LITTLE FEAT created a legend 16 years ago when they combined the funky second-lined rhythms of New Orleans with the folk-rock songwriting of hippie California.

The Radiators certainly have the proper credentials to recreate that chemistry: They lived in a California commune for a while before returning to hometown New Orleans. Unfortunately, the Radiators are too loose with their native rhythms to be a compelling dance band and are too fond of a barroom joke to be a convincing songwriting band.

After 10 years as an underground sensation and after two self-released albums, the Radiators have finally released their major- label debut, "Law of the Fish." Produced by .38 Special-ist Rodney Mills, the record is aimed at AOR radio with its pointless guitar solos, juvenile jokes and sloppy rhythms. It may very well be a hit, but no one should mistake this amorphous music for New Orleans rhythm & blues, and no one should mistake Ed Volker's hippie doggerel for literature. The Radiators sure aren't Little Feat; hell, they aren't even the Bluesbusters.

Pittsburgh's Norman Nardini has been a fixture on the Northeast bar circuit for nine years now, and his second major-label album, "Love Dog," marks a welcome return to the roots-rock sound of his memorable 1981 indie gem, "Eat'n Alive." Nardini takes the R&B groove of the recent Fabulous Thunderbird albums and toughens it up with some hard rock. Nardini's 10 originals are simple songs about girls and bars, but they bundle steady groove and catchy guitar melodies into compact bursts of excitement. Producers Rick Derringer (Johnny Winter) and Jeff Glixman (Georgia Satellites) give it all an '80s edge, and it's ready to roll.

THE RADIATORS --

"Law of the Fish" (Epic BFE 40888).

NORMAN NARDINI --

"Love Dog" (CBS Associated BFZ 40435).

Both appearing Friday at the 9:30 Club.