Picks and Pans Review: Big & Beautiful

updated 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Fat Boys

The difference between these New York rap troupes is exemplified by the cover versions of other performers' songs contained on their albums. The Fat Boys remodel the James Brown classic Sex Machine. It's fun and funky but hardly a revelation. The one surprise (a pleasant one) on Big & Beautiful (Sutra) is that these enemies of everything Jane Fonda holds dear have dropped the apologetic obesity jokes and junk-food arias. Instead there are such fat-is-fabulous lyrics as; "Who wants a little/ When you can have a lot/ Big is beautiful/ Extra large is hot." The entire album is similarly playful, energetic and enjoyable, if predictable. Run-D.M.C. on the other hand is out for bigger game, trying to expand the boundaries of rap music. In picking a cover, they gamble and succeed with a bold remake of Aerosmith's Walk This Way. By using rough rock-guitar textures, the trio from Queens continues to transform their style into a hybrid that might be called metal-plated rap. Another strategy at work on Raising Hell (Profile) bears the imprint of innovative producer Rick Rubin. With such devices as a lilting bongo sound on Is It Live or the cowbell tintinnabulation of Peter Piper, he decorates the purely percussive structure of much of Run-D.M.C.'s music in an inventive way. That provides just the right touch of relief for songs as hot as these.

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