In a welcome return to form, 60s pop-rock poet Paul Simon returned from a decade of irrelevance, stunning critics and delighting fans with the South Africa-influenced Graceland.
The low points were many: 70s leading lights Elton John and George Clinton both put out albums among their worst ever, while 60s stalwarts Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves and Eric Clapton appeared to be completely burned out. Cars frontman Ric Ocasek came out with an amazingly bland, uninteresting effort. Plus, three members of the Jefferson Airplane had an ill-advised reunion, and James Brown's commercial comeback was a shadow of his earlier glories.
The jazz album of the year was Stanley Jordan's Standards; the year's best Latin music album was Causas Y Azares by Silvio Rodríguez. (DBW)