Lovett's latest definitely lovable

Lyle Lovett

"I Love Everybody"

Curb/MCA Records

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who think Julia Roberts is crazy for marrying the big-haired one and people who think Lyle Lovett sold out by marrying Julia Roberts.

In defense of the latter comes Lyle Lovett's newest offering, and one of the year's strongest candidates for album of the year, "I Love Everybody." Lovett has long lost the country twang that marked his earlier work, and on his newest album finds him working without the "big band" that accompanied his last two albums. Working largely with a stripped-down guitar, bass and drum combo (with occasional strings), Lovett serves up another tasty dish of his bent humor, eccentric lyricism and heartfelt emotion.

The songs on "I Love Everybody" have been culled from unreleased material that Lovett has accumulated over the past 20 years. While this may sound like the makings of a second rate outtake album, the result actually provides interesting glimpses into a younger, less cynical Lovett. Replacing the broken love songs that Lovett has made his trademark are songs of young love his crush on a record store clerk in "Record Lady" and the silliness of a girlfriend's roommate in "Penguins."

Lovett's completely offbeat sense of humor is present through the album as well, from his diatribe against the smell of babies in "Fat Babies" to "Creeps Like Me" which tells of making a ring from his dead grandmother's gold tooth.

The songs also offer ample demonstration that while Lovett has refined his sound over the years into that of a Randy Newman/Jim Croce-esque singer-songwriter, his lyric writing has remained the constant key to his success. "I Love Everybody" is an outstanding album by one of America's most original artists. Noah Lopez

Various Artists

"Pulp Fiction Soundtrack"

MCA

Quentin Tarantino writes his films with the soundtrack in mind, centering entire scenes around the feel a listener will get from hearing the song at the same time.

It's amazing how well this works. While listening to the soundtrack of "Reservoir Dogs" or "Pulp Fiction," it's impossible to listen to the songs independently of their film counterparts. This can be good or bad for a purveyor of the soundtrack.

For one who hasn't seen the movie, the soundtracks are little more than hip selections from someone's record collection. There's no real thread connecting the songs into a cohesive album. Instead the soundtrack seems more like a badly constructed mix tape by a well-listened 15-year-old.

The soundtrack alternates slow songs by Al Green, Dusty Springfield or Ricky Nelson; surf guitar work by Dick Dale, the Lively Ones or the Centurians; or the funkier twists of Kool & the Gang or Chuck Berry. Without the film's images to counterbalance the work, the soundtrack is an exercise in hipster predictability.

With the film in mind, however, the soundtrack takes on more of an MTV feel, with the songs strongly reminding the listener of the accompanying images. It's as hard to imagine listening to Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" without picturing Vince (John Travolta) and Mia (Uma Thurman) twisting, swimming and batdancing on the dance floor as it is to imagine hearing Stealer's Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle" without visualizing the cop torture scene of "Reservoir Dogs." In this respect, these soundtracks seem to work, especially when bolstered by the snippets of dialogue that intercut the tracks.

"Pulp Fiction," much like Tarantino's films are visually, is candy for the ears . the perfect film accessory for the MTV generation. Noah Lopez

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