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Bela Fleck -- Tales From The Acoustic Planet (Warner Bros.): Bela Fleck's songwriting and banjo technique are showcased on this album of previously unrecorded instrumentals. Crossing the boundaries of jazz, funk, bluegrass, folk, and classical, he is joined by some of his favorite musicians: Chick Corea, Bruce Hornsby, Branford Marsalis, Sam Bush, Tony Rice, the Flecktones, among others. The 14-song CD offers an invigorating and varied pace, from the upbeat ''Up and Running'' to the haunting ''Circus of Regrets;'' He even closes with a lullaby -- there's something for everyone.

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* Deborah Purington


Trisha Yearwood -- Thinkin' About You (MCA): Since her 1991 debut, Trisha Yearwood has turned out successful albums, and ''Thinkin' About You'' is no exception. A singer, not a songwriter, Yearwood has a flair for choosing songs that are musically and lyrically suited to her. Here, her voice flows smoothly from sweet ballads, including the title track and Melissa Etheridge's ''You Can Sleep While I Drive'' to more up-tempo tunes (''XXX's and OOO's''). While producers have done a good job in showcasing Yearwood's voice, the instrumental interludes seem overdone at times on this otherwise impressive album.

* Ken Drelich


Boys on the Side Soundtrack (Arista): This collection of new and previously released recordings features some of the best women performers in rock. If there's any justice, Bonnie Raitt will have chart success with the classic pop tune ''You Got It,'' which Roy Orbison should have had when he recorded it years ago. The album features new cuts by such artists as Sheryl Crow, the Pretenders, Stevie Nicks, Sarah McLachlan, and Melissa Etheridge, as well as previously released songs by the likes of Annie Lennox, the Cranberries, and the Indigo Girls.

* Frank Scheck

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