat. Rather than a competition, though, this is a collaboration -- lead vocalists and soloists alternate, and seven of the 11 tunes feature just one or two of the four. Although song selection includes a few chestnuts, even these are imaginatively arranged. A stellar backup band, including Buffalo native Lucky Peterson on piano, generates a clean, crisp attack. Although none of the featured four is a commanding vocalist, they are all at least adequate. Delightful modern Chicago blues. Rating: ***
-- Donn Esmonde
Classical Vaughan Williams , Serenade to Music, Five Mystical Songs, Flos Campi, Fantasia on Christmas Carols; baritone Thomas Allen, violist Nabuko Imai, Corydon Singers, English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Matthew Best (Hyperion 66420). Ex cept for the "Fantasia on Carols," which is well-crafted but unexceptional, these works are all top-drawer Vaughan Wil liams and receive extremely sensitive performances here. The gauzy and sensuous "Flos Campi" evokes the Song of Solo mon with wordless chorus and spellbinding viola meditations; the "Serenade" is a richly textured, pastoral setting of Shake speare's praise of music from "Merchant of Venice" in the original version for 16 solo singers, and the "Mystical Songs" are settings of George Herbert's visionary, uplifting and, yes, mystical poems, sung to perfection by Allen and the choir. A must for Vaughan Williams devotees. -- Herman Trotter
Movie Music Danny Elfman , Edward Scissorhands soundtrack music (MCA- MCAD-10133). RANDY NEWMAN Avalon sound track music (Reprise 9-26437-2). JERRY GOLDSMITH, The Russia House soundtrack music (MCA-MCAD-10136). Three current movie soundtracks in the grand symphonic style. Goldsmith's moody, atmospheric but otherwise negligible mu sic features fine playing by Branford Marsalis. Rating: 1/2 Newman's music for Barry Levinson's "Avalon" isn't nearly as marvelous as his music for "The Natural" and even, at times, carries the the pathos a bit too far, for all its evocative wistfulness and nostalgia. Rating: Elfman, on the other hand, is true to the hottest streak of any Hollywood composer. He carries the Once Upon a Time-iness of the music to extremes but, as is so often the case these days, his music adds immeasurably to the film and stands enchantingly on its own. Rating:*** 1/2 -- Jeff Simon
top Ten SINGLES
(1) Justify My Love, Madonna (Sire). (2) Because I Love You, Stevie B (LMR). (3) From a Distance, Bette Midler (Atlantic). (4) High Enough, Damn Yankees (Warner Bros.). (5) Tom's Diner, DNA featuring Suzanne Vega (A&M). (6) Impulsive, Wilson Phillips (SBK). (7) Love Will Never Do Without You, Janet Jackson (A&M). (8) Sensitivity, Ralph Tresvant (MCA). (9) The First Time, Surface (Columbia). (10) I'm Your Baby Tonight, Whitney Houston (Arista).
(1) To the Extreme, Vanilla Ice (SBK). (2) Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em, M.C. Hammer (Capitol). (3) The Immaculate Collection, Madonna (Sire). (4) I'm Your Baby Tonight, Whitney Houston (Arista). (5) Mariah Carey, Mariah Carey (Columbia). (6) Some People's Lives, Bette Midler (Atlantic). (7) Rhythm of the Saints, Paul Simon (Warner Bros.). (8) Wilson Philips, Wilson Philips (SBK). (9) The Razor's Edge, AC-DC (Atco). (10) Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, George Michael (Columbia).