SWING OUT SISTER ``It's Better to Travel'' (Mercury 832213-1 Q-1) - This melodious and sophisticated British pop trio - singer Corinne Drewery, keyboardist Andy Connell, and drummer Martin Jackson - are a bright new spot on the pop scene. This, their debut album, entered the British pop charts at No. 1. The music, all original, is smooth, jazz-inflected, funky pop, and Drewery's voice is as mellow as a trombone. A winner. NATALIE COLE ``Everlasting'' (Manhattan Records ST 53051) - A strong comeback for Cole with her latest in a contemporary dance/funk mode. Tight, well-produced backgrounds enhance a fine group of songs, including two by Burt Bacharach, Bruce Springsteen's jumping boogie ``Pink Cadillac,'' the lovely Victor Young standard ``When I Fall in Love'' (which works nicely within a pop framework), and her own airy bossa nova, ``More Than the Stars.''
THE CHILDREN ``The Children'' (PO Box 51, West Islip, NY 11795) - The Children just might be the Mamas and the Papas of the '80s. So far they're a self-produced pop group who deserve wider recognition. Their tunes and voices are disarmingly childlike, but their lyrics are full of humorous irony, especially feminist-flavored ditties like ``Fake It for the Boys.''
THE CALL ``Into the Woods'' (Elektra 9 60739-1) - An uneven and derivative second album from this Oklahoma-based band. Lead singer Michael Been's strong voice is the focus, but so many of the instrumental backgrounds are patterned after U2 (the clanging guitars, the insistent drum beat) that they detract from what could be a more original statement.
PERRY COMO ``Today'' (RCA 6368-1-R) - Here Como uses his trademark warm and cozy style for contemporary songs like ``That's What Friends Are For'' and ``Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You.'' Some of the backup vocals are a little too bouncy and cute, but the arrangements are good, and Como pulls it off with his relaxed musicianship and straightforward delivery.
MICHAEL STEARNS ``Chronos'' (Sonic Atmospheres CD 312) - Stearns has written a synthesized tone poem to the IMAX time-lapse movie ``Chronos,'' a journey through nature and civilization. The music is tailor-made for the film and most effective when heard in that context, but it also stands on its own as a texturally and sonorously rich work, in seven movements.
VARIOUS JAZZ ARTISTS ``Bluebird - The Sampler'' (RCA 6389-2-RB) - RCA has released a mixed bag of jazz artists from the old Bluebird label on CD. This sampler is an overview of those included in the series: Shorty Rogers; Bud Powell; Art Blakey; Charles Mingus; Paul Desmond; Sonny Rollins; Lambert Hendricks & Bavan; J.J. Johnson's Orchestra; Sextet of Orchestra U.S.A. with Eric Dolphy; Stan Getz with the Boston Pops; Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges, and others.