JOE JACKSON ``Will Power'' (A&M SP-3908) - British singer-pianist Joe Jackson may be steeped in blues and American pop music, but he's used to taking musical risks. Now he's surprised everyone with an album of original instrumental music in a neo-romantic vein, using a combination of orchestral and electronic instruments. The pieces are full of lush orchestrations and lyrical themes. THE SMITHS ``Louder Than Bombs'' (Sire 25568-1) - This British pop band's two-record set includes material spanning their five-year recording career. With smooth, introspective lyrics and the honeyed voice of lead singer Morrissey, the group has a low-key appeal.
FLEETWOOD MAC ``Tango in the Night'' (Warner Bros. 25471-1) - For the past five or six years, the members of Fleetwood Mac have been working on individual projects. This reunion album features some pretty melodies and multilayered vocals, but overall it's a lackluster offering from the 20-year-old pop group. The pace picks up a little on ``Family Man,'' with its Spanish guitar solo and imaginative vocals, but most of the songs are sung with little spirit.
GRANDMASTER FLASH ``Ba-Dop-Boom-Bang'' (Elektra 60723-1) - Nicknamed the ``Father of Rap Music,'' Joseph Saddler (Grandmaster Flash) comes back rapping and scratching after a brief foray into singing. This album is the best rap offering since Run-D.M.C.'s ``Raisin' Hell.'' Flash's rap uses more backup than Run-D.M.C. and includes a female chorus. The lyrics are suggestive on one song, while downright vulgar on another, but the rest are tame and sometimes funny.
EDDIE DANIELS ``For Bird with Love'' (GRP GR-1034) - How refreshing to hear a jazz clarinetist again (they're scarce these days) - especially one like Daniels, who has an original style. He stretches the boundaries of bebop on this digitally recorded tribute to Charlie Parker, bringing the clarinet back into modern jazz. The group, too, is outstanding - especially pianist Fred Hersch.
LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO ``Shaka Zulu'' (Warner Bros. 25582-1) - The South African 10-man a cappella group that recorded ``Graceland'' with Paul Simon now has an album of its own, produced by Simon. These are gentle, yearning songs by people who had to leave their homes to go work in the city. Led by the group's founder, Joseph Shabalala, Ladysmith Black Mambazo provides some truly moving listening.
RATTLESNAKE ANNIE ``Rattlesnake Annie'' (Columbia B6C 40678) - Here's a country singer who doesn't wear a rhinestone-studded, fringed leather jacket and a head of shoulder-length curls. Nope, Rattlesnake Annie - of Scotch-Irish-Cherokee descent - wears pigtails and sings in a low, drawling voice about pickin' worms off the grapevine and buyin' a bus ticket for a one-way destination. She's tough, but sweet.