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ROBERT CRAY ``Strong Persuader'' (Mercury-Hightone 830 568-1 M-1, also on cassette and CD) - This is blues guitarist-vocalist Cray's fifth album, but his first to garner any widespread attention. Like the old blues masters, Cray sings of the timeless human struggles of life and love. But with his warm, rich voice, soulful style, and occasional contemporary jazz chords, he's no carbon copy of Howlin' Wolf or Muddy Waters - he's a blues man for the '80s. -AmyDuncan ROBBIE NEVIL ``Robbie Nevil'' (Manhattan Records ST 53006, also on CD) - Guitarist-vocalist Nevil is the fair-haired, slightly sleepy-looking kid whose classy video ``C'est La Vie'' is dominating MTV and VH-1 these days. His trio sounds like a full band, with tight arrangements, catchy backgrounds, and Nevil's engaging Michael Jackson/Stevie Wonder-inflected vocals. -A.D. IGGY POP ``Blah Blah Blah'' (A&M SP 5145, also on cassette and CD) - The former wild man of punk rock has cleaned up his act and has a brand new image. Too bad ``Blah Blah Blah,'' his first album since the changeover, is so blah. Although Pop's deep, cavernous voice has its own unique charm, much of the material here is monotonous and dreary. The shadow of David Bowie, who co-produced the album and co-wrote some of the songs, hangs heavily over all. -A.D. GRACE JONES ``Inside Story'' (Manhattan Records ST-53038) - Grace Jones deserves more praise than she's been getting for this album. Not only is this the first time she's co-written all the songs, but this is one of her most danceable recordings to date. Too bad her cult movie-queen image has tended to overshadow her talent as a musician/songwriter. The poignant and sophisticated ``Victor Should Have Been a Jazz Musician'' prove she's not only gifted but versatile. -A.D. CHICK COREA, MIROSLAV VITOUS, ROY HAYNES ``Trio Music Live in Europe'' (ECM 1310) - The eclectic Corea dons his acoustic jazz piano hat for this trio concert with bassist Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes. Like the various sidemen in the great Bill Evans trios, Vitous and Haynes carry equal weight with the pianist. The set includes originals by the trio members, standards like ``I Hear a Rhapsody'' and ``Night and Day,'' and even Scriabin's ``Prelude No. 2'' as an introduction to Corea's Latinish solo piece, ``Mock Up.'' -A.D. VARIOUS ARTISTS ``Nothing in Common'' (Arista AC9-8438) - Safe, mainstream pop for a safe, mainstream movie. Although this sound-track album features such venerable stars as Aretha Franklin, the Kinks, and Carly Simon, there's little to choose between their undistinguished efforts and those of Christopher Cross, the Thompson Twins, Pat Leonard, Nick Heyward, Richard Marx, Cruzados, and Real to Reel, all of whom fit effortlessly into the listenable but unexciting flow. The result is common indeed, despite the title.

-David Sterritt

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