"JUST LIKE THE FIRST TIME." Freddie Jackson. Capitol. Jackson manages to avoid the sophomore jinx in this impressive follow-up to his million-selling 1985 debut. The singer even stretches out a bit: Whereas his first album was dominated by ballads (including the hits "Rock Me Tonight" and "You Are My Lady"), the best cuts here are uptempo, including the exuberant "Jam Tonight."

But while Jackson proves that the success of his first album was no fluke, he has yet to establish a clear identity. "I Can't Let You Go" is reminiscent of Luther Vandross in its mix of soulful vocals and razzle-dazzle theatricality. Other cuts echo other singers. Jackson's current single, "Tasty Love," has the fluid rhythmic sensibility of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing"; "You Are My Love" has the expansive elegance of such Lionel Richie ballads as "Truly." Jackson has the quality and stylistic range to become an important singer in his own right, but he needs to avoid the sound-alike trap.

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