Hi there! Once again, it's my turn to lay out for you in concise form some of the absolutely biggest albums of the week. Not necessarily the best, and certainly not literally the biggest--I mean, what with the standard configuration of today's compact disc, it's safe to say they're all roughly the same size, right?--but the ones you're going to see populating the supplements in your Sunday newspaper, if you're the kind of human who reads newspapers in the first place. Yeah, that's exactly what I'm going to do! Sort of.
T.I.: T.I. vs. T.I.P. (Grand Hustle/Atlantic) Speaking of Sunday supplements, and the pesky way record labels don't send out advance copies of hip-hop albums because they're scared people will stream them for free on the internet--sometimes we just have to guess what albums are going to be about. And based on the cover of this fab disc, I'm going to hypothesize that rapper T.I.--let's call him "T" for short--has constructed a thrilling, introspective drama based on his experience ordering pizza from Domino's. Yeah, that's it! The pizza came 10 minutes late, and now "T" doesn't know whether he should give the delivery man a tip or not! I'm willing to bet it'll be an album-length struggle that'll engross each and every one of us! Talk about having your finger on the pulse!
VELVET REVOLVER: Libertad (RCA) The long-awaited second album from these hard-rockin', high-pedigreed Dudes From Heck may well be the best Velvet Revolver album yet! Just check out this rockin' combo's LIVE SETS performance elsewhere on Y! Music and you'll get an inkling of what I'm talking about. The big question: Is it as good as Guns N' Roses? Is it as good as the Stone Temple Pilots? Hey, that depends who's asking! All I can tell you--and, indeed, all of America's retailers who lack the basics of the Spanish language--is that "libertad" means "freedom" and not "free," so if people keep walking out of your store without paying for this, it's up to you to clue them in, gringo!
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK: Transformers: The Album (Warrner Bros.) I think all of us have been waiting for a film about this astounding pop cultural phenomenon--yeah, that and the actual ability to fly--so I'm sure that a soundtrack chock-full of rockin' hits by the likes of the Smashing Pumpkins, Linkin Park, and the Goo Goo Dolls will be just what the doctor ordered! Looking like a great chance for Warner Bros. Records to show off their "alternative rock" roster, this disc features a special bonus--tracks by Taking Back Sunday, Armor For Sleep, Idiot Pilot and Mutemath that actually aren't even in the movie! I suspect this may be the best life will ever get for us, so let's go for the gusto!
JOHN COLTRANE: My Favorite Things: Coltrane At Newport (Impulse) Here's a welcome reissue from tenor sax giant Coltrane that appears to be the half of the New Thing At Newport 1965 recording he shared with Archie Shepp back in the '60s--this time completely on his own and bolstered by four additional, previously unreleased tracks. Once can only hope that never-before-heard album opener "Spoken Introduction" is a stirring addition to his legacy! Heck, glad to see there's more in the vaults--whip it on us, label dudes!
QUEENSRYCHE: Mindcrime At The Moore (Rhino) With a simultaneously released double-CD and DVD here, rockers Queensryche are back with a vengeance! Sadly, the vengeance stayed home and watched TV the night this was recorded--and all we're left with is an ambitious batch of arty hard rock highlighted by the high-pitched wailing of lead singer Geoff Tate! Oh well, you've got to admire any singer who anglicizes the spelling of his name for art! Don't you?
COLLIE BUDDZ: Collie Buddz (Columbia) In a stunning reversal of common-sense logic, "Collie Buddz" is actually a New Orleans-born, Bermuda-raised reggae and dancehall artist--and not a duo featuring the legendary Lassie and some other dog! With that understood, I'm sure the appeal of his hit "Come Around" will be enough to attract misled dog-lovers and reggae and dancehall artist fans alike! Plus, I just met this guy and he seems OK!
WIDESPREAD PANIC: Choice Cuts: The Capricorn Years 1991-1999 (Capricorn/Legacy) A "greatest hits" collection by a respected jam-band predecessor that didn't really have any hits, this set features tracks personally selected by band members and--most strikingly--a picture of a goat on its cover! If, like me, you make decisions about albums based entirely on its packaging versus the actual music within, you'll agree that this may well be the best album ever! It's easier this way!
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK: Talk To Me (Atlantic) From the upcoming film starring Don Cheadle--in which he portrays '60s radio personality Petey Greene--comes this groovy soundtrack featuring a bundle of R&B classics from Atlantic Records' vaults by the likes of Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and Clarence Carter, among others. Also of interest: a surprisingly great "new" cover of "Compared To What" by Meshell Ndegeocello. Oddly, much of this music sounds better than the latest hits by Jessica Simpson and even the Cranberries!
KELLY ROWLAND: Ms. Kelly (Music World/Columbia) With a boatload of hot producers and guest appearances by Snoop Dogg, best-named-new-artist-in-the-world Tank, and the delightful Eve--again, the R&B artist and not first woman ever--Kelly's put together an album that should prove, once and for all, that Kelly's put out a new album! Filled to the brim with wave files--or, more accurately, cda files--this disc will be filed right next to that of Rowland's more famous counterpart, Beyonce!
SILVERSTEIN: Arrivals & Departures (Victory) Certainly the best band currently performing under this name, emo-rockers Silverstein could probably excite their massive fanbase were they to record an actual album of songs completely based on the daily flight schedule of Chicago's O'Hare Airport! Word is, though, that this isn't it! It's just their new album! Oh well--beggars can't be choosers!