Sound Loaded
by Ricky Martin, pop/latin (2000)
Sony/Columbia, ASIN B000051VX0

Err, he's back. The pelvis-shaking dude called Ricky Martin is back with his English sophomore effort Sound Loaded. Now, I've been a fan since his Spanish salsa days, but I have a feeling that Sound Loaded will be the one album that distinguishes the true fans or those who just love one song, that Livin' Da Vida Loca song.

This is because if anything, SL is heavier on the typical Ricky Martin (or rather, the Child/Rosa production team) sound and less accessible to those looking for, say, Vida Loca 2. She Bangs makes a worthy follow-up, but it is nonetheless not the best track here.

The whole atmosphere of this album is one of hedonistic carnivela in sweltering hot South American tropics. It's jolly good fun as Martin pays tribute to haughty, hard-to-get, love 'em leave 'em Mata Haris in songs like Loaded (great one) and Jezabel (it's spelled that way). He turns the tables in the cheeky One Night Man, but even then he is still the playful Romeo.

The obligatory ballads don't reek, thankfully, of sugar. Nobody Wants To Be Lovely is a listenable, if average, ballad.

But the glorious stand-out tune has to be the no-nonsense rock stonker tune If You Ever Saw Her, where Martin does his best Madonna impersonation (Express Yourself era). It's campy, hysterical, and probably the closest Martin would come to acknowledging rumors of his homosexuality while camping it up as a Romeo to the ladies.

Really, no matter how bland he is in interviews, when Martin sings, he really comes to life. Fiery, sassy, and altogether red-hot, Sound Loaded is a firecracker of a record. If there is a born entertainer, well, Ricky Martin may be it.

Rating: 89

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