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SUMMER ALBUM ROUNDUP : ANNABELLA LOSES HER BARK

“FEVER.” Annabella. RCA. To hear this album is to understand the genius of Malcolm McLaren.

Annabella was a wee lass of 13 when punk-rock Svengali McLaren discovered her in a Laundromat and transformed her into the cheeky Lolita who fronted the wonderfully anarchistic Bow Wow Wow. This is Annabella’s post-Bow Wow Wow solo debut, Malcolm’s nowhere on the premises and alas, the poor girl has nothing to say.

A few years out of the spotlight apparently put the fear of God in Annabella: There’s not a trace of the snotty spunk that made this former punk prodigy so appealing. Every limp track seems to whimper, “OK, mister record company man, I’ll go along quietly. . . . Sure, I’ll sing like Pat Benatar.”

Annabella shows some taste in her choice of material--an Alice Cooper tune, the Peggy Lee classic “Fever"--but her renditions are unimaginative and wan. The album’s high-tech production suggests she’s after dance-club hits, but there’s not a whisper of a gone groove from start to finish.

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