Music: It's cheaper than ever!
Back when I was a wee lad, I used to save my spare change so I could rush out to my favorite record store and, for the grand sum of $10, pick out my choice of three brand new vinyl albums!
But pretty soon, prices started going up, CDs were introduced, and atmospheric mall stores started offering CD versions of the same albums I'd picked up for $3.33 for maybe $18 or so!
Luckily, they all went out of business!
And now, in an intriguing twist, record labels are getting so desperate to release albums that reach the top of the charts that they're charging just $3.99 for certain "high profile" new releases! Like the latest by Bon Jovi, which just hit No. 1! And this week's new releases by Rihanna and Adam Lambert! Maybe they'll be No. 1's too!
Of course, the cheap versions of these new releases are only available briefly and, more importantly, just as downloads, not physical objects! So don't worry! They're not even real!
Susan Boyle: I Dreamed A Dream (Syco/Sony BMG) Whatever dream this former Britain's Got Talent contestant dreamed, it probably didn't involve releasing her debut album on the "Syco" record label! For that matter, when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote "Wild Horses," they probably didn't expect this international celebri-babe to use it as an album opener nearly 40 years later! Now making history as the biggest pre-order in Amazon's history--translation: popular among those who don't like to leave the house!--this delightful disc features versions of "Cry Me A River," "Amazing Grace," "Daydream Believer," and even Madonna's "You'll See"! The title track--the Les Miserables tune she sang that shocked the world--is also included, and it's just as good as the entire world expects! In short, it's as if R&B and Elvis Presley never existed, Patti Page and Vera Lynn dominated the music business for three consecutive decades, and all's right with the world! Mix me a drink!
Rihanna: Rated R (Def Jam) A deft marketer who realized that recording under her real name Xaviera might cause eventual problems, Rihanna is back! Her fourth studio set features a batch of top-level collaborators including Ne-Yo, The-Dream and Tricky Stewart, Stargate, Justin Timberlake and some other guys, contains the popular "Russian Roullette" among other incredibly great tracks, and most importantly features a picture of the extremely photogenic artist glumly pondering the unexpected case of pink eye that arose scant hours before the album cover photo shoot! Of course, as has been well documented, the singer's had a run of bad luck in general during the past year or so, so things could be much worse! And because of that, let's simply say this is the best album ever and be done with it!
Shakira: She Wolf (Epic) In many ways one of the more astounding artists out there, international superstar Shakira has got it all! An excellent singer who's made a deft transition from a Spanish Alanis Morissette to an international Latin pop singer to She Wolf's surprising maker of borderline electropop, she's quite good! Plus, have you seen that video? Yee-hah! Most surprising here may be the track "Men In This Town," in which the Columbian songstress details a recent visit to such LA hotspots as the Sky Bar and the Standard and asks "Where are all the men in this town/ And what's a girl supposed to do?" Sadly, that must have been the week I flew to Kansas City to interview Weezer, but it fell through! But hey, I'm back now, Shakira--and I dig smart girls!
Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster (Deluxe Edition) (Streamline/Konlive/Cherrytree/Interscope) Might as well run through all the week's releases by photogenic women, especially since this one's doing better than ever at the moment! It's a fabulous 2-CD "deluxe" version of her debut album of last year, about which acclaimed writer Dave DiMartino once wrote: "I'm a bit taken with Lady Gaga, whose blend of pop, dance and R&B carries with it a high level of sophistication both in terms of influence and application. Plus, she's hot! Though her bio mentions such names as Peggy Bundy and Donatella Versace--whose CDs, I must admit, I've never heard--and her album contains tracks like 'Boys Boys Boys'--which, candidly, you should be careful listening to when driving around with your windows open--she's accessible in the very best sense and often wears sunglasses! Marry her!" Ha! Wonder what he thinks about this new version?
Beyoncé: I Am...Yours. An Intimate Performance At Wynn Las Vegas (Music World Music/Columbia) Well, this just about wraps up this week's round-up of new releases by attractive female artists who not only make stunning music videos but also sing on occasion! A live set featuring 2 CDs and a DVD, I Am...Yours features all the tracks you'd ever want to hear from Beyoncé in a live format, including the concise "Destiny's Child Medley: No, No, No Part 1\ No, No, No Part 2 (featuring Wyclef Jean)\ Bug A Boo (H-town Screwed Mix)\ Bills, Bills, Bills\ Say My Name\ Jumpin', Jumpin'\ Independent Women Part I\ Bootylicious\ Survivor " and much, much more! As indicated by the cover art, entrepreneur Wynn's latest Vegas hotel features an ultra-sophisticated high-tech stage incorporating force fields, wind tunnels and invisible curtains that can occasionally malfunction, but Ms. Knowles, ever the trouper, simply can't be stopped! That's why I--and, indeed, all the world--love her so!
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: The Live Anthology (Reprise) If you like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers--and many, many people do--then you'll probably do cartwheels when you see this deluxe box set, released in multiple versions, which collects a commendable array of live performances taken from the band's 30-year career and--to use a favorite cliché--knocks it out of the park! Mixed among the many fine originals here is a telling array of cover versions inspired by '60s rock 'n' roll bands like Them, the original Fleetwood Mac, the Zombies, the Dave Clark 5, Booker T & the MG's and even a cover of "Goldfinger," which may tell you all you need to know about the group's musical roots and impeccable taste! Aside from the "regular" 4-CD version, this set can also be had in Ultra Super Deluxe Form--which includes an additional CD, a Blu-ray audio disc of all 62 tracks, a pair of live DVDs, a vinyl repressing of the group's highly collectible 1976 Live Bootleg album, a book, and even backstage passes--which you can find out more about here. For an additional three grand, you also get the drummer!
Adam Lambert: For Your Entertainment (19 Recordings/RCA) Renowned for being the only talented guy to ever appear on American Idol, Lambert is a colorful singer with tremendous range and a penchant for breaking the rules, pushing the envelope, wearing eye make-up, and doling out kisses to objects animate and inanimate so long as a camera is present! Sort of like...all of us! There are more than a couple of good songs here--"Whataya Want From Me" and "Music Again," the latter co-written with Justin Hawkins of the Darkness, are the immediate standouts for me after being forced to hear the damn thing 15 or 20 times already because of where I sit!--but my plan is to buy it and simply stare at the cover artwork! You too?
Bob Seger: Early Seger Vol. 1 (Hideout Records) In many ways similar to Lambert--both are genetically male!--Detroit legend Bob Seger has a distinguished history and a similarly distinguished discography, much of which has been unavailable for a puzzlingly long time! This collection really stands as the first attempt to compile some of that missing history, and though it may strike some longtime fans as not being "early" enough--the man was making records in the '60s and the 10 tracks here extend back only through the early '70s--it's a start, as the Vol. 1 in the title attests! With remastered tracks highlighted by his classic "Get Out Of Denver," and four previously unreleased songs, Early Seger is available this week exclusively at Michigan's Meijer retail chain and starting Nov. 30th at http://www.bobseger.com/ ! Buy more than three and you get the Pontiac Silverdome!
Jay Sean: All Or Nothing (Ca$h Money/Universal Republic) Successful on a worldwide level and already hitting No. 1 Stateside with his massive hit "Down," British singer/songwriter Jay Sean is a former medical student who gave up those pesky notions of helping people in order to become a worldwide entertainment sensation! Cool! Reliable sources note that the man now sells out shows in "India, Russia, Poland, Dubai, Australia, Japan and the USA," which clearly is more than Marie Curie ever did! So good on him, I say!
Tom Waits: Glitter And Doom Live (Anti-) How much gravel can Tom Waits put in his mouth before he starts singing? Let him show you!