PAT METHENY GROUP ``Still Life (Talking)'' (Geffen GHS 24145) - There are strong Brazilian overtones in jazz guitarist Metheny's latest album, a venture with lots of pretty, hummable melodies by him and keyboardist Lyle Mays. Nevertheless, it is replete with muscular jazz solos, intriguing polyrhythms, and tight, effective writing for brass-section synthesizer. The wordless vocals add much to the Brazilian mood. DAVID MURRAY OCTET ``New Life'' (Black Saint BSR 0100) - The ``new'' avant-garde in jazz isn't structureless chaos; it's loose, freewheeling, blues-based, often humorous music. Saxophonist Murray is one of its prime exponents, and his larger ensembles keep getting better. This album is the best yet, with compositions by Murray that run the gamut from a West Coast-style tune, a Monkish blues, and a waltz.Skip to next paragraph
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ELTON JOHN ``Live in Australia'' (MCA 2-8022) - This double album was recorded on John's world tour last year. He's joined here by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and the arrangements are grand, dramatic, and quite moving, especially on ``Your Song'' and ``Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me.'' Unfortunately, John was experiencing vocal problems, and it's almost painful to listen to him at times.
K.T. OSLIN ``'80s Ladies'' (RCA 5924-1-R, CD 5924-2-R) - This is the first album for country singer Oslin, but she's been around a long time doing musicals and jingles. She's a real charmer and will no doubt be a favorite among women, with lightly feminist songs like ``'80s Ladies'' and ``Younger Men.'' This is a strong debut for Oslin, both as singer and songwriter, and could easily cross over onto the pop charts.
FAT BOYS ``Cruisin''' (Polydor/Tin Pan Apple 831948)1) - The Fat Boys are hip hoppers (rappers), but here they broaden the definition of the genre with added background vocals and some guitar licks straight out of heavy metal. There's the usual ego-stroking (``I'm the biggest, baddest, etc.''), lots of silliness and tongue-in-cheek vulgarity, but not enough to rate a PMRC sticker. The Boys are joined by the other Boys - the Beach Boys - on ``Wipeout.''
LIVING IN A BOX ``Living in a Box'' (Chrysalis BFV41547) - Yet another example of the new British soul music, along the lines of Level 42 and Simply Red. Living in a Box sounds like both of those groups at times, but it also projects its own style, thanks mostly to the oh-so-danceable arrangements and the deep, dark voice of lead singer/guitarist Richard Darbyshire.
DARYL HALL ``The Classic Ballads'' (RCA 6243-1-RDA1) - Daryl Hall sings six ballads that he wrote himself or with John Oates, including ``Someone Like You,'' the haunting ``Do What You Want, Be What You Are,'' his lovely and poignant ``Sara Smile,'' and a soulful ``Every Time You Go Away,'' performed live at the Apollo.