Mister D: I’m just going to show the ones I’m looking forward to and whatever Mr. Cohen’s description was of them….good or bad:-)
Hail to the beat
BY HOWARD COHEN
The battle of the American Idols Part II. Sophomore Strokes, Alicia Keys and Nelly Furtado. Back on track (but back in our hearts?) Courtney Love, The Mavericks and Britney Spears.
These are just some of the coming new releases music fans and a worried music industry have to look forward to between now and the all-important holiday buying season.
And yet, with sales in decline 30 percent over the past three years and the Recording Industry Association of America suing downloaders, these aren’t the brightest of days for the music business.
But for consumers that gloom ‘n’ doom could be good news. Universal, home to artists such as Eminem, Shania Twain and Ashanti, recently cut the list price of its CDs by $6 to $12.98. Since hot new products are generally discounted heavily by mass merchants, especially in week of release, fans should find big-name CDs selling for under $10. If the new price point works for Universal (and why wouldn’t it?) expect the other majors — Warner Bros., Sony, BMG and EMI — to follow suit.
As for the concert season, look for the usual crop of sure-fire attractions (mostly veteran acts such as Elton John, Cher and Simon & Garfunkel and a four-night Phish run in Miami), non-mainstream acts grown big (Radiohead), buzz acts in club shows (The Raveonettes) and wild cards (Alabama’s Farewell Tour — will anyone still care?)
• Aretha Franklin, So Damn Happy. She’s still cool after 40-some years in the business. So we’re damn happy. We’d be damn happier if this overly contemporary album was worthy of her talents, though.
• The Mavericks, The Mavericks. The reunited group’s first CD in six years features a contribution from the ubiquitous Willie Nelson.
• Bette Midler, Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook. Bette reunites with producer/arranger/pianist Barry Manilow (he did the honors on her first two albums 30 years ago) to pay homage to the beloved pop/jazz singer on a swinging, old-fashioned disc.
• Sting, Sacred Love. Why does this sound boring already?
• Cassandra Wilson, Glamoured. Sexy, sultry and earthy, jazz singer’s latest hops to folk and jazz and back again. The one constant: Wilson’s warm, distinctive voice. Featured covers of Lay Lady Lay, (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right and Fragile are aural aphrodisiacs when Wilson puts her stamp on them.
• Clay Aiken, Clay Aiken. Who needs to win American Idol? Here’s the man with the most active young fan base in the business — Claymates they call themselves and woe to anyone who disses their beloved singing idol. If ever a record proved critic proof it’s this one.
• Barbra Streisand, The Movie Album. Don’t discount the older record buyer with disposable income. This labor of love’s going to be big. We’ve heard The Movie Album and Streisand, still pop’s most precise singer, sounds exquisite.
• Meshell Ndegeocello, Comfort Woman.
• Rod Stewart, The Great American Songbook: Volume II. You have yourself to blame for buying all those copies of the dreadful Volume I. Rod, you rock. Save the standards for those who know how to sing them.
• Josh Groban, title TBA. Young crooner’s second studio album.
• Courtney Love, America’s Sweetheart. Yeah, right.
• Ruben Studdard, Soulful. He won the title American Idol, but so far has been overshadowed by the more personable runner-up Clay Aiken. The big guy has to prove he’s worthy of the title on this much-anticipated debut.
• Pink, title TBA. Popular singer’s third album. Will it get the party started?
• LeAnn Rimes, Greatest Hits (To Be Continued). Rather optimistic title, no?
• Alicia Keyes, title TBA. Grammy winner took her sweet time following up Songs in A Minor. Too long, perhaps?