Sandra Bernhard isn't that funny anymore. Though she started off as a classic cutup in films like 1983's The King of Comedy, her 1993 collection of quasi-memoirs, Love, Love and Love, was barely a laughing matter. Ditto her third album, Excuses for Bad Behavior, Part One. Both prove that Bernhard is more a shrewd social commentator than a comic, actress or celebrity pal. On Excuses she throws some bold punches—spoken, rapped and sung, with and without musical accompaniment—at phone sex and psychic hotlines, the New York Post and anyone who dares criticize her for reaching outside of her gay following.
Unfortunately, on the cuts where Bernhard turns crooner she loses the I-couldn't-care-less-what-you-think attitude that's a large part of her appeal. She sounds surprisingly self-conscious revising the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" and Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover." It's like she's watching her mouth in the mirror, too concerned with singing on-key to worry about vocal character. Perhaps Bernhard should give her soprano a rest and just keep talking. (Sony/550)