July 22, 1996 12:00 PM

Maxi Priest

British singer Maxi Priest—best known for his 1990 No. 1 hit, “Close to You”—has become reggae’s premier loverboy, caressing its lazy lilting rhythms with enough romantic savoir faire to drive fans wild. But on Man with the Fun, the smooth operator has a rough time getting his love machine up and running. As the soulful “Golden Teardrops” and “Ain’t It Enough” and his clumsily upbeat cover of the Police’s “Message in a Bottle” make all too clear, Priest is basically a polished pop singer flirting with a Jamaican accent. His suave delivery, which owes more to Johnny Mathis than Bob Marley, sounds at odds with the sweaty rumble of “That Girl” and “Heartbreak Lover.” On the former, guest vocalist Shaggy nearly steals the show with his own boisterous moves. He sounds like he’s having a bigger blast than the man with the fun. (Virgin)

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