John Travolta

David Soul

To be a pop star these days, all you need is your own hit TV series and a voice, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. John Travolta (Welcome Back, Kotter's Barbarino) has aspirations to become a one man Blood, Sweathog & Tears but a fondness for soporific disco and gratingly overproduced ballads can't disguise a shallow talent. Soul, TV's Hutch, sounds much stronger. When he belts out his hit single Don't Give Up on Us, you wonder if he didn't choose the wrong showbiz scam. What must Farrah's voice be like if she hasn't made a record yet?

Natalie Cole

The title applies more to the commercial explosion of the LP—a half-million sold in its first month—than to the music itself, a sassy blend of disco numbers and soul ballads. But Cole's expressive, elastic voice invites comparisons to Aretha Franklin at the peak of her Lady Soul days. With this album and its hit single I've Got Love on My Mind. Cole has all but buried any notion that she is just Nat King Cole's daughter.


This six-man Anglo-American band could be the Boston of 1977, thanks to smart, aggressive musicianship and elaborately catchy vocals. Their joyously rocking single Feels Like the First Time is perfect freeway rock: music to roll up the windows and floor it by.

Glen Campbell

Some folks like their Campbell soupy and accompanied by gushing strings; others prefer his cowboy voice without rhinestone arrangements. Unless you like it both ways, the grooves here are either half-empty or half-full.

John McLaughlin with Shakti

The jazz-raga guitarist's second acoustic LP with three Indian musicians (on violin, a small drum called the tabla, and claypot). The spiritualized McLaughlin, typically unconcerned that his first album with Shakti created only a small cult following, uses his customized sitarlike guitar with astonishing speed and elegance.

Bad Company

Few surprises—rather, Bad Company policy: uncomplicated, stalking rhythms and lean guitar playing by Mick Ralphs. What saves Burnin' Sky from being just another supergroup false alarm is the urgency in Paul Rodgers' lead vocals.

Emmylou Harris

Worth the trip. Superbly supported by studio pros, Harris' sweet sapling voice draws its strength from an affecting quaver both in ballads and rockabilly. Her sound, as Woody Allen once described himself, is "thin but fun."

Fleetwood Mac

Glowing with invention through rock, pop and folk forms, the 11 tunes reflect the members' delicate romantic tribulations of last year, but do so tastefully. Even more difficult, they've come back with a satisfying follow-up to their four-million selling gem Fleetwood Mac.