Before we get to this week's new releases, a few quick housekeeping items are in order.
This will be the final new release column of 2007. Since both Christmas and New Year's Day fall on a Tuesday this year — which is typically new release day for the labels — and since I have it on pretty good authority that the music business shuts down for the year by around the middle of December anyway, there is simply going to be little if anything to cover here until next year.
Besides, even your favorite Rockologist needs a little family time during the holidays.
But rest assured, the weekly New Release column will be back up and running come Tuesday, January 8, 2008. Hopefully, and with any luck, there will even be some actual new releases to talk about. I do know that for starters, the physical release of Radiohead's In Rainbows should be in stores by then.
That said, what we have this week is a very, very short list.
Whether or not you are one of those who swear that Mary J. Blige is the closest thing today's generation has to Aretha Franklin herself — and there are millions of her fans who will tell you exactly that — there's no denying that the so-called "Queen of hip-hop soul" has matured into a first rate vocalist, and one who is no longer limited by that label. On her eighth album, Growing Pains, she continues the transformation from hip-hop to pop that began with The Breakthrough. And yes, she is again sporting a new "do."
On Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, the guy who practically invented "nerd-wave" rock with the great nineties power-pop band Weezer unearths a long rumored collection of solo recordings dating from his pre-Weezer days right up until the present. Highlights here are said to include songs from a never released second Weezer album, Songs from the Black Hole. Count on Cuomo's songwriting smarts and impeccable sense for a great pop hook being on full display here.
For the soundtrack to the new Tim Burton/Johnny Depp vehicle, Sweeney Todd, there are actually two versions in stores this week. You can get either the complete soundtrack, or a Selected Highlights version featuring — among other things — Depp singing songs from the musical. We've heard Depp's performance in the movie is pretty scary at times, but the jury is still out on his singing.