TALKINGHEADS Remain in Light (Sire) Because they approach them so pretentiously, the African rhythms and funk rudiments that Talking Heads approriate here should disintegrate. That they don't is a tribute to the band's wonderful rhythm section -- Tina Weymouth, bass, and Chris Frantz, drums -- as well as to the various supplementary musicians added here. David Byrne's lyrics remain primarily opaque and more pompous than his approach to rhythm, but the way he chants them, letting fragments pop above the surface of the music, is also intriguing. I don't trust this music, at least partly because it really believes that its sources are being "modernized," or maybe civilized is a better word. But it's compulsively listenable, and if you don't want to dance to it, you're missing the point. ARETHA FRANKLIN Aretha (Arista) No one could have supposed that when Aretha left Atlantic, which was the site of her greatest glories as Queen of Soul, she'd immediately rebound artistically. But that's what happened, although there's a catch: This album's most successful music was produced by Arif Mardin, co-producer of many of her greatest early-'70s hits. What Aretha does to "What a Fool Believes" is spectacular, as fine an example of remodeling a pop song as any contemporary vocalist is capable of. And when the songs here stick to the urbane pop groove that song defines, she's nothing less than great. Unfortunately, she has lost her touch for grittier truths ("Can't Turn You Loose" is a disaster), but this is her most hopeful record in ages. PETER GREEN Little Dreamer (Sail) With his second album since his comeback from illness last year, the former Fleetwood Mac guitarist delves with quiet assurance deeply into the blues. Green's voice can grow a bit wearing over an entire side, but you can say that about many blues singers, and about almost all of the white ones. The songs aren't especially strong, although it's hard to go wrong with Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign," which is by now a necessary adjunct of every British blues career. Charming, engrossing, but not exciting. JO-EL SONNIER Cajun Life (Rounder) Raucous, driving Cajun music, lead by Sonnier's ecstatic voice and French accordian playing. By all rights, Cajun music ought be a dying breed, but between Clifton Chenier's zydeco and records like this one, it apparently has enough vitality to survive even the terminal modernity of the '80s. If you like Ron Guidry's pitching, don't miss this -- it's the musical equivalent: fast balls and sliders low and away. RICH DERRINGER Face to Face (Blue Sky) Derringer has never quite been able to overcome a pair of problems much more typical for the mainstream rock'n'roller: A voice that's too slick for R&B and too rough for straight pop, and an inability to connect with the right band for any length of time. The band here seems no better and no worse than any of his other recent crews: uninspired, competent. The material fits Derringer's voice pretty well and his always excellent guitar playing is showcased without becoming overbearing. The only real mistake here is a cover of Neil Young's "My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)," although to be fair, it's also the only chance taken.