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AquaAqua, Aquarius (MCA 2000) - Get ready for perky summertime pop from Danish export Aqua. On the followup to their big-selling debut, Aqua capitalizes on their engaging harmony vocals like another famous Scandinavian export (dare I mention Abba?)

Aquarius opens strongly with such radio-friendly tracks as "Cartoon Heros," "Around the World," and "Freaky Friday." Aimed at a teenage pop market, Aquarius delivers on its slick and polished numbers.

AquaAqua consists of Claus Norreen, Rene Dif, Soren Rasted, and lovely lead singer Lene Nystrom. The quartet sparked the ire of Mattel with their break-through single, "Barbie Girl," a happy-go-lucky pop nugget. Aquarius was recorded throughout 1999 at locations in Sweden and the UK.

LeneListen for the ballad, "We Belong to the Sea," which emphasizes the group's strong vocals. Lead singer Lene Nystrom has a voice that rings like a bell, with occasional hints of Cyndi Lauper quirkiness. And dig the techno vibe on "Halloween."

SorenWhat you'll remember about Aqua is driving beats, slick production, and well-honed vocals. Yet the string section on "Back from Mars" isn't necessary: Aquarius is no concept album like Kilroy Was Here by Styx.

While the album slows during its second half, the opening numbers establish a strong tempo, and should receive radio airplay. Get ready for a good time with Aquarius.

Moody BluesMoody Blues, Millennium Collection (MCA 2000) - Millennium Collection boasts 11 digitally remastered classics from the Moody Blues, nine of them top 40 hits. Millennium Collection includes such great songs as the driving rocker, "Ride my See-Saw," "The Story in Your Eyes," and "I'm Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)," all staples of 70's FM radio.

Moody BluesOriginally formed in Birmingham, England, in 1964, the band rocketed to the top of the charts with the classic psychedelia of the 1967 concept album, Days of Future Past. Merging classical and rock influences, the Moody Blues scored a number 2 single with "Nights in White Satan" (the lead off track on Millennium Collection).

The good old daysFollowing the departure of early members Clint Warwick and Denny Laine, the Moody's lineup solidified with Ray Thomas on flute and vocals, Justin Hayward on guitar and lead vocals, Mike Pinder on keyboards and vocals, John Lodge on bass and vocals, and Graeme Edge on drums. (Pinder was replaced in the 80s by drummer Patrick Moraz).

Moody BluesThe Moody's success continued with the 1968 album, In Search of the Lost Chord, followed by To Our Children's Children's Children (1970) and Every Good Boy Deserves a Favour (1971). The band was revitalized in the 80s with "The Voice" (from 1981's Long Distance Voyager) and the 1986 top ten single, "Your Wildest Dreams."

Eleven tracks from the Moody Blues at a discount price. Not a whit of fluff or extra. Get the Millennium Collection.

Patsy ClinePatsy Cline, True Love: The Standards Collection (MCA Nashville 2000) - Although Patsy Cline has been gone for nearly 40 years, her recording legacy casts a long shadow. True Love: The Standards Collection assembles a series of "crossover" songs recorded by Patsy, with 14 standards made famous by such artists as Al Jolson, Judy Garland, and the Mills Brothers.

Patsy ClineThe songs on True Love: The Standards Collection were recorded from August 1961 (Patsy's first session following her near-fatal automobile accident) through February 1963 (just one month before her death in a plane crash). At the helm was producer Owen Bradley, who would later be praised as the architect of the lush instrumental backing that came to be known as the "Nashville Sound."

Patsy ClineWhile Patsy Cline will be forever associated with country music, she had one of the best voices of any singer in the last half-century. The songs on True Love include a bouncy version of "Heartaches" (a big hit for the Ted Weems band), "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)" (introduced by Al Jolson in 1913), and the chestnut, "Love Letters in the Sand."

Patsy ClineThe package features sharp liner notes by Joseph F. Laredo, which add insight and understanding to the recordings. Also included is "Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever Been Blue?)" and a playful version of "Anytime," a pop song dating back to 1921, but made into a million-selling country single by Eddy Arnold in 1948.

True Love gathers Patsy's renditions of popular standards on one anthology. You can see how Decca was trying to move Patsy away from her cowgirl outfits into a more sophisticated image and sound. Yet Patsy's talent would not be easily confined.

True Love: The Standards Collection doesn't sound anything like current pop. Though the songs may harken from another era, Patsy's voice comes through front and center. Fans of a great voice should look for True Love: The Standards Collection.

- Randy Krbechek © 2000

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