Jeff Buckley - GraceIn the mood for a good joke?

Rhino Records has just released Hey That's Funny! Comedy's Greatest Hits, a two-CD collection of classic comedy skits and standup routines from Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Ray Romano, Albert Brooks, Ellen Degeneres, "Saturday Night Live," National Lampoon and many more...

If you want something a bit more serious, Columbia just issued an expanded reissue of Jeff Buckley's acclaimed 1994 debut album Grace. The reissue features a CD of the original album, a second disc of bonus tracks and a "making of" DVD.

 

Richard Marx - My Own Best EnemyRichard Marx
My Own Best Enemy
(EMI)
    


It's been a decade since Chicagoan Richard Marx released an album and cracked the pop charts with his own performances. In the interim, he's been producing and writing for other artists, including Josh Groban, Barbra Streisand, Vince Gill and Shedaisy, and in February scored a Grammy for "Song of the Year" for his work on "Song for My Father" with Luther Vandross.

Marx has certainly matured as a songwriter in the years since his '80s hits "Don't Mean Nothing," "Should've Known Better" and "Right Here Waiting." His fifth album has a darker edge to it than those early pop smashes, yet his knack with a catchy pop hook is still overpowering.

My Own Best Enemy sounds like the perfect breakup album. "Nothing Left to Say" opens it, hinged on a shuffling guitar chord riff, and complains of a stalled relationship: "When something's come and gone, what good is holding on/Why waste tomorrow chasing yesterday?" he sings, as well as, "Who is the fool that would choose to keep pretending that this ain't ending?"

The next track, "When You're Gone," considers the more practical implications of breaking up: "Who's gonna dry my tears when I'm crying who's gonna love me when you're gone?"

Much of the album has a polished but crunchy rock guitar vibe to it. "Colder" is a perfect straight-ahead guitar rocker, while "Someone Special" begs the listener to perform a self-affirming singalong.

But there are also some trademark Marx love songs to sift from Enemy. For the most part, they're not happy love songs. In the quietly moving "Again," he sings, "I've never been quite so hopeless" before adding, "You are the only one who can put me back together again."

Then there's "One Thing Left," a softly strummed gem about picking up the pieces and moving on.

And "Ready to Fly" finds Marx working in the big-ballad spirit of Disney soundtrack hits. A building mix of reverberating drums, guitars and quiet keyboards support his discovery that "Now it's time for me to discover all that I am/Now I'm ready to fly/over the sun..." It all ends with a beautiful string orchestration for the silky "Falling."

Marx has created one of the strongest collections of his career in My Own Best Enemy. This is one of the strongest, most tightly written pop albums of the year.