Babyface: Unplugged (Epic) R&B smoothie Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds is joined by luminaries including Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder for this live album. With a full-on band, but without the polish for which Babyface- produced songs are noted for, this sounds largely like just more AOR wallpaper, but some of the collaborations, such as "Breathe Again" aren't without sparkle. But considering this is Babyface's "Dream Team" of musicians, a lot more was expected. HHH

Various Artists: Tibetan Freedom Concert (Grand Royal/Capitol) The triple album featuring bands at the Tibet human rights concerts in San Francisco and New York in 1996 and 1997 is a mixed affair. Early on, the raggardy spirit of Jon Spencer is up against the oriental warbles of Yungchen Lhamo and the weary emotionalism of Radiohead. Blur, Bjork and Michael Stipe are also highlights. Still, eccentric enough to be one of the strongest compilations of the year. HHHH

Various Artists: The Sweet Hereafter (Virgin)

Although this is a soundtrack to a Canadian film, the musical origins are distinctly Irish. While this would evocatively charge up the atmosphere of a film, the vivid vocals and swirly melodies are just too technically perfect to be a source of intrigue, and annoy after a while. The picture postcard view of Ireland this encourages is the type the likes of Sinead O'Connor and The Pogues fought against. Gorgeous but frighteningly lacking in ideas. HHH

The Carpenters: Love Songs (A&M) "Xmas Cash-In Alert!" There is absolutely no reason for this new outing by Richard and Karen - no exclusive, previously unreleased surprises, no anniversary to commemorate. No more, please. HH