June 07, 1999 12:00 PM

Ricky Martin (C2/Columbia)

Album of the week

And they said it would be all downhill after Menudo. A boy warbler with the pop-lite Latin group from 12 to 17, Puerto Rican-born Enrique Martin Morales became a matinee hunk on General Hospital during the mid-’90s and, more recently, a Latin music heartthrob. Now 27, big Ricky is enjoying the kind of crossover success many performers only dream about. Thanks go, of course, to “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” the ubiquitous radio and MTV single from this, his first English-language album. Martin is so smitten with the tune he performs it twice here, once in English and again in Spanish. While the bulk of the album’s 14 tracks, including “Be Careful (Cuidado Con Mi Corazon)” a duet with Madonna, tends toward balladry, the uptempo tunes are best. Typical is “Shake Your Bon-Bon,” in which Ricky’s randy come-ons get candy-coated for the sake of younger fans.

Bottom Line: Big boost for Martin mania

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