Finally Going Public: Jessica Simpson fans better have slipped into their dance shoes a bit early in anticipation of her new album, A Public Affair. Those who preordered were rewarded with not just a collector's DVD, but also a free download of the same-named single, a preview of two more cuts and entry into the "Hang With Jessica" sweepstakes. Still, anyone who picks up the LP will be able to use it to unlock an extra tune, "I Belong to Me," as a Windows download. Although Jessica's writing contributions don't surface until later in the album, she executive produced the whole shebang with father Joe Simpson. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced three tracks, including "Push Your Tush," while Simpson does the throwback thing by borrowing from the Cars, Stevie Nicks and the Ohio Players elsewhere. Hot stuff.
A New Method: For 4:21 ... The Day After, Method Man dug up the ashes of Jimi Hendrix by recording in Electric Lady Studios, which the guitarist breathed more than just life into in the '70s. But this Man's effort is pure hip-hop, cemented by contributions from Lauryn Hill, Fat Joe, producer Scott Storch, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Ginuwine, Raekwon, Erick Sermon, Havoc and the RZA. Quite the party.
Reggae's Undisputed Champ?: Beenie Man is feeling pretty social these days too, ushering in a handful of R&B heavyweights for his distinctly dancehall record, Undisputed. Janet Jackson pays a visit on the Neptunes-produced "Feel It Boy," Akon helps him take care of "Girls," Scott Storch touches up "Dutty Wine Gal," and Lady Saw chimes in on "My World."
Tego to Go: While Beenie is one of reggae's biggest names these days, a pioneer of one of the genre's offshoots, reggaetón, is also checking in this week. Tego Calderón's The Underdog/ El Subestimado might seem like a bilingual effort, but it's almost all sung in Spanish, save the Buju Banton-featuring "Bad Man" and "Chillin' " with Don Omar. A sample of Jimmy Cliff's "Sooner or Later" also crops up on the record, half of which was recorded in Miami.
Blow-in' It: Too Short makes this week's competition even stronger by dropping Blow the Whistle, his first proper release since 2003's Married to the Game. David Banner bolsters "Baller," and Jazze Pha partakes in "16 Hoes," but Too Short proves he can hold his own with "I Want Your Girl," "Pimpin' Forever," "Call Her a Bitch" and other instructional songs.
Game On: With all the rap heavyweights dishing up new slices this week — there's also Young Dro (Best Thang Smokin') and Loon (No Friends) — the Roots' diverse Game Theory will be a breath of fresh air. The Philly phenoms sample the Jackson 5's "All I Do Is Think of You" on "Can't Stop This," which Jay Dee produced before he died earlier this year. And the record becomes even more eclectic as Black Thought, ?uestlove and the squad tap into Radiohead's "You and Whose Army" and Sly & the Family Stone's "Life of Fortune and Fame."
Singer/Songwriter Stew: Among all the hip-hop activity, a smattering of singer/songwriters are chiming in as well, and the truly varied crew is challenging the limitations of the term. Probably the best-known singer/songwriter of them all, Bob Dylan, tallies his first studio LP in five years, Modern Times. Fans will want to scoop up the limited-edition deluxe version, which has an expanded booklet, previously unreleased photos and a DVD with four goodies: a performance of "Cold Irons Bound" that was shot during the making of the 2003 bomb "Masked and Anonymous," a rendition of "Love Sick" from the Grammy Awards and videos for "Blood in My Eyes" and "Things Have Changed." There's also another DVD, "Bob Dylan 1966 - 1978: After the Crash," which was produced in conjunction with the well-regarded Dylan fanzine Isis and culls phone conversations, rarely seen material and interviews with his collaborators.
Fellow Columbia artist Pete Yorn — who appeared alongside Dylan on the 2001 "Bandits" soundtrack — brings to a close the three-album trilogy that launched his career with Nightcrawler, which he's been hyping with a litany of in-store and club performances. Fans who preordered were gifted with the bonus limited-edition EP Westerns, which he has said was inspired by Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, but everyone will be able to enjoy "Bandstand in the Sky," "Policies" and "The Man," which features Dixie Chick Natalie Maines.
While Yorn's Nightcrawler is a distinctly rock record, Ray LaMontagne tones it down with Till the Sun Turns Black, produced by Ethan Johns (2004's Trouble, Ryan Adams). Expect stripped roots-folk throughout from the RCA Records artist, including "Truly, Madly, Deeply," "Barfly" and "Three More Days."
Continuing to buck the major labels is M. Ward, whose fifth record features guest spots by My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Neko Case and Saddle Creek Records production stalwart Mike Mogis. Post-War boasts "Today's Undertaking," "Neptune's Net" and "Chinese Translation."
You Hear It First artist Támar Davis injects some guitar soul into the mix with Milk & Honey, which is bound to be mixed up with John Lennon's album of the same name as it hits the record racks. "Beautiful, Love and Blessed" pits her with Prince, but people ranging from Naomi Judd to Arsenio Hall have been singing her praises.
Also stepping up to the plate is Bostonian Catie Curtis, whose 12-song Long Night Moon features Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Push Stars' Chris Trapper; Iowan William Elliott Whitmore, whose nine-track Song of the Blackbird finds him reinterpreting "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"; and New Yorker Sasha Dobson, whose Modern Romance sees her branching out into Brazilian music, folk and pop.
Song Title of the Week:
"Konichiwa Bitches" from Method Man's 4:21 ... The Day After
Various artists' "Kill Your Idols" DVD: After winning the Tribeca Film Festival's rather narrow Best New York Documentary Feature honor but only getting a brief theatrical run, the underground-music film gets upped with bonus interviews and live-performance clips in the DVD version. If you've always wondered what was up with your brother's No Wave fascination, or give a hoot about Sonic Youth and the scene that spawned them, here's your chance.
The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds - 40th Anniversary: If you've been waiting to find the right time to get familiar with one of the most important pop records of all time, now's your chance. The limited-edition set, which is boosted by a DVD documentary, has four different mixes of the album, plus a photo gallery and suede digipak case. If you want to get even more authentic, look for the double-colored vinyl version, for which just 10,000 pressings are being made.
Motörhead's Kiss of Death vs. John Lithgow's The Sunny Side of the Street: This record probably won't spell doom for one of heavy metal's most enduring acts, as Lemmy and the gang hang tough with "God Was Never on Your Side," "Sucker" and "Devil I Know." Also included as a bonus is a newly recorded version of the band's 1991 punk salute "R.A.M.O.N.E.S.," further cementing Lemmy's affinity for the punk gods. Probably the most polar opposite disc to Kiss of Death is Lithgow's children's album, which immortalizes the actor's take on "Inka Dinka Doo" and "I Always Say Hello to a Flower." It's another bright move, so to speak, from the former "Third Rock From the Sun" castmember.
- Astronautalis - The Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters (Fighting)
- Beenie Man - Undisputed (Virgin)
Buy Now: Undisputed (Virgin)
- Berkeley Guitar - Berkeley Guitar (Tompkins Square)
- Birdmonster - No Midnight (spinART)
- BT - This Binary Universe (with DVD; DTS)
Buy Now: This Binary Universe (DTS)
- Buddhist Monks and Sakya Tashi Ling - My Spirit Flies to You (Decca)
- C-Note - Network'n (BCD Music)
- Tego Calderón - The Underdog/ El Subestimado (Atlantic)
Buy Now: The Underdog/ El Subestimado (Atlantic)
- Channels - Waiting for the Next End of the World (Dischord)
- DJ Crazy Toones - CT Experience (BCD Music)
- Crossfade - Falling Away (Columbia)
Buy Now: Falling Away (Columbia)
- Catie Curtis - Long Night Moon (Compass)
- Blag Dahlia - Nina ... and Other Delights (MVD Audio)
- Damage Case - Tyranny (Punkcore)
- Támar Davis - Milk & Honey (Universal Motown)
Read: "Tamar Davis Missed Joining Destiny's Child — But Then Her Prince Arrived"
Buy Now: Milk & Honey (Universal Motown)
- Paula DeAnda - Paula DeAnda (Arista)
- Dirty Dozen Brass Band - What's Going On (Shout! Factory)
- Sasha Dobson - Modern Romance (Secret Sun)
- DJ Drama - STC Reloaded (BCD Music)
Buy Now: STC Reloaded (BCD Music)
- Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live With the Octavarium Orchestra (three CDs; Rhino)
Buy Now: Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live With the Octavarium Orchestra (Rhino)
- Bob Dylan - Modern Times (deluxe edition with bonus DVD also available; Columbia)
Buy Now: Modern Times (Columbia)
- Jack Frost - Out in the Cold (Warcon)
- Kenny Garrett - Beyond the Wall (Nonesuch)
- Thea Gilmore - Harpo's Ghost (Sanctuary)
- Godhead - The Shadow Line (Cement Shoes)
Buy Now: The Shadow Line (Cement Shoes)
- Grates - Gravity Won't Get You High (Cherry Tree)
Buy Now: Gravity Won't Get You High (Cherry Tree)
- Gwar - Beyond Hell (limited-edition version with DVD also available; DRT)
Buy Now: Beyond Hell (DRT)
- Hatebreed - Supremacy (Roadrunner)
Buy Now: Supremacy (Roadrunner)
- Dave Holland Quintet - Critical Mass (Sunny Side)
- Paul Gilbert - Get Out of My Yard (Shrapnel)
- Jin - 100 Grand Jin (Draft)
Buy Now: 100 Grand Jin (Draft)
- Killa Kyleon and DJ Storm - Drank Epidemic Volume 2 (BCD Music)
- Ray LaMontagne - Till the Sun Turns Black (RCA)
Buy Now: Till the Sun Turns Black (RCA)
- Pop Levi - Blue Honey (Counter)
- John Lithgow - The Sunny Side of the Street (Razor & Tie)
- Locked in a Vacancy - Its Always Darkest ... (Purity)
- Lonesome Spurs - Lonesome Spurs (Cleopatra)
- Loon - No Friends (Cleopatra)
- Lost Trailers - The Lost Trailers (BNA)
- Ludacris and DJ Storm - Disturbing Tha Peace (two CDs; BCD Music)
Buy Now: Disturbing Tha Peace (BCD Music)
- Method Man - 4:21 ... The Day After (Def Jam)
Read: "Method Man Drops Diddy, Seeks Clarity On New LP, 4:21 ... The Day After"
- Elizabeth Mitchell - You Are My Little Bird (Smithsonian Folkways)
- Sam Moore - Overnight Sensational (Rhino)
- Motörhead - Kiss of Death (Sanctuary)
Buy Now: Kiss of Death (Sanctuary)
- Old Crow Medicine School - Big Iron World (Nettwerk)
- Stacie Orrico - Beautiful Awakening (Virgin)
Buy Now: Beautiful Awakening (Virgin)
- Persephone's Bees - Notes From the Underworld (Columbia)
- Prids - ... Until the World Is Beautiful (Five03)
- Randies - Saw the Light (Elicit/ Majestic)
- Red Umbrella - Wishing for Boardwalk (7spin)
- Roots - Game Theory (Def Jam)
Buy Now: Game Theory (Def Jam)
- Salvador - Dismiss the Misery (Word)
- Jessica Simpson - A Public Affair (Epic)
Read: "Jessica Simpson Album Shifts Gears Along With Personal Life"
Buy Now: A Public Affair (Epic)
- Snakes & Music - Isabelle (MVD Audio)
- Sound of the Blue Heart - Beauty? (Triple X)
- DJ Starscream - The New Leader (N2O)
- Stefy - The Orange Album (Wind-Up)
- Tanya Stephens - Rebelution (with bonus DVD; VP/Universal)
- The Summer Obsession - This Is Where You Belong (Virgin)
- Ty Tabor - Rock Garden (Inside Out)
- Theater Fire - Everybody Has a Dark Side (Undeniable)
- Too Short - Blow the Whistle (Jive)
Buy Now: Blow the Whistle (Jive)
- The Tyde - Three's Co. (Rough Trade)
- Uptown - Bonafide G (BCD Music)
- Pete Yorn - Nightcrawler (Red Ink)
Read: "Dave Grohl Helps Pete Yorn Rock, Tupac Inspires Him To Be Prolific"
Buy Now: Nightcrawler (Red Ink)
- Young Dro - Best Thang Smokin' (Atlantic)
Buy Now: Best Thang Smokin' (Atlantic)
- M. Ward - Post-War (Merge)
Buy Now: Post-War (Merge)
- William Elliott Whitmore - Song of the Blackbird (Southern)
- Young Buck and DJ Drama - Case Dismissed (two CDs; BCD Music)
Buy Now: Case Dismissed (BCD Music)
- Various artists - A Piano Tribute to Lionel Richie (Copycats)
- Various artists - A Sax Tribute to Christina Aguilera (Copycats)
- Various artists - A Smooth Jazz Tribute to Beyoncé (Copycats)
- Various artists - Rockabye Baby!: Lullabye Renditions of Coldplay (Baby Rock)
- Various artists - Rockabye Baby!: Lullabye Renditions of Metallica (Baby Rock)
- Various artists - Rockabye Baby!: Lullabye Renditions of Radiohead (Baby Rock)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
- Bernard Allison - No Mercy (MVD Audio)
- America - Struttin' Our Stuff (MVD Audio)
- Beach Boys - Pet Sounds - 40th Anniversary (limited-edition fuzzy package with DVD; Capitol)
- Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart in San Francisco, MTV Unplugged, Perfectly Frank, Tony Bennett's Greatest Hits of the '50s and Tony Bennett's Greatest Hits of the '60s (RPM/ Columbia/ Legacy)
- Terri Clark - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- Billy Cobham - Live: Flight Time (MVD Audio)
- Roger Daltrey - Daltrey, One of the Boys and Ride a Rock Horse (Hip-O)
- Sammy Davis Jr. - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- Steve Earle - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- Humble Pie - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- James Hunter - ... Believe What I Say (Hepcat)
- Julio Iglesias - 1100 Bel Air Place and Tango (Columbia/ Legacy)
- Millie Jackson - Still Caught Up (Southbound)
- Waylon Jennings - Waylon Jennings Sings Hank Williams (Hip-O)
- Daniel Johnston - Continued Story/ Hi, How Are You and Yip/ Jump Music (High Wire)
- Tom Jones - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- Kingston Trio - The Essential Kingston Trio (two CDs; Shout! Factory)
- Leah Kunkel - Leah Kunkel (Rev-Ola)
- Shelby Lynne - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- Kawabata Makoto & the Mothers of Invasion - Hot Rattlesnakes (MVD Audio)
- Marillion - Marbles Live (MVD Audio)
- Dave Mason - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- Kathy Mattea - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- Rudy Ray Moore - The Best of Rudy Ray Moore and Friends (The Pen)
- Iggy Pop - 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection (A&M)
Buy Now: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection (A&M)
- Primitives - Buzz Buzz Buzz (United States Distributors)
- Queensrÿche - Q2K (Rhino)
Buy Now: Q2K (Rhino)
- Diana Ross - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- Stereolab - Serene Velocity: A Stereolab Anthology (Rhino)
- Pete Townshend - Another Scoop, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, Deep End Live!, Empty Glass, The Iron Man the Musical by Pete Townshend, Psychoderelict, Rough Mix, Scoop, Scoop 3, White City and Who Came First (Hip-O)
- Tanya Tucker - Definitive Collection (Hip-O)
- Waterboys - Fisherman's Blues - Collectors Edition (limited edition with bonus CD; Capitol)
- Bob Willis & His Texas Playboys - Legends of Country Music: Bob Willis & His Texas Playboys (three CDs; Columbia/ Legacy)
- Various artists - Chill Lounge (Water)
- Various artists - Dave Hamilton's Detroit Funk: Rare and Unreleased Twisted Funk 1967-1973 (BGP)
- Various artists - The Greatest Songs Ever: Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, France, Greece, Gypsyland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Portugal, Middle East, Spain and Turkey (Petrol/ EMI America)
- Various artists - Highway South: Southern Rock (Time Life)
- Various artists - UFC: Ultimate Beatdowns, Vol. 1 (enhanced; Nitrus)
- Black Crowes - "Who Killed That Bird Out on Your Window Sill ... the Movie" (Rhino)
- Roger Chapman - "Family & Friends" (MVD Visual)
- Sandy Denny - "Under Review" (MVD Visual)
- Dream Theater - "Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live With the Octavarium Orchestra" (two DVDs; Rhino)
- Bob Dylan - "Bob Dylan 1966 - 1978: After the Crash" (MVD Visual)
- E-40 - "E-40 & the Hype on Hyphy: Town Bizness From the Yay" (Warner Bros.)
- Ian Gillan Band - "Live at the Rainbow 1977" (MVD Visual)
- Green on Red - "Valley Fever: Green on Red" (MVD Visual)
- The Korgis - "The Korgis DVD Kollection" (MVD Visual)
- Queen - "Under Review: 1980-1991" (MVD Visual)
- Barbra Streisand - "A Happening in Central Park" and "Barbra Streisand ... And Other Musical Instruments" (Rhino)
- Pete Townshend - "Psychoderelict Live in New York" (Hip-0)
- Various artists - "Jazz Shots From the West Coast, Vol. 1" (MVD Visual)
- Various artists - "Kill Your Idols" (Palm Pictures)
- Various artists - "Roots Daughters: The Women of Rastafari" (MVD Visual)
- Audioslave - Revelations (Epic)
Read: "New Audioslave LP: 'Led Zeppelin Meets Earth, Wind & Fire' "
Preorder: Revelations (Epic)
- Beyoncé - B'Day (Columbia)
Read: "Beyonce's Triple Threat: New Album, Film, Fashion Line Before Year's End"
Preorder: B'Day (Columbia)
- Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death (limited edition with bonus DVD also available; Sanctuary)
Preorder: A Matter of Life and Death (Sanctuary)
- John Mayer - Continuum (Columbia)
Preorder: Continuum (Columbia)
- N.O.R.E. y la Familia - Ya Tú Sabe (Roc-A-Fella)
- Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive)
Read: "Justin Previews New Tracks At Hollywood Show With Help From Will.I.Am, Timbaland"
Preorder: FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive)
- Clay Aiken - A Thousand Different Ways (RCA)
Preorder: A Thousand Different Ways (RCA)
- Fergie - The Dutchess (Interscope)
Read: "Fergie's Split-Pea Soup: Reggae, Jazz, Ludacris, B Real On 'Crazy' Solo LP"
Preorder: The Dutchess (Interscope)
- Jesse McCartney - Right Where You Want Me (Hollywood)
Read: "In September, Get Jesse McCartney Right Where You Want Him"
Preorder: Right Where You Want Me (Hollywood)