It's going to be crowded in CD stores by Christmas.
After a largely superstar-less summer, the record industry is coming on strong for the fall, with a boatload of big-name releases set to be in stores by early December.
Just some of the highlights: Garth Brooks, Nine Inch Nails, Will Smith, Barbra Streisand, Rage Against the Machine, Brooks & Dunn, Paula Cole, Sting, Don Henley, Biggie Smalls, Mariah Carey, Marilyn Manson, Jewel, Metallica, Savage Garden, Beck, Live, Dru Hill, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Fiona Apple and Korn.
Things won't be quite as crazed on the concert side of things. Although there are a couple of big festivals on the horizon, including the year's second HFStival (this one featuring Limp Bizkit, the Chemical Brothers, 311, Filter and others), there are relatively few big-name tours.
Teen sensations the Backstreet Boys have two sold-out shows at the MCI Center next week, hard rockers Creed and Our Lady Peace are due at the Patriot Center on Sept. 28, and alt-rockers Live are likely to play somewhere in Washington in late November, but beyond that, it should be relatively quiet in the arenas for a while.
It's just as well, since music fans will want to save their pennies for CD shopping.
Perhaps the strangest new release is "Garth Brooks ... In the Life of Chris Gaines" (due Sept. 28), in which the country superstar assumes the identity of a tragically tormented (and totally fictitious) Australian rock star.
In some cases, fans have literally been waiting years for these albums. Half a decade has passed since moody industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails released their last album, "The Downward Spiral," and advance word suggests that "The Fragile" (due Sept. 21) is even more exhilaratingly intense than its predecessor.
Michael Jackson's last big blast was four years ago, when he decided to make "HIStory," a two-CD mix of greatest hits and new recordings. He's expected to follow that up with a whole album of new stuff -- his first since 1991's "Dangerous" -- sometime this fall, though there's no word on exact timing or name.
Former Eagle Don Henley hasn't released an album of new material since "The End of the Innocence" in 1989. He finally breaks his silence with "Otherwise" (due Nov. 2).
In the three years since Rage Against the Machine released its last album, "Evil Empire," a slew of bands has emulated Rage's rap/metal fusion. Rage guitarist Tom Morello promises the band's new album (due Nov. 9) "is going to send them all back to the woodshed."
There are also a number of reunions on the way. Fans of '80s electro-pop will be happy to know that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart re-team as the Eurythmics for "Peace" (due Nov. 19); and classic rockers can look forward to "Looking Forward," a new one from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (due Oct. 26).
Here are some of the more significant albums scheduled for release this fall. Bear in mind that all release dates are subject to change.
Beatles, "Yellow Submarine" (Capitol). A reworked version of the familiar soundtrack, including songs heard in the film but not included on the old soundtrack album. Sept. 15
Nanci Griffith, "The Dust Bowl Symphony" (Elektra). Who says a working-class perspective and orchestral arrangements don't mix? Sept. 15
O.D.B., "N***a Please" (Elektra). What he's been up to between arrests? Sept. 15
Tori Amos, "to venus and back" (Atlantic). A double-CD set, with one disc of new studio recordings and one of live performances from her last tour.
Brooks & Dunn, "Tightrope" (Arista). The fifth album from country music's most popular duo. Sept. 21
Chris Cornell, "Euphoria Morning" (A&M;). A brash, Beatles-influenced solo album by the former Soundgarden singer. Sept. 21
Iron Maiden, "Ed Hunter" (Portrait/Columbia). Remember the glories of early '80s metal? They sure hope you do. Sept. 21
Nine Inch Nails, "The Fragile" (Nothing/Interscope). Another musically adventurous look into the tortured soul of NIN frontman Trent Reznor. Sept. 21
Stereolab, "Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night" (Elektra). More quirky, hypnotic, synth-heavy art pop from these Anglo-French alt-rockers. Sept. 21
Barbra Streisand, "A Love Like Ours" (Columbia 69601). A love song-heavy celebration of her romance with actor James Brolin. Sept. 21
Various artists, "Saturday Night Live: The Musical Performances" (Dreamworks). No joke -- a collection of songs live from New York, featuring Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Nirvana, Dr. Dre, the Grateful Dead and more. Sept. 21
Marc Anthony, "I Need to Know" (Columbia). A mostly English album, big on ballads, by one of the best-selling singers in Hispanic pop. Sept. 28
Garth Brooks, "Garth Brooks ... In the Life of Chris Gaines" (Capitol). No twang here, as Brooks assumes the identity of an Australian rocker and tries his hand at everything from Beatlesque pop to mild rap. Sept. 28
Meredith Brooks, "Deconstruction" (Capitol). A funky follow-up from the singer who gave us "Bitch." Sept. 28
Paula Cole, "Amen" (Warner Bros./Imago). More solid, soulful pop from the Grammy favorite. Sept. 28
Everything But the Girl, "Temperamental" (Atlantic). Not as break-up obsessed as "Walking Wounded," but offering the same sweet blend of melodic melancholy and drum 'n' bass beats. Sept. 28
Indigo Girls, "Come On Now Social" (Epic). A further exploration of the folk duo's jam-band impulses. Sept. 28
Method Man & Redman, "Blackout!" (Island/Def Jam). Two of the smartest and most distinctive rappers on the New York scene join forces. Sept. 28
Sting, "Brand New Day" (A&M;). Showing off his jazzy side, this album finds the former Police-man taking more chances musically. Sept. 28
David Bowie, "hours..." (Virgin). Abandoning the drum 'n' bass influence of his last albums, Bowie returns to the arch, arty sound of his "Diamond Dogs" days. Oct. 5
Melissa Etheridge, "Breakdown" (Island/Def Jam). A raucous return to action. Oct. 5
B.B. King, "Let the Good Times Roll" (MCA). More New Orleans-style music from the legendary bluesman. Oct. 5
Live, "The Distance to Here" (MCA). The long-awaited follow-up to 1997's "Secret Samhadi." Oct. 5
Paul McCartney, "Run Devil Run" (Capitol). His first album since the death of his wife, Linda. Oct. 5
Take 6, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (Reprise). And, no doubt, a happy New Year. Oct. 5
311, "Soundsystem" (Capricorn). Crunchy and funky, with a strong reggae flavor. Oct. 5
Alice In Chains, "Alice In Box" (Columbia/Legacy). A triple-CD survey of the influential Seattle band's career, from early demos to late live stuff. Oct. 12
Eric Clapton, "Clapton In Concert" (Duck/Reprise). Yet another live disc from the veteran guitarist. Oct. 12
Clash, "The Clash Live from Here to Eternity" (Epic). A live album compiling live performances from across the early punk band's career. Oct. 12
Gerald Levert, "G" (East/West). Another smooth, savvy effort by the hip-hop-savvy soul man. Oct. 12
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, "This Beautiful Life" (Interscope). Another serving of swing from the "You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)" boys. Oct. 19
Natalie Cole, "The Magic of Christmas" (Elektra). Songs of the season. Oct. 19
Michael Crawford, "A Michael Crawford Christmas" (Atlantic). Carols from the "Phantom of the Opera" star. Oct. 19
Cypress Hill, "Los Grandes Exitos en Espanol" (Columbia). Like it says, the Chicano rap group's greatest hits in Spanish. Oct. 19
Eurythmics, "Peace" (Arista). Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, back together at last! Oct. 19
Bryan Ferry, "As Time Goes" (Virgin). A collection of vintage standards by the former Roxy Music singer. Oct. 19
Amy Grant, "Christmas" (A&M;). Songs from her favorite holiday. Oct. 19
Julio Iglesias Jr., "Under My Eyes" (Epic). Can you say "A chip off the old block"? Oct. 19
Melanie C, "Northern Star" (Virgin). A solo album from the Spice Girls' Sporty Spice. Oct. 19
Ringo Starr, "I Wanna Be Santa Claus" (Island/Def Jam). Please bring me a Beatle for Christmas. Oct. 19
Various artists, "Woodstock '99" (Epic). A collection of musical highlights from this summer's festival. Rioting optional. Oct. 19
B*witched, title to be determined (Epic). The sophomore effort by Ireland's premier teen girl group. Oct. 26
Bush, "The Science of Things" (Geffen). The much-delayed follow-up to "Razorblade Suitcase." Oct. 26
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, "Looking Forward" (Reprise). In which the veteran rockers head back down that four-way street. Oct. 26
Genesis, "Greatest Hits" (Atlantic). Two CDs of material, covering both the Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins years. Oct. 26
Soundtrack, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me 2" (Maverick). More shagadelic music from the movie. Oct. 26
Soundtrack, "The Insider" (Columbia). A moody, dramatic score featuring work by Lisa Gerard of Dead Can Dance. Oct. 26
Soundtrack, "King of the Hill" (Elektra). Songs from the TV show, with some big-name musical guests. Oct. 26
Soundtrack, "Ally McBeal II" (Epic). More from Vonda Sheppard, the show's resident songstress. Oct. 26
Soundtrack, "Touched By an Angel Christmas" (Epic). To be heard on high, of course. Oct. 26
Stone Temple Pilots, "No. 4" (Atlantic). The quartet's fourth album, recorded during singer Scott Weiland's breaks from rehab. Oct. 26
Various artists, "Hard Knock Life" (Island/Def Jam). A live one from the year's most successful hip-hop tour, featuring Jay-Z and others. Oct. 26
The Who, "BBC Sessions" (MCA). As with the Beatles, the Yardbirds and Jimi Hendrix, classic recordings from the BBC archives. Oct. 26
Babyface, title to be determined (Epic). Another solo effort from the enormously successful songwriter and producer. Nov. 2
Biggie Smalls, "Born Again" (Bad Boy). Material from the vault, offered in tribute to the late rapper. Nov. 2
Mariah Carey, "Rainbow" (Columbia). More music with a strong rhythmic edge from the popular diva. Nov. 2
Counting Crows, "This Desert Life" (Geffen). A step forward stylistically for the traditionalist rockers. Nov. 2
Jewel, "Jewel's Christmas" (Atlantic). Listen as she hangs her stocking with care... Nov. 2
Don Henley, "Otherwise" (Warner Bros.). Finally free of Geffen Records, the former Eagle once again takes on the boomer zeitgeist. Nov. 2
Marcy Playground, "Shapeshifter" (Capitol). A second helping from the "Sex and Candy" kids. Nov. 2
Metallica with the San Francisco Symphony, title to be determined (Elektra). Who says heavy metal isn't long-hair music? Nov. 2
Vernon Reid, title to be determined (Epic). A solo effort from the guitarist behind Living Colour. Nov. 2
Robbie Robertson, "Making a Noise" (Capitol). More imaginative rock from the former Band singer and guitarist. Nov. 2
The Roots, "The Roots Come Alive" (MCA). A concert recording from hip-hop's premier self-contained band. Nov. 2
Savage Garden, "Affirmation" (Columbia). A second serving of sweet, sentimental love songs from the duo responsible for "Truly, Madly." Nov. 2
Beck, title to be determined (Geffen). Reportedly, this is his sequel to the beat-heavy "Odelay." Nov. 9
Michael Bolton, "Timeless: The Classics" (Columbia). No, not Mozart. Bolton's greatest hits. Nov. 9
Doors, "Complete Recordings" (Elektra). A boxed set including everything Jim Morrison and company ever cut. Nov. 9
Perry Farrell, "Rev" (Warner Bros.). A collection of the singer's work with both Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros. Nov. 9
Guy, title to be determined (MCA). Teddy Riley's influential new jack swing group makes a reunion album. Nov. 9
Faith Hill, "Breathe" (Warner Bros.). More pop-friendly country from the singer responsible for "This Kiss." Nov. 9
Li'l Kim, title to be determined (Atlantic). Nasty, but nice. Nov. 9
Natalie Merchant, "Live In Concert" (Elektra). Songs from the former 10,000 Maniac's last solo tour. Nov. 9
Rosie O'Donnell, "Make This Holiday Extra Special" (Columbia). A Christmas album with plenty of guest stars. Nov. 9
Rage Against the Machine, title to be determined (Epic). The third release from this pioneering rap/metal fusion band. Nov. 9
Will Smith, "Willennium" (Columbia). Watch as the Big Willie continues with his plan for world entertainment dominance. Nov. 9
Soundtrack, "Pokemon" (Atlantic). Yet another collectible, the soundtrack to an animated film, packed with teen pop. Nov. 9
Beastie Boys, "Anthology" (Capitol). Their greatest hits, and then some. Nov. 16
Celine Dion, "Greatest Hits" (Epic). Her heart will go on, and so will her sales. Nov. 16
Dru Hill, title to be determined (Island/Def Jam). A third album from Baltimore's foremost R&B; act. Nov. 16
Marilyn Manson, "The Last Tour on Earth" (Nothing/Interscope). Sonic depravity from the shock-rocker's last tour. Nov. 16
Soundtrack, "Man on the Moon" (Warner Bros.). Mostly instrumental music from the members of R.E.M. Nov. 16
Fiona Apple, title to be determined (Epic). A new one from the slim-and-sensitive singer/songwriter who gave us "Criminal." Nov. 23
Korn, title to be determined (Epic). The most popular band in hard rock hits us again. Nov. 23
LL Cool J, title to be determined (Island/Def Jam). Taking a break from his film career, Uncle L returns to what he does best. Nov. 23
Nas, "Nastradamus" (Columbia). Who can say what the future holds for this New York rap star? Nov. 23
MX, title to be determined (Island/Def Jam). More hard beats and tough talk from one of rap's most prolific stars. Dec. 21
Jay-Z, title to be determined (Island/Def Jam). Having made his name with "Hard Knock Life," he's out to prove his success is no fluke. Dec. 28
Third Eye Blind, title to be determined (Elektra). More from the "Semi-Charmed Life" band.
En Vogue, title to be determined (EastWest). Return of the three funky divas.
Michael Jackson, title to be determined (Epic). Is he still king of pop? This is where we find out.