ANNIE LENNOX, "Medusa" ( Arista ) ** 1/2
Unlike recent, similar efforts by Gloria Estefan and Luther Vandross, the former Eurythmic's collection of other artists' tunes is a work of art. Lennox has transformed every song she tackles into her own, sometimes rendering them unrecognizable from the originals--most notably on the Temptations' ferocious soul classic "I Can't Get Next to You," done as a doleful plaint.
After listening to Lennox's versions of songs such as Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain" and Al Green's "Take Me to the River," you have an even greater appreciation of the originals--and that might be just what she intended.
Still, the satisfaction you get from listening to "Medusa" is not much greater than that provided by significantly less ambitious albums in the same vein. Lennox's rich, unaffected vocals are glorious, of course, but only the Clash's "Train in Vain"--which she does as a gospel-flecked ballad--truly benefits from being so radically reworked.
New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).