Thursday, September 01, 2005

Let the music battles begin

The battle of the behemoths starts now.

September marks the beginning of the important fourth quarter for the music biz and they're drawing on their big guns. It's a battle that might seem a little familiar.

The combatants include American stalwart Bob Dylan, British idols Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, Canadian icon Neil Young and a resurrected Jimi Hendrix.

Yes, it's the Sixties all over again when it comes to new releases for the Christmas season. Your music mega-corporations gear-up now so that they can get their acts on the covers of pop magazines, on TV and radio and before concert audiences.

Those old favorites will be fighting over shelf space and fan dollars.

Getting some high profile recognition are ex-Beatle McCartney and the Rolling Stones, both launching new albums and tours. Since there has been professional and fan rivalry between the Beatles and Stones for 40 years, those two acts will draw the most publicity and the media and business savvy McCartney and Mick Jagger are not unaware of that fact.

The Stones have already opened their world tour which includes 35 dates in the United States and Canada.

The accompanying album titled "A Bigger Bang," will be released Sept. 6.

The new studio album--their first in eight years--has 16 cuts, including two featuring Jagger's song-writing partner and bandmate Keith Richards on lead vocals. One track, "Sweet Neo Con," has been generating controversy due to its apparent criticism of the Bush administration.

McCartney's long-player, meanwhile, will see the light of day on Sept. 13. Already, three songs, topped by single "Fine Line," can be heard on the veteran rocker's website. Titled "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," McCartney's disc is his twentieth studio album since the Beatles.

The album, produced by Nigel Godrich of Radiohead fame, took two years to record. Fans will be able to hear live versions of tracks from the LP when McCartney launches his tour the following week. A TV special featuring many of the songs will also be aired.

Joining the fray is fellow Britisher Eric Clapton, whose "Back Home" album just hit store shelves. The disc features seven originals penned by the guitar god and a handful of cover tunes, including George Harrison's "Love Comes to Everyone." Clapton's previous two albums of Robert Johnson material were well-received by fans and critics alike.

Folk rocker Bob's Dylan's entry into the Christmas sweepstakes will center on a CD-- already out-- and DVD to be released on Sept. 20. "No Direction Home" comprises rare and unreleased recordings from 1961-66. The film, produced by Martin Scorsese, will make its worldwide premiere on PBS on Sept. 26 & 27.

Vintage performances will also be key in the Hendrix two-DVD set, "Live at Woodstock (Deluxe Edition)". Streeting Sept. 13, the performance features the late Hendrix remastered, remixed and re-edited. The visuals have been significantly improved with the recent discovery of film from an additional camera. Hendrix, of course, was headliner at Woodstock, but his segment started after many in the audience had left.

Warhorse Neil Young will cap off the month with the Sept. 27 release of "Prairie Wind." The new album is said to be a powerful summing up of the singer-songwriter's entire career. And, yes, like everybody else, it's a 40-year career.

Meanwhile, the winner of this new release mega-battle will be revealed following the Christmas season when those giant music corporations tally up their fourth quarter profits. Stay tuned.

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