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Top Albums

Notable CDs | The Top 5 CDs for the week ending Nov. 2, according to Billboard magazine

1. CRY

1 week on chart

STYLE Not country-not by a long shot (hippodrome pop, maybe).

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL A CD-booklet photo or two, although she's wearing more clothing than she did last time.

WORLDVIEW "I'm just like everybody else / I try to love Jesus and myself" ("This Is Me").

OVERALL QUALITY Not country-not by a long shot (and the point is to love Jesus and one's neighbor).

2. 10

1 week on chart

STYLE Rap.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL "Paradise" (casual swearing, sex talk), "Lollipop" (sex talk, casual swearing), "Amazin'," "Throw Ya L's Up," "U Should" (sex talk), "Glockin' G's" (casual swearing), "Niggy Nuts" (fightin' words)

WORLDVIEW To err is human, to brag divine.

OVERALL QUALITY A notch above most rap; LL Cool J forgoes enough profanity and obscenity to avoid the "explicit lyrics" warning label, and in "Big Mama" he sincerely honors his grandmother.

3. ELV1S: 30 #1 HITS

4 weeks on chart

STYLE The most influential, enduringly popular, and quintessentially American rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, pop, schmaltz, gospel, and Southern blue-eyed soul of the last 50 years.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW When given voice by a uniquely gifted and broadly sympathetic singer, even the most common and hackneyed sentiments can speak volumes.

OVERALL QUALITY Unassailable (except for "Wooden Heart," a soundtrack trifle that was a U.K. hit only).

4. FORTY LICKS

3 weeks on chart

STYLE The most influential, enduringly popular, and quintessentially blues-based rock 'n' roll of the last 40 years.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL "Let's Spend the Night Together" (lasciviousness unbound), "Sympathy for the Devil" (Miltonic irony?)

WORLDVIEW "You can't always get what you want, but, if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need."

OVERALL QUALITY The 33 tracks from '64 to '89 are relentlessly catchy and (unintentionally?) revealing; the seven from '93 to '02, ho-hum.

5. LET GO

20 weeks on chart

STYLE Hormonal teenage pop-punk.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL "Things I'll Never Say" (double-entendres), "I'm with You" (casual swearing), "Mobile" (casual crudity)

WORLDVIEW "To walk within the lines would make my life so / boring! I want to know that I have been to the extreme so knock me off my feet come on / ... anything to make me feel alive ... / I'd rather be anything but ordinary."

OVERALL QUALITY Juvenile.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

With the publication last year of William F. Buckley Jr.'s novel Elvis in the Morning, Elvis Presley-once the poster boy for all things rebellious-officially entered the conservative consciousness as a subject worthy of serious consideration, appreciation, and sympathy. Indeed, listening to the 31 songs compiled on Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits (RCA) (a "bonus" remix of "A Little Less Conversation" is No. 31), it's hard to imagine that Elvis was ever perceived as anything other than a uniquely talented and versatile singer.

His status as the definitive rock 'n' roll singer has never been in question; what makes 30 #1 Hits valuable is its reminder to those who would dismiss Elvis as the Clown Prince of Kitsch that he sang almost every other style of popular American music too, and that he often did so better than anyone else. For conservatives, only one stumbling block remains: the inability to hear "In the Ghetto" without thinking of Rush Limbaugh's anti-environmentalist theme song, the Paul Shanklin parody "In a Yugo."

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