With the shortest list of new releases seen this year, there isn't a whole lot to talk about this week. It's also probably safe to say that the labels are pretty much done for the year. Which brings us to a little NAR business…
Traditionally the record labels shut down for the year around the second week of December, which means — without any new releases to talk about — we at NAR would be doing the same. However, with this week's list being so short, it's possible this may be it for the year. Which means the shutdown for '08 might come a week early. We'll see what happens next week, but if you don't see us here you'll know why.
The good news here is that 2009 already looks promising, with new releases from Bruce Springsteen, U2, Eminem, Dr. Dre, and 50 Cent all headed our way in the first quarter alone.
Anyway…on to what we've got for your ears right now.
We're talking Britney, baby! She's tanned, she's rested, she's sober, she's sane, and she's back. It's Britney Spears with a brand new album called Circus (the title is supposed to be about her life…get it?). The new, cleaned-up Britney Spears is back to doing what she does best here, which is to say that Circus is loaded with innocuous sounding dance-pop ear candy. Come, and get you some Britney kids!
Neil Young has been promising us that massive boxed set of his Archives for so long now that it makes Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy look like a quickie knockoff by comparison. The latest news on Archives is that we're supposed to see it early next year — which I'll believe when and if we actually see it. The good news is that Neil continues to offer these nifty live sets from his vaults while we wait.
Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968 is the latest of these, and captures Neil at a unique point in his career just after Buffalo Springfield called it quits, and just prior to launching what would prove to be a legendary solo career. Parts of this concert have already been heard ("Sugar Mountain" showed up on Decade), but here we get the full performance in its entirety and restored with digital quality in DVD audio. I haven't heard this yet, but you can bet I'll be in line for it at the record store.
Akon is said to shift gears away from the hitmaking hip-hop and R&B of Convicted towards more of a dance and Euro-pop groove on his new CD Freedom. It's a bold step for a guy who's been nothing but gold thus far in his career, and it will be interesting to see if the new direction pays off for him.
Burl Ives and Danny Kaye have got your Christmas cheer for this week. In the meantime, Mark Saleski has a selection that is sure to cure all of your holiday blues.
I'm not one to argue with casting before I've laid a single beady eye on a film, but Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon? Mos Def as Chuck Berry? We'll just have to wait and see. I mean, Mos Def does look like a young Mr. Berry, and I would have rather seen Matt Dillon in the Leonard Chess role over Adrien Brody. Truth be told, I'm pretty psyched to see this movie about Chess Records. The story, and the story of the blues itself, should be taught in our schools. Kids should know who the Chess brothers and Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters are. They just should.
I can't help it, but I do like Beyonce's cover of "At Last," and the fact that Jeffrey Wright had the guts to sing the Muddy Waters parts really won me over. The soundtrack is available in single disc and two-disc deluxe versions.
Here are all of this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:
Pop, Club/Dance, Dance-Pop
Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968
Folk-Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Country-Rock
Paul Dukas: The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Post-Romantic Orchestral Music
A Boston Camerata Christmas
Christmas Music for Chorus
Eine schöne Rose blüht
Hungarian Christmas Music for Chorus
Contemporary R&B, 2-Step/British Garage, Club/Dance, Urban, Garage/House
Kodály: Háry János Suite; Summer Evening; Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song
Modern Orchestral Music
Favorites for Children
Children's Stories, Children's Folk
Grimm's & Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales for Children
Fairy Tales, Children's Stories
Andrew Violette: Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin
Contemporary Music for Violin
Music World Music/Columbia
Movie Themes, Original Score, Film Music, Soundtracks, Modern Electric Chicago Blues, Electric Blues
Cadillac Records [Bonus CD]
Music World Music/Columbia
Neo-Soul, Movie Themes, Original Score, Film Music, Soundtracks, Modern Electric Chicago Blues, Electric Blues
Panic at the Disco
…Live in Chicago
Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen
Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap, Gangsta Rap
Carly & Lucy Simon
Sing Songs for Children [2008 Reissue]
25: The Greatest Hits
Sophisti-Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul, Adult Contemporary, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop
Best of Chess: Original Versions of Songs in Cadillac Records
Blues, Chicago Blues, R&B