Onslaught Of New Albums Looms On 'Super Tuesday'

Industry has high expectations for next week's rash of releases by such major artists as Ice Cube, Whitney Houston and Garth Brooks.

The elves have been busy, and evidence of their work will take music fans and retailers

by storm Tuesday. In fact, so many major artists are releasing new albums that day,

industry insiders are dubbing it "Super Tuesday."

Those artists include: rappers Ice Cube, Geto Boys and Method Man; R&B singers Seal

and Whitney Houston; the ska-band Sublime; folkie Jewel; alt-rockers Offspring;

country-superstar Garth Brooks, who will issue a two-disc live set; and pop-diva Mariah

Carey, offering a greatest-hits album.

Also to be released that day will be a combination rarities collection and home video

from rappers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and three different "Prince of Egypt" soundtracks.

All that will add up to making Tuesday the day the most new releases by high-profile acts

ever will have been offered in the music industry.

Aside from the sheer number of releases, there are sky-high expectations accompanying

them.

If sales go as expected, retailers could shatter the sales record set the week before

Christmas 1995, when the popularity of the Beatles' Anthology Vol. 1 helped push

total one-week sales to almost 41 million units.

"I think it's going to be a great holiday season," said Rich Zubrod, manager of the Virgin

Megastore in New York City's Times Square.

"There's definitely going to be competition as far as what's going to sell," Zubrod added.

"Major artists are coming out against each other like crazy, but the thing of it is, if you're a

true fan, you're going to want to get one of each."

"There certainly hasn't been anything like it this year," concurred Brad Stern, assistant

manager of Harmony House in Birmingham, Mich. "I've been in record sales for four

years and next Tuesday certainly stands out."

Stern was quick to add, however, that the end of the year always brings a flood of box

sets, greatest-hits collections and live albums that look fantastic when their wrapping

paper and bow are removed.

This time around, Garth Brooks' Double Live is the favorite to come out ahead of

the pack.

The album will feature new cover art and liner notes for each million copies sold in the

United States, with the first million shipped in North America bearing stickers indicating

they're first editions.

On Monday, Brooks will appear on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," followed by a

special concert Tuesday broadcast to Wal-Mart stores, where customers who laid down

a deposit are guaranteed a copy of the first edition.

Brooks will follow that novel marketing technique with a series of television appearances

throughout December.

With Brooks going all those extra miles to promote his album, there's speculation he'll

break not only the Beastie Boys' one-week sales-record for the year (681,570 units, for

Hello Nasty), but that he also will break the all-time one-week sales record,

currently held by Pearl Jam's Vs., which moved 950,378 in its first week out in

1993.

While Brooks is going all-out to push his product, other artists with albums coming out

Tuesday are taking a more laid-back approach, preferring to appear confident that fans

eventually will pick up on their music, even if not in the first week of release.

"Any date you pick from October on there's going to be something big coming out --

either Alanis Morissette or something," Offspring singer Dexter Holland, 32, said of the

thick competition facing his band's Americana, with its single

href="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-

music/Offspring,_The/Pretty_Fly,_For_A_White_Guy.ram">"Pretty Fly for a White

Guy" (RealAudio excerpt). "And one of those unknown hip-hop guys will come

along and beat everybody, sell 700,000 or something."

"The kids have only got so much money," Geto Boys member Willie D (born Willie

Dennis), 32, reasoned, "and if they haven't got enough money to get it the first week,

they'll come around after the weekend and get it the next week."

Of the risk of getting lost in the shuffle, Willie D added, "Of course, it enters your mind, but

the fans are going to buy what they like."

Willie D also said he thought retailers' listening stations would help consumers decide

where to plunk down their cash.

"You can't fool people no more with those listening stations," he said.

"Not that I ever tried to fool anybody, but some people put out an album that has one

good song and the rest of it is just garbage. People can go to these listening stations

now and hear it before they buy it so they don't have to waste their time returning it."

For some, though, no amount of marketing muscle would be enough to get them to join

the Super Tuesday fray.

Reprise Records president Howie Klein, for example, was happy not to have

something coming out Tuesday.

"Do you think that there's a coincidence that we're not?" Klein replied when asked why

no Reprise artists had releases scheduled that day. "I don't think it's a good time to

release a record."

So, is the rush of Super Tuesday releases simply overwhelming? Is too much product

competing for a finite amount of money?

According to Stern and other retail managers, consumer interest in Tuesday's releases

has been at a fever pitch.

"If people want it, they'll do what they need to do to get their hands on it," Stern said.

"There's no worries about that."