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ROCK/POP Air Supply: ''Now and Forever.'' Arista. AL9587. - Calling Air Supply sentimental is like accusing Kiss of being flamboyant. This Australian group has come up with a set of some of the most confectionery songs since the Carpenters. This isn't to say that Air Supply - or the Carpenters (whose music this writer has always enjoyed) - should be dismissed just for oversweetness. But the problem with Air Supply is that most of its tunes sound so carefully buffed they are stuffy. ''Two Less Lonely People in the World,'' for instance, is as predictable and vapid as it is carefully sculptured for the hit parade. With all Air Supply's blandness, however, the group can charm in its own mild-mannered way. Russell Hitchcock's vocals are, happily, well tailored to his saccharine material. Frank Esler-Smith's keyboards sound clear and reflective. Together with the rest of the Air Supply team, they've produced some monster hits - several, in fact, from this album - and you can't argue with the fact they've captured the imagination of so many mellow-rockers. - David Hugh Smith

Pat Benatar: ''Get Nervous.'' Chrysalis. CHR 1396. - Pat Benatar sounds as if she's got more grit than John Wayne. Her friendships (in her songs) have all the gentleness of a street fight. These qualities have been carefully cultivated to produce a string of powerful hits, the latest being ''Shadows of the Night,'' from ''Get Nervous.'' It's a creditable rocker, like most of the other cuts from the album. I liked ''Fight It out'' better, though, hidden deep in the album. It features Pat singing (not just wailing), and she surprises us with her sensitive , appealing voice. Herein is a hint of what Pat Benatar could be. The songs on this album, taken individually, are for the most part competent, gutsy tunes played well by a capable band. However, there's a certain uncompromising dreariness of unhappy relationships - a sour, disagreeable cynicism - and all belted out with anxiety by Benatar. It's a bittersweet flavor that after a while begins simply to sound bitter. Benatar leaves hints there is more versatility to her voice and her talent but these aren't developed. Benatar fans will not have expected her to do any more than she does on this LP, but that doesn't satisfy the feeling that she could and should have. - David Hugh Smith

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Phil Collins: ''Hello, I Must be Going!'' Atlantic 80035-1. - Phil Collins, drummer and lead singer for the British band Genesis, had a gold record in 1981 with his first solo effort, ''Face Value.'' His new solo album, though lacking the impact of his first, is still a fine effort. Collins again relies on his unique drumming style and a tight, talented horn section on several of the cuts. ''I Don't Care Anymore,'' one of the album's best songs, is exemplary of the bitterness that pervades much of Collins's work. The remake of the Motown classic ''You Can't Hurry Love'' is another fine song - as Collins has both captured the Motown sound and kept his own style visible. -Vincent J. Winkel

Dusty Springfield: ''White Heat.'' Casablanca. NBLP-7271. - If ever there were an album that grows on you, this is it. Dusty Springfield has come a long way since she scored her first international hit some 20 years ago, when her songs had that hamburger-joint, teeny-bopper flavor. Fortunately for the listener, White Heat is much more mature than old Springfield material and has something for everybody. Whether it be a slow, sentimental love song (''Time and Time Again''), a fast-paced, funk-influenced dance song (''I am Curious''), or something in between, it's all here. The album has a uniquely clear, defined sound - no sloppy production work. And Miss Springfield has not lost any of her powerful voice - which can be loud and gutsy as well as soft and sensitive. There is a heavy reliance on synthesizers on this album, but we never really notice, because it is integrated into the music so very well. - Vincent J. Winkel

Survivor: ''Eye of the Tiger.'' Scotti Brothers/CBS Records. FZ 38062. - Survivor songs aren't bad. We just get the ho hum feeling we've heard them all before. In fact, the group sounds like twin brothers of Journey, a name not often associated with innovation. It can be partly forgiven on the strength of the rocker ''Eye of the Tiger.'' It's a rousing tune and the theme song for ''Rocky III,'' and its obvious aspirations for glory somehow do not weaken its compelling delivery. Yet, stuck onto the same album is something like ''The One That Really Matters,'' which sounds sweet as it comes pouring out of your speakers, like soda out of a pop bottle, but after it's over there's the empty feeling that you've heard yet one more aching love song. - David Hugh Smith

The Who: ''It's Hard.'' Warner Bros. WB-23731-1. - The Who needs no introduction. It's one of those rare bands that can produce music as exceptional today as it did some 20 years ago. ''It's Hard'' was released as The Who began its farewell tour. Let's hope it keeps its promise and doesn't say farewell to the recording studio. This is a record alive with fine musicianship and riveting, sometimes cynical lyrics. Lead singer Roger Daltry, who has one of rock's most powerful and gifted voices, holds nothing back on the fine songs written by guitarist Pete Townshend. The album is full of opinion. In ''I've Known No War'' Daltry describes quite forcefully that we shall never again know war, as it will be just a ''fireball in the sky.'' Another fine song finds Townshend and Daltry arguing about the beauty (or lack thereof) of a girl named Athena. Other memorable cuts include ''Eminence Front'' (a social comment on the facades people wear) and the title song, ''It's Hard.'' This album, like so many before, has helped carry The Who legacy just a bit further along. - Vincent J. Winkel

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