THERE'S GOOD NEWS and bad news. First the bad: 300-pound male actress Divine, Baltimore's favorite boy/girl-next-door and self-described "most beautiful woman in the world" has released (unleashed is more like it) "Hey You."
It's a 12-inch dance disc that doesn't waver from the pattern of his 15 or so previous records, many of which have become club hits in England and other backward nations. An obviously out-of-sorts Divine bellows the lyrics, which consist mainly of the two-word title, over a relentless, monotonous, very late-'70s synthesized rhythm track.
Now the good news: Divine is the star of the new movie "Hairspray," but he/she doesn't sing a note on the soundtrack album. The movie is about a Baltimore teen dance TV show, and the record collects 11 long-overlooked tunes from the r&b-dominated pop period, before "those honkie Beatles ruined rock 'n' roll" (as "Hairspray" director John Waters put it in his book Crackpot ).
The "Hairspray" soundtrack gets off to a rousing start with the only "new" song, Rachel Sweet's title tune, a high-spirited, handclapping item that hits all the high points of girl-group goop. Then the dance party really gets going, with The Ray Bryant Combo's "Madison Time," a jazzy little stomper that features directions for Baltimore's indigenous, intricate line dance, which incorporates TV-inspired poses like "The Jackie Gleason" and "The Rifleman."
Elsewhere, The Ikettes let loose on "I'm Blue," Jan Bradley dishes out some serious dating advice on "Momma Didn't Lie," and Barbara Lynn turns up as the poor man's Leslie Gore on the hilariously saccharine "I Wish I Were a Princess." And -- quick, ma, the Flit -- there's also a pair of insect-inspired tunes, "The Roach Dance" and "The Bug." For you slow-dancers, they've tossed in Gene Pitney's monumentally melodramatic "Town Without Pity" and Baltimorean Toussaint McCall's soul-searing ballad "Nothing Takes the Place of You." I give it a 95.
DIVINE -- "Hey You" (INRT 6). Appearing Saturday at the 9:30 club.
VARIOUS ARTISTS -- "Hairspray" original soundtrack (MCA 6228).