If the summer of '96 left pop fans with a profound sense of deja vu, as such reconstituted rock bands as KISS and the Sex Pistols toured the country, the fall ought to provide welcome relief -- at least to an extent.
With new albums on the way from Dr. Dre, Sheryl Crow, Crash Test Dummies, Counting Crows, Phil Collins, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Babyface, Alan Jackson, Snoop Doggy Dogg and the "Evita" soundtrack (featuring Madonna), there will be no shortage of fresh sounds for the pre-Christmas season. But as was the case this summer, retro-rockers will also have a significant presence, thanks to reunion albums by Journey, the Monkees (all four, including Mike Nesmith) and Van Halen (back with David Lee Roth again), as well as new releases from such long-silent stars as Donovan, Curtis Mayfield and Karen Carpenter.
It won't all be albums this fall, either. Although the summer tends to be the preferred season for pop tours, some major acts will be heading our way over the coming months.
One of the biggest arrives Tuesday, when Pearl Jam plays a sold-out show at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. Also on the way are Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Nas, Keith Sweat and SWV (Saturday at the Patriot Center); one-time Baltimorean Tori Amos (Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at the Lyric Opera House); Neil Diamond (Oct. 1 at USAir Arena); Alan Jackson (Oct. 4 at USAir Arena); the Richard Thompson Band (Oct. 14 at the Senator); and Z.Z. Top (Oct. 31 at USAir Arena). Likely but not yet announced are shows by Rush, Brooks & Dunn, and Robyn Hitchcock with Billy Bragg.
Unlike concert dates, which rarely move once they've been set, album release schedules are maddeningly uncertain. It's not unusual to see some albums pushed up a week or two while others get pushed back to sometime next year -- even if they were already "set" for release. Needless to say, this makes assembling a forecast a bit more like crystal-ball reading than we critics like. So keep in mind that the following dates are all subject to change.
Tuesday Sheryl Crow does her best to make lightning strike twice with "Sheryl Crow" (A&M;), the follow-up to her multiplatinum debut, "Tuesday Night Music Club." Although the album's sound is harder-rocking than its predecessor, the songs remain as tuneful as before.
Dr. Dre attempts to build his own empire -- and stop some of the madness bedeviling gangsta rap -- as he launches his own label, Aftermath. Its first release, "Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath," has already generated quite a buzz on the strength of the all-star rap "East Coast Killa/West Coast Killa."
Also due out that day are a moody, blues-soaked collaboration between John Parish and Polly Jean Harvey called "Dancehall at Louse Point" (Island); former Bangle Susannah Hoffs returns with "Susannah Hoffs" (London); Weezer uncorks its second pop-powered release, "Pinkerton" (DGC); and jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman further enhances his reputation with "Freedom in the Groove" (Warner Bros.).
Oct. 1: After listening to hundreds of hours of live tapes, surviving Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl have assembled the ultimate Nirvana live album, "From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah" (DGC). Drawing from performances recorded between 1989 and 1994, it presents a raw, aggressive version of the band's sound, and includes such songs as "Lithium," "Heart-Shaped Box" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Determined to show that there's more to their sound than "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm," Crash Test Dummies will release their third album, the sardonic "Worm's Life" (Arista). Meanwhile, Luther Vandross goes all out to reinforce his standing as an R&B; Love God with "Your Secret Love" (Epic).
Also out that week: Kenny G serves up another plate of soul-inflected instrumental pop with "The Moment" (Arista); Curtis Mayfield releases "New World Order" (Warner Bros.), his first full album since being paralyzed in a stage accident in 1990; Shawn Colvin dissects a failing relationship in the dark, thoughtful "A Few Small Repairs" (Columbia); and everyone from Blues Traveler to Tori Amos offers live performances on "VH1 Crossroads" (Atlantic).
Oct. 8: Remember when Alice Cooper was the scariest star in rock and roll? Those days will seem all the more quaint after shock rockers Marilyn Manson release their third, the deeply warped "Antichrist Superstar" (Interscope/Nothing). Just in time for Halloween, right?
Although Karen Carpenter began work on a solo album in 1980, it was unreleased at the time of her death in 1983, and apart from four tracks included on the posthumous Carpenters release "Lovelines," has remained unheard. That changes with the release of "Karen Carpenter" (A&M;).
Also out that day: Johnny Gill hedges his bets on the New Edition reunion with a solo album, "Let's Get the Mood Right" (Motown); Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz carry on without David Byrne as the Heads, with guest vocals by Debbie Harry, Michael Hutchence, Maria McKee and Live's Ed Kowalczyk (among others) on "No Talking, Just Head" (MCA/Radioactive); Chuck D starts his post-Public Enemy musical life with "Autobiography of Mista Chuck" (Mercury); Britain's Super Furry Animals, widely touted as the band most likely to emulate Oasis' success, make their play for American listeners with "Fuzzy Logic" (Epic).
Oct. 15: Did the post-David Lee Roth version of Van Halen seem like Van Hagar to you? Or did Sammy Hagar's stronger voice make that edition of the band more listenable than its heavy-attitude predecessor? Hard rock fans get another chance settle these questions when "The Best of Van Halen, Vol. 1" hits the streets. Included are "Can't Get This Stuff No More" and "Me Wise Magic," two new songs recorded with Roth.
The debate over whether there are second acts in rock and roll lives continues as Donovan and the Monkees try to re-enter the mainstream. Former flower child Donovan -- now better-known for the success of his children -- gets the Rick Rubin treatment on "Sutras" (American), while longtime holdout Mike Nesmith rejoins Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Davy Jones for "Justus" (Rhino), the first full-fledged Monkees album in 27 years. No TV show on the horizon, though.
Also out this week: Counting Crows try to put those Van Morrison comparisons behind them with "Recovering the Satellites" (DGC); Ghostface Killer furthers the spread of the Wu Tang empire with "Ironman" (Epic); Paula Cole shows why she's seen as being red-hot with "This Fire" (Warner Bros.); the Lemonheads take another swipe at success with "Button Car Cloth" (Atlantic); and further nuggets from the vaults turn up in the Grateful Dead best-of "The Arista Years" (Arista).
Oct. 22: Tired of the Beatles yet? The folks at Capitol sure hope you aren't, because they're releasing the third and final volume in their rarities series, "Anthology 3" (Apple). Think of it as one more reminder that the video version of "Anthology" would make a great Christmas gift ...
After leaving both his wife and his old band, you might expect to find Phil Collins down in the dumps. But the sound he delivers on "Dance into the Light" (Atlantic) is surprisingly chipper, making it his most upbeat and energetic solo album since "No Jacket Required."
Mary Chapin Carpenter may have finally become a big deal in Nashville, but that hasn't made her music any more countrified. If anything, the songs on "A Place in the World" (Columbia) are among the most pop-oriented she's written -- which is good news for all concerned.
Also out that week: Babyface serves up yet another batch of likely hits with "The Day" (Epic); Journey asks if we missed them with "Trial By Fire" (Columbia); and Filter shows that they're more than just Nine Inch Nails wannabes on "Phenomenology" (Reprise).
Oct. 29: Could Alan Jackson be the next Vince Gill? It's hard to imagine him being such a suave host on the CMA Awards, but if his singing keeps getting stronger, who knows? Find out when "Everything I Love" (Arista) hits the stores.
Also that week: If the Three Tenors struck you as classical music sexism, you'll love "The Three Sopranos" (Atlantic); Cyrus Chestnut delves into the hymnal for "Blessed Quietness" (Atlantic); Luscious Jackson heats things up with "Fever In, Fever Out" (Grand Royal/Capitol); and Wilco further rewrites the book on country rock with "Being There" (Reprise).
Nov. 5: What could be a more appropriate way to celebrate election day than listening to the newest album by the Presidents of the United States of America? Look for the cleverly-titled "2" (Columbia) in a store near you.
According to Hollywood insiders, Evita Peron was the role Madonna was born to play. Find out how that translates to her traditional medium with the release of the soundtrack album from the film "Evita!" (Maverick).
If the fatal shooting of Tupac Shakur struck you as being more like mob business than show business, you may be interested to note that Snoop Doggy Dogg is calling his sophomore release "Tha Doggfather" (Death Row). No word on whether it includes a Brando cameo.
Also out that week: Life at the movies gets dumber with the release of the soundtrack to "Beavis and Butt-head Do America" (Geffen); Tricky turns trip-hop even trippier on "Pre-Millennium Tension" (Island); Reba McEntire has an as-yet-untitled album due (MCA); Johnny Cash continues to court the rock market with "Unchained" (American); and jazz fans get an in-depth look at a ** piano genius at work with the Bill Evans boxed set "Turn Out the Stars: The Final Village Vanguard Recordings" (Warner Bros.).
Nov. 12: Whitney Houston continues her string of soundtrack releases with "The Preacher's Wife" (Arista), while older pop fans are faced with the difficult dilemma of choosing between new albums by Julio Iglesias (Columbia) and Barry Manilow (Arista). Tough call, eh?
Pub Date: 9/22/96