New Releases: Unwritten Law Vs. Carly Simon & More

Also due Tuesday: Elvis Presley, L Tunes: Music From and Inspired by 'The L Word.'

Don't be surprised by the lack of new albums hitting stores this week. Yeah, CD sales have been dipping pretty low these days, but what's happening here is nothing more than a result of late-night New Year's Eve soirees, the post office kicking back for a few days and record labels hibernating for another week or so.

That leaves us with an Unwritten Law greatest-hits collection, a new Carly Simon album, the soundtrack to "The L Word" and an Elvis Presley compilation — or, as far as you're probably concerned, just an Unwritten Law greatest-hits collection.

Luckily for you readers, there's a bit of a story behind the Law's self-devised set, The Hit List. See, apparently the 17-year-old band was in the process of putting together its own best-of comp when Interscope slapped together the skimpy 20th Century Masters: The Best of Unwritten Law - The Millennium Collection and dropped it in mid-October.

But while the Law sounded off on their Web site about what they consider to be a sub-par comp, the reality bites: They don't own the masters to all their own material. So they've resorted to a different approach — one previously taken by Night Ranger, Cyndi Lauper and Cracker — and re-recorded choice tracks for what they're calling their "authorized" best-of CD.

"We've been in the studio most of the year re-recording all of the old songs so that they are new again," the band said in a post on its Web site. "We've delayed this album a couple of times already 'cos we just wanted to get it right. The old songs are completely re-recorded and rearranged and they rock like you've never heard them before — like the way that the band has grown since the Oz Factor days."

Besting the 12-track Millennium Collection, The Hit List collects 19 cuts. While the former has "Holiday," "Before I Go," "Mean Girl" and "Geronimo," the latter skips those tracks and swaps in "Shoulda Known Better" (the band's new single), "C.P.K.," "Superman," "Shallow," "Rescue Me," "Rest of My Life," "Blame It on Me," "Save Me," "She Says," "Celebration Song" and "Oblivion."

The Law's biggest competition this week comes in the form of one of your mom's favorite artists: Carly Simon. The ever-grinning, 61-year-old New Yorker covered standards the last time around, on 2005's Moonlight Serenade, and for this occasion she's taking a similar approach by revisiting folk and pop classics, as well as lullabies. Yes, lullabies.

Produced by Simon and Jimmy Parr — who engineered 2004's Reflections: Carly Simon's Greatest HitsInto the White finds the singer tackling songs made famous by the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Stephen Foster and James Taylor. She gets assists from singers Teese Gohl, Peter Calo, Jan Hyer and David Saw — and for your narcotic listening pleasure, tosses in "Over the Rainbow," "You Are My Sunshine" and "Oh! Susanna."

So in other words, beware. This ain't no "American Idol" picnic. As Simon (no, not Cowell — we're talking Carly here) says in a post on her Web site: "This is very much an album for grownups, as well as children. The album is very, very soothing ... it doesn't startle you. It just does nice things to you."

And that's about all, folks. Check back next week when the year really gets started with new ones from Mos Def and Mario.

Song Title of the Week:

"Dating My Frankenstein" from Ryan Parmenter's The Noble Knave

New Releases:

· Robert Tabby Crabb - Three Ducks on a Pond (Musark)

· Rob Kendt - I'm Not Sentimental (Ruby)

· Ryan Parmenter - The Noble Knave (Split Difference)

· Jane Pickens - Music in the Air (Sepia)

· André Rieu - Romantic Moments With André Rieu (Laserlight)

· Carly Simon - Into the White (Columbia) [Buy Now]

· Windstorm - Snapshots of Life (Windstorm)

· Wonder - Welcome to Wonderland (Dump Valve)

· Various artists - L Tunes: Music From and Inspired by "The L Word" (Columbia/ Music With a Twist)

Notable Reissues and Archival Material:

· Angelica - Angelica (Atlantic)

· Elvis Presley - The Essential Elvis Presley (Sony BMG)

· Unwritten Law - The Hit List (Rocket Science) [Buy Now]

· Various artists - Country Heartbreak (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Crooners: Be My Love (Madacy)

· Various artists - Crooners: Love Story (Madacy)

· Various artists - Crooners: Some Enchanted Evening (Madacy)

· Various artists - Crooners: Unforgettable (Madacy)

· Various artists - Essential Love (Madacy)

· Various artists - Highway Fever: All-Time Greatest Country Road Songs (American Beat)

· Various artists - I Love Paris: Sensuous French Classics (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Incurable Romantic: Piano Music for Lovers (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Kings of Country: Love Songs (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Latin for Lovers (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Power Ballads (Madacy)

· Various artists - Queens of Country: Love Songs (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Romantic Jazz: Music for Lovers (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Romantic Moments of the 70s and 80s (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Sensuous Saxophone: Music for Lovers (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Simply Romantic: Guitar Music for Lovers (Laserlight)

· Various artists - The Best of Body and Soul (Madacy)

· Various artists - The Romantic 60s (Laserlight)

· Various artists - Torch Singers: Sirens of Song (Laserlight)

Music DVDs:

· Various artists - "Gotta Have Gospel! Gold: The World's Top Gospel Artists and Songs" (Gospocentric)

Coming Attractions:

January 9:

· Green Day - 1,039/ Smoothed Out Slappy Hours (enhanced; Reprise) [Preorder] and Kerplunk (Reprise)

· Mario - Go! (J) [Preorder]

Read: "On-The-Go! Mario Changes LP Title, Reaches Out To Disadvantaged Kids"

· Mos Def - Tru3 Magic (Geffen) [Preorder]

January 16:

· America - Here & Now (Burgundy)

· The Smithereens - Meet the Smithereens! (Koch) [Preorder]

· Various artists - "Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls" soundtrack (Atlantic)

January 23:

· Clinic - Visitations (bonus track; Domino) [Preorder]

· Dustin Kensrue - Please Come Home (digipak due same day; Equal Vision)

· Madonna - "Confessions Tour" DVD (Warner Bros.) [Preorder]