Pop fans will surely experience deja-vu, as new albums by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, Queen and Meatloaf hit stores in November, alongside fresh sets from contemporary acts like R. Kelly, Melissa Etheridge, Lucinda Williams and a semi-disguised U2.
Queen fans should be touched by “Made In Heaven” (Hollywood), with the at-death’s-door lead singer Freddie Mercury reflecting “My Life Has Been Saved,” “Let Me Live” and “Too Much Love Will Kill You.”
While the group on “Original Soundtracks 1” (Island) is identified as Passengers, the creators are Brian Eno, Bono and his buds from U2 (The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.) More than half the tracks ring with Bono’s baleful vocals; the movie music’s aura is experimental and atmospheric. Personal fave - the Indian raga-flavored (huh?) “Elvis Ate America.”
The double disc “Dick’s Picks Vol 3” (Grateful Dead Records) captures a stellar Grateful Dead show from ‘77 with extended versions of “Dancin’ In the Streets,” “Eyes of the World” and “Morning Dew.”
Bonnie Raitt’s first-ever concert recording and 25-year career overview,”Road Tested” (Capitol) is a generous two-disc set featuring guest appearances by Jackson Browne, Bryan Adams, Kim Wilson, Ruth Brown and Charles Brown. The distinctively fragile yet resilient vocalist/songwriter Victoria Williams and Her Loose Band have created one of the most artful and appealing concert albums ever, “This Moment in Toronto” (Mammoth).
Also out this week: Madonna’s delayed “Something To Remember” (Maverick) ballad collection with two new songs, a Carly Simon boxed set “Looking Forward Looking Back” (Arista) and Yoko Ono making sense and sensual animal sounds on “Rising” (Capitol) backed by Sean Ono Lennon’s rocking band.
“Le Q’s Juke Joint” (Qwest) is Quincy Jones’ grandest jazz/funk/pop fusion production, featuring vocal appearances by Ray Charles, Phil Collins, Gloria Estefan, Babyface, Queen Latifah and spoken cameos by Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy, Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, among others.
The self-titled “Alice In Chains” is the group’s first new studio set since ‘92. Van Dyke Parks’ rare musical vision and Brian Wilson’s gossamer vocal arrangments fuse beautifully on “Orange Crate Art” (Warner Brothers), a celebration of California life circa 1890-1920.
Ace of Base takes “The Bridge” (Arista.) Al Green works out in a secular vein on “Your Heart’s In Good Hands” (MCA). The Sparrow label’s top Christian rock star Carman starts a “R.I.O.T. (Righteous Invasion of Truth).” Oleta Adams is “Movin’ On” (Mercury).
The Rolling Stones unplug on “Stripped” (Virgin), warming up hits like “I’m Free,” “Street Fighting Man,” “Wild Horses” and “Dead Flowers” plus an appropriate cover of Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone.” (For more fun and games, put this “enhanced” disc in your multimedia computer to enjoy lyrics, interviews, an illustrated discography and video performance clips.)
Melissa Etheridge reveals “Your Little Secret” (Island) and Tracy Chapman celebrates a “New Beginning.” En Vogue’s Terry Ellis steps out on “Southern Gal” (EastWest). “R. Kelly” (Jive) shows a softer, romantic side to the man.
Meatloaf belts the songs of Dianne Warren, Sammy Hagar, Tom Waits and his old pal Jim Steinman on “Welcome To the Neighborhood” (MCA.)
Capitol pays tribute to octagenarian Frank Sinatra with two sets. “Sinatra 80th: All The Best” slips in a new electronic duet (that never happened) between the master and Nat King Cole on “The Christmas Song,” while “Live In Concert” captures high points from late ‘80s and early ‘90s shows including a unique duet with Luciano Pavorotti on “My Way.”
“Revolutions of Time … The Journey 1975-1993” (Sony Legacy) tracks Willie Nelson’s 18-year career at Columbia Records in a three-disc set.
Coinciding with ABC’s airing of a six-hour, three-part, three-night Beatles special (starting Nov. 19) comes “The Beatles Anthology I” (Capitol/Apple), a 60-track, two-CD treasure trove of previously unreleased Fab Four material from 1958 to ‘64. The sole exception is John Lennon’s “Free As a Bird,” a newly unearthed recording completed earlier this year by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. You’ll find early material from their Quarry Men days, five tracks from their unsuccessful Decca audition, never-before-heard early McCartney and Harrison songs, alternative studio takes, plus TV and radio performances of some early hits and comedy bits. Two more volumes of the “Anthology” are planned for ‘96.
Country superstar Garth Brooks rides “Fresh Horses” while Asleep At The Wheel marks its 25th anniversary with “The Wheel Keeps On Rolling” (both Capitol.)
Bruce Springsteen returns with “The Ghost of Tom Joad” (Columbia), another solo acoustic set in the “Nebraska” vein. The title refers to the Tom Joad character in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” previously immortalized in song by Woody Guthrie. Springsteen is planning a theater tour to support the album.
L.L. Cool J drops the varied hip hop set “Mr. Smith” (Island), Kris Kross are “Young, Rich & Dangerous” (Ruffhouse/Columbia) and Lost Boyz are looking for “Legal Drug Money” (MCA). DC Talk rap for the Lord on “Jesus Freak” (ForeFront.)
“Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame” (Columbia) has highlights from the Sept. 2 concert in Cleveland. Don Henley’s “Actual Miles: Henley’s Greatest Hits” (Geffen) ups the ante with two new ones from the Eagle flyer.