03/09/1992 at 01:00 AM EST
IT WAS A NIGHT STEEPED IN MEMORIES. Buried in them, even. Certainly last week's Grammy Awards seemed locked in a time warp as big winner Natalie Cole and her Unforgettable album of dad Nat's sweet '50s classics copped seven awards and crooner Michael Bolton won Best Male Pop Star honors with his remake of Percy Sledge's 1966 "When a Man Loves a Woman." Seventy-seven-year-old composer Irving Gordon, who earned Song of the Year honors for penning "Unforgettable" 40 years ago, best summed up the evening's retro theme: "It's nice to have a song accepted that you don't get a hernia when you sing it."
The show, held at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, did feature an unusual amount of muscle music, notably via sweaty performances by Grammy-winning metalheads Metallica and rapper LL Cool J, who included his grandma in a live rendition of "Mama Said Knock You Out." But for many, the action really got rolling later at the post-telecast parties, where even the losers looked satisfied. Said Aaron Neville, who lost Best Pop Vocalist to Bolton: "I was there, I was nominated, I had a great time. Besides, I've got three at home in my china closet."