March 25, 1985 12:00 PM

Grandmaster Flash

Flash can probably be forgiven for recording an off-key, dull version of the Fats Waller party classic The Joint Is Jumpin’. He can probably be forgiven for including a song here about statutory rape, Jailbait. He might even be forgiven for getting Eddie Murphy to make an appearance and then not using him in any noticeable way. (He might have done the shrink wrapping for all anyone can tell.) He can’t, however, be forgiven for forsaking the rhythmic rapping that made him one of the founding fathers of the hip-hop movement. Flash (born Joseph Saddler in the South Bronx) includes far too much run-of-the-mill funk pop, such as the flowery Paradise, on this LP. Flash has also reformed his group, which now includes a rapper named Mr. Broadway and bass player Lavón. When they all get together, as they do in taking phrase-by-phrase turns on Alternate Groove (it sounds like a rap jam session), they embody the most mesmerizingly kinetic qualities of rap. It may not exactly be music, but it sure is fun. Who can resist such a line as, “Don’t stand still/ just shake your pants/ This high velocity beat/ is sure to make you dance”? Larry’s Dance Theme is enjoyable too, incorporating a lot of the turntable manipulations and synthesizer tricks that are unique to rap. A lot more that kind of thing and a lot less homogenized pop would have made this a much better record. (Elektra/Asylum)

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