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New Releases, Oct. 2: Elton John, Ja Rule, Garbage
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"Songs from the West Coast" (Rocket/Universal)
John's latest has been described by the artist himself as being made in the spirit of "Tumbleweed Connection" and "Captain Fantastic," two albums that are widely considered to be among his best. "Songs from the West Coast" is John's first studio album since 1997's "The Big Picture."
"Really the album is just piano, guitar, bass and drums with a couple of people playing the organ, Billy Preston and Pat Leonard," John said in a feature posted on his official website. "There is hardly any synthesizer at all."
The site also features comments from John's longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, downloadable tracks, photos and other features.
"I Want Love," the first single from the album, currently sits at No. 11 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary charts. The video for the song features actor Robert Downey Jr.
Patrick Leonard, who first worked with John on the soundtrack to the film "The Road to El Dorado" in 1999, produced "Songs from the West Coast." Among the guest performers on the album are Stevie Wonder, who lends a harmonica solo to the track "Dark Diamond," and Rufus Wainwright, who sings harmony on "American Triangle."
John recently opened a brief series of North American tour dates.
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"Pain Is Love" (Murder Inc./Def Jam)
Ja Rule's latest is the rapper's third album in as many years, and is the follow-up to last year's "Rule 3:36," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. "Livin' It Up," the first single from "Pain Is Love," sits at No. 9 on Billboard's latest Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart. Occupying the top spot on several other singles charts, meanwhile, is a remixed version of the Jennifer Lopez track "I'm Real," on which Ja Rule appears.
"Pain Is Love" features guest appearances from Cadillac Tah, Black Child, Charlie Baltimore and Missy Elliott. It also includes a remake of 2Pac's "So Much Pain," according to Murder Inc. Records.
Ja Rule has been nominated for Artist of the Year and Single of the Year ("Put It on Me") at this year's Radio Music Awards. The show will air live from Las Vegas on Oct. 26 on ABC.
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Garbage follows up 1999's "Version 2.0" with this 13-track collection that was written and produced by the band, three of whose members--Butch Vig, Duke Ericson and Steve Marker--were producers before finding success as performers. (Vig made a name for himself by producing Nirvana's "Nevermind.")
The group took its time making the new album, according to liner notes; all of the material was written and recorded at a Madison, Wisc., studio between April 2000 and May 2001.
Garbage first rose to prominence with its 1995 self-titled release, which spawned the hits "Queer," "Only Happy When It Rains" and "Stupid Girl," and which has been certified double-platinum.
The group will initially support "Beautifulgarbage" with a round of support dates on U2's upcoming North American tour.
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"Lady Day: The Complete Billy Holiday on Columbia (1933-1944)" (Sony/Legacy)
"Lady Day: Best of Billie Holiday" (Sony/Legacy)
This box set contains the entire Columbia Records catalog of one of jazz's greatest vocalists. Numbers best describe the project's scope: 11-years worth of recordings on 10 CDs that house a total of 230 tracks, 36 of which have never been released in the U.S., all remastered with 24-bit technology.
The collection is Columbia's latest multi-disc "complete" box; previous boxes have compiled Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong's Hot Five & Hot Seven recordings, and various stages of the careers of Miles Davis and Bessie Smith.
Due out the same day as the box set is a two-CD, best-of-Holiday collection that includes tracks such as "Summertime," "Body and Soul," "Night and Day."
Interestingly, Holiday's signature tune, "Strange Fruit," is not present on either collection, because she never recorded it for Columbia.
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"The Grand Pecking Order" (Elektra)
Oysterhead was born when Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, Primus bassist Les Claypool and percussionist Stewart Copeland (formerly of the Police) came together at 2000's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and delivered a very well-received, jam-oriented performance.
The band recorded and self-produced "The Grand Pecking Order" last April and May. The first single, "Mr. Oysterhead," is available for downloading at Oysterhead's official website. The song features Claypool's distinctive nasal vocals, and musically brings to mind a less-rough Primus.
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"Perpetual Motion" (Sony Classics)
Banjo player Bela Fleck's latest is an album featuring bluegrass-inspired translations of 20 familiar classical compositions by Bach, Chopin and Tchaikovsky, among others. The album is the first of two that Fleck has planned for Sony Classical; the record label, in the past few years, has released several recordings of classical music infused with country music, including work by fiddler Mark O'Connor and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Last year, Fleck and his regular band, the fusion-oriented Flecktones, made their debut on Columbia--Sony Classical's sibling pop label--with the album "Outbound." That album foreshadowed "Perpetual Motion" with a version of a classical piece by the late American composer Aaron Copland.
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"Fantasies & Delusions: Music for Solo Piano" (Columbia)
The Long Island pop star pre-empts critics with the title of his first-ever collection of original classical work, "Fantasies & Delusions, Op. 1-10." The album contains 13 pieces from the man who wrote "Root Beer Rag."
Note: the compositions are by Joel, but the performances on the CD are by pianist Richard Joo.
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Other new releases:
Dan Ackerman - "This Moment Has Happened Before" (Orchard)
Adam and the Ants - "Live at the BBC" (Fuel 2000)
Gary Allan - "Alright Guy" (MCA Nashville)
Amy Annelle - "School of Secret Dangers" (Hush)
Atombombpocketknife - "God Save the Abpk (Southern)
David Ball - "Amigo" (Dualtone)
Big Country - "Greatest 12 Inch Hits" (Cleopatra)
The Birthday Party - "John Peel Sessions (BBC)" (Fuel 2000)
Bobby Boyd - "Honky Tonk Tree" (Boydroom)
Champagne Kiss - "Daring in the Pockets of Theives" (Troubleman)
Chimaira - "Pass Out of Existence" (Roadrunner)
Julian Cope - "Best of the BBC Sessions" (Fuel 2000)
Dead Tight Five - "Blemish" (Orchard)
Default - "Fallout" (TVT)
Diamonds & Rust - "Bitterskin" (Orchard)
Dinosaur Jr. - "Ear-Bleeding Country: Best of Dinosaur Jr." (Rhino)
D.R.I. - "Dirty Rotten Imbeciles" (Cleopatra)
DJ Cam - "Honeymoon" (Chronowax)
DJ Irene - "Vol. 2--Global House Diva" box set (Strictly Hype)
Donovan - "1986--Greatest Hits Live Vancouver" (Varese Sarabande)
Ebony Tears - "Evil as Hell" (Caroline)
Erase Errata - "Other Animals" (Troubleman)
Danny Federici - "Danny Federici" (Hip-O)
Four Tet - "Pause" (Domino)
Vincent Gallo - "When" (Warp)
Goblins - "Missing Fits" (My Pal God)
Godgory - "Way Beyond" (Nuclear Blast)
Graham Central Station - "Jam-Larry Graham & Graham Central Station" (Rhino)
Pat Haney - "Ghost of Things to Come" (Freefalls Entertainment)
James William Hindle - "James William Hindle (Badman)
House of Love - "John Peel Sessions 1988-89 (BBC)" (Fuel 2000)
Idaho - "Levitate" (Idaho)
Millie Jackson - "Millie Jackson Essentials" (Ryko)
Billy Joel - "Essential Billy Joel" remastered (Columbia)
George Jones - "The Rock: Stone Cold Country 2001" (BNA)
Kilo - "Get This Party Started" (Ryko)
Knuckledust - "Time Won't Heal This" (Thorp)
Les Savy Fav - "Go Forth" (French Kiss)
Travis Linville & Burtschi Bro - "Uncertain Texas" (Orchard)
Locust - "Flight of The Wounded Locust" (Gold Standard Laboratories)
Machine Head - "Supercharger" (Roadrunner)
Mad for the Racket - "Racketeers" (Muscle Tone)
Moto-Litas - "For Greater Good" (Daemon)
Mr. Complex - "Hold This Down" (Seven Heads)
Michael Martin Murphy - "Ultimate Collection" (Hip-O)
Negativland - "These Guys Are from England" (Seeland)
Now Its Overhead - "Now It's Overhead" (Saddle Creek)
Old School Players - "Old School Booty" (DM)
Orange Alabaster Mushroom - "Space & Time: A Compendium" (Hidden Agenda)
Overcome - "More Than Death" (Nail)
Pressure 4-5 - "Burning the Process" (DreamWorks)
Push Button Objects - "Three Sixty Degrees Remixes" (Chocolate)
R.A.P. - "Vol. 1-Rhythm & Poetry" (Big Whale)
Rabies Caste - "Let Soul Out & Cut the Vein" (Earache)
Red Monkey - "Gunpowder Treason and Plot" (Troubleman)
Rembrandts - "Lost Together" (J Bird)
Scar Culture - "Inscribe" (Caroline)
Shagalag - "Hard to Say Not Knowing" (Orchard)
Something Corporate - "Audio Boxer" EP (Drive Thru)
Frankie Sparo - "Arena Hostile" (Constellation)
Spazztic Blurr - "Spazztic Blurr" (Earache)
Joe Stampley - "Somewhere Under the Rainbow" (Critter)
Striking Distance - "March to Your Grave" (Thorp)
Swans - "Soundtracks for the Blind" (Young God)
Tanya Tucker - "Tanya Tucker Country Classics" (EMI)
Testify - "Triviality Beyond Acceptance" (Sin-Drome)
Third Faze - "3rd Faze" (Edel America)
Third Tyme Out - "Live at the Mac II" (Rounder)
Tina & Total Babes - "She's So Tuff" (Sympathy for the Record Industry)
Unknown Soldiers - "Streets Ain't No Joke" (Orchard)
Unseen Terror - "Human Error" (Earache)
Various artists - "A History of Garage and Frat Bands in Memphis 1960-75" (Shangri-la)
Various artists - "Blue Trail Of Sorrow" (Rounder)
Various artists - "Bomb Anniversary Collection" (Bomb Hip-Hop)
Various artists - "Bully" (OCF)
Various artists - "Vol. 1-Unwrapped" (Epic)
Various artists - "Northern Side Of Philly Soul" (Guyden)
Various artists - "Say It Loud: Black Music In America" (Rhino)
Various artists - "Serendipity" soundtrack (Columbia)
Various artists - "Vol. 2-Team Mint" (Mint)
Various artists - "Vol. 2-Then: Totally Oldies" (Varese Sarabande)
Various artists - "This Is Your Country" (UTV)
Various artists - "Tribute to Creedence Clearwater" (Big Eye)
Various artists - "Tribute to Fleetwood Mac" (Big Eye)
Various artists - "Tribute to The Eagles" (Big Eye)
Various artists - "Tribute to U2" (Big Eye)
Various artists - "Wish You Were Here 2001" (Big Eye)
Various artists - "You Will Be Rocked" (Rhino)
Voices on the Verge - "Live in Philadelphia" (Ryko)
Victim's Family - "Apocalicious" (Alternative Tentacles)
Warlocks - "Rise & Fall" (Bomp)
Winger - "Very Best of Winger" (Rhino)
Yacopsae - "Einstweilige Vernichtung" (Slap a Ham)
Dwight Yoakam - "South of Heaven, West of Hell" soundtrack (Warner Bros.)
Compiled by Jon Zahlaway with Marc Weidenbaum, James Woster and Rob Evans.