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Superstar Albums To Fill Fall Season
We still have three weeks of summer — offi cially. But everyone knows Labor Day weekend signals the beginning of autumn. School’s back. Vacation’s over. Time to stock up on the leaf bags.
But for music fans, fall rocks.
The music industry reserves the last four months of the year for some of its biggest releases, scores of superstar titles that annually amount to 50 percent or more of sales. And in a year when sales are already down 5 percent from 2005, there are high hopes for a big buying season leading up to the holidays.
Around these parts the big news is Bob Seger’s “Face the Promise,” the Motor City rocker’s fi rst album of all-new material in 11 years, which comes out Sept. 12 — the same date as new albums by Justin Timberlake, John Mayer, Lionel Richie and Peter Frampton. But that’s just a little bit of the abundant ear candy headed our way.
Here’s a look at the most highly anticipated releases in the coming weeks.
Pretty maids all in a row
The heated competition in this fi eld started with the August releases of new albums by Christina Aguilera (“Back to Basics”) and Jessica Simpson (“A Public Affair”). The temperature rises Tuesday when Destiny’s Child refugee Beyoncé brings her second solo effort, “B’day,” whose fi rst single, “Déja Vù,” features boyfriend Jay-Z. The Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie makes her solo bow, “The Dutchess” — bearing the hot single “London Bridge” — on Sept. 19. And
Janet Jackson tries again to put her Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” behind her with “20 Years Old” on Sept. 26.
All the young dudes
The demise of boy bands has left this category comparatively fallow in recent years, but you can prime your cell phone cameras for a couple of the remaining titans when their latest work comes out Sept. 12. Former ’NSYNC heartthrob Justin Timberlake’s “Futuresex/ Lovesounds” follows his cred-establishing 2002 solo debut “Justified” and promises, via its first single, to bring “SexyBack.” Singerguitar hero John Mayer’s “Con tinuum,” meanwhile, is a more restrained affair with a decided blues and R&B emphasis and a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Bold as Love.” And if you feel like counting Britney Spears’ husband in this pack,
Kevin Federline’s first album, “Playing With Fire,” will be a very scary Halloween (Oct. 31) release.
Idols not idle
While America waits with baited breath to crown the sixth “American Idol,” his or her predecessors will be filling the CD racks with fresh material. The second-season crew goes first, as runner-up Clay Aiken delivers “A Thousand Different Ways” on Sept. 19, while winner Ruben Studdard pushed “The Return” back to Oct. 3 in order to avoid breathing down his cohort’s neck. Season 3’s Fantasia comes with her as-yetuntitled sophomore set on Nov. 7 — sweeps month, don’tcha know — while reigning champ Taylor Hicks and second seat Katharine McPhee are slated for late November but could well surface in December.
Rock ’n’ roll never forgets
Seger will have plenty of company this year from fellow musicmakers looking to make up for lost time. Lionel Richie has a big hit in “I Call It Love,” which bodes well for the Sept. 12 release of “Coming Home.” Those who would kill for a new
Jerry Lee Lewis album will end a decade-long wait with the Sept. 26 release of “Last Man Standing,” on which The Killer is joined by Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ron Wood, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Toby Keith and Detroit’s Kid Rock. Rod Stewart, another of Lewis’ guests, leaves the Great American Songbook and returns to rock for the first time in eight years with a set of covers dubbed “Still the Same ... Great Rock Classics of Our Time” on Oct. 10. Sean Lennon’s “Friendly Fire,” out Sept. 26, is his fi rst release in eight years. But that’s nothing compared to The Who ending a 24-year drought with “Endless Wire” on Oct. 30 or Yusuf Islam (a.k.a. Cat Stevens) putting out his first set of pop songs since 1978 with “An Other Cup” on Nov. 14. And Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham releases his first solo album in 14 years, an acoustic set called “Under the Skin,” on Oct. 3.
A couple of veteran rockers are turning back the clock to decades-old conceptual territory. Elton John’s “The Captain and the Kid,” out Sept. 19, is the long-awaited sequel to 1975’s “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.” And after some protracted legalities with onetime partner Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf is ready to release “Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose” on, appropriately enough, Halloween (Oct. 31).
Second time’s the charm
The next few months will see several high-profile — and high-stakes — sophomore efforts following up multiplatinum debuts. The Killers (“Sam’s Town”), Evanescence (“The Open Door”) and Jet (“Shine On”) all deliver on Oct. 3. Soul man John Legend teams again with Kanye West on “Once Again,” which comes out Oct. 24. Rapper The Game has set a Nov. 7 release for “The Devil’s Advocate,” and Maroon5 is expected to have the follow-up to its quadrupleplatinum 2002 debut out before year’s end. We’ll also be watching the Scissor Sisters’ “Ta-Dah,” which cuts into the market Sept. 26.
Bring the noise
Even though Nas will declare that “Hip-Hop is Dead” on Nov. 7, there’s plenty of other rappers betting that it’s alive and well. Ludacris unleashes “Release Therapy” on Sept. 26, while Diddy (a.k.a. P. Diddy, a.k.a. Puff Daddy, a.k.a. ... oh, forget it) puts out “Press Play,” his first album in five years, on Oct. 17. Also entering the fall fray are Young Jeezy (“The Inspiration,” Oct. 31) and Snoop Dogg (“Blue Carpet Treatment,” Nov. 21).
With so many proven superstars putting out albums, the fall can be a difficult time for new artists to make their mark — but it happens. The smart money this year is on Atlanta’s Sleepy Brown, who’s contributed vocal hooks to the OutKast and will ask us to call him “Mr. Brown” on Oct. 3. Other rookie releases worth watching include Chicago MC Lupe Fiasco’s “Food and Liquor” (Sept. 19) and 20-yearold British rapper Lady Sovereign’s “Public Warning” (Oct. 17). Brooklyn’s TV on the Radio is poised for bigger things with its major-label debut, “Return to Cookie Mountain” (Sept. 12), and Montreal’s the Dears have a strong buzz heading into its “Gang of Losers” (Oct. 3). And let’s not forget Supernova, the all-star group of CBS’ “Rock Star,” which will hustle the winning singer into the studio to ready its fi rst album for a Nov. 21 release.
Not every country star goes for Christmas or greatest hits albums at this time of year. Kenny Chesney’s new concert set, “Live Those Songs Again” (Sept. 19), draws from five years’ worth of taped shows. Alan Jackson welcomes Alison Krauss as a guest on “Like Red on a Rose” (Sept. 26). The legendary George Strait delivers his 34th album, “It Just Comes Natural,” on Oct. 3, while Vince Gill’s 43-song box set “These Days” features several new songs. Montgomery Gentry’s fi fth album, “Some People Change,” comes out Oct. 17, and demand for Dierks Bentley’s “Long Trip Alone” is so strong its release was moved up two weeks and now will also appear Oct. 17. And Nicole Kidman fans will line up for Keith Urban’s asyet-untitled Nov. 7 release.
Other stuff we’re just plain excited about ...
Audioslave’s third album, “Revelations,” hits stores Tuesday (see review, Page C-6) ... perennial Michigan favorites Barenaked Ladies return Sept. 12 with “Barenaked Ladies are Me,” the same day former Twisted Brown Trucker guitarist Kenny Olson’s new band, the Flask, puts out its debut, “Match in the Gas Tank” ... Beck teams with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on “The Information” (Oct. 3) ... At the Drive-In survivors Mars Volta bring their prog-metal “Amputechture” on Sept. 12, while their exbandmates’ group, Sparta, goes for “Threes” on Oct. 24 ... My Chemical Romance gets heavy with “The Black Parade” on Oct. 24 ... powerhouse singer Joan Osborne welcomes Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Rodney Crowell and others on Nov. 14th’s “Pretty Little Stranger” ... Incubus has its sixth album, “Light Grenades,” coming Nov. 28 ... and Modest Mouse tries to build on its mainstream breakthrough with December’s optimistically titled “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.”
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