Donny Osmond, Rick Springfield

This Is the Moment (Decca), The Greatest Hits...Alive (Hip-O)

What becomes an aging pretty boy most? Judging from these releases, a dogged determination to live in the past trumps aging gracefully any day. First, the bad news: Though Osmond may have found new life as a Broadway balladeer, whoever thought this baker's mostly down-tempo dozen was a good idea deserves a brass-knuckle visit from that other '70s icon-on-the-rebound, Mr. T. How badly does Moment bite? Let me count the ways: From the mind-numbing monotony of "No Matter What" to the whisper-sweet pablum Osmond makes of "Give My Regards to Broadway," this disc is a difficult listen. It's not that the singer lacks technical proficiency -- in small doses, this stuff is fairly harmless. But after hearing Osmond take more than half a dozen cracks at essentially the same tune, it's painfully apparent that he lacks the level of bombast needed to put these compositions over the top. On a slightly more positive note, the up-tempo Rent show-stopper "Seasons of Love" occasionally threatens to work, if one can overlook the fact that Osmond obviously intends it to be a too-late audition for the Backstreet Boys. Likewise, Rosie O'Donnell's cameo on "You've Got a Friend in Me" isn't as annoying as you'd expect. Still, Osmond's attempts to establish vocal chemistry with her are as strained as Beech-Nut bananas.

Far more palatable are Springfield's mostly faithful renditions of early '80s radio fare, including "I've Done Everything for You," "I Get Excited" and the inevitable "Jessie's Girl." Bubblegum pop in the finest sense of the term, the aforementioned compositions benefit from crunchy guitars, spunky tempos and vocal performances that, hard as it is to believe, rock. Gone is the whiny upper register that once passed for emotive intensity; it's been replaced by a sturdier sound that the still-sleek singer wears as well as his tailored leather trousers. From the estrogen-dripping roar that greets the opening power chord of "Affair of the Heart," it's clear that the former Dr. Noah Drake's fans don't get out much. By the song's first chorus, however, it's also clear that a Springfield show might actually be worth leaving the house for. It's all here, gals -- the prefab hooks of "Love Is Alright Tonite," the glassy guitars of "State of the Heart," and even a reggae-tinged rendition of "Rock of Life" that should have Andy Summers phoning either his lawyer or his agent. Aside from nondescript numbers such as "Kristina" and "Living in Oz," the only real downers are the overblown hankie-soaker "April 24th/My Father's Chair" and the futile stab at credibility Springfield makes with "Gloria." Nevertheless, anyone bold enough to walk up to a cash register with this CD in hand could be in for a pleasant surprise.

 
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