- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 2, 2000

August usually represents the dog days of summer for CD buyers — the period when record companies hold back most of their big-name releases for a time closer to the lucrative pre-Christmas season.

You could tell this August's drought was even worse than usual when reviewers could find nothing more interesting to analyze than "The Nutty Professor II" soundtrack.

Fortunately, the musical famine is about to turn into a feast. September offers a cornucopia of notable new albums. There's a little bit of something for just about everyone, including fresh sounds from Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Emmylou Harris, John Hiatt, Bjork, Limp Bizkit and more.

Following are details. Just keep in mind that titles and dates are subject to change.

Madonna, who gave birth to her second child (a boy named Rocco) Aug. 11, follows up that production with the release of her album "Music" on Sept. 19. "Music" apparently will differ dramatically from the singer's last CD, the atmospheric, contemplative "Ray of Light." That 1998 album was made, the singer told Billboard, when she was "making lots of discoveries and going through lots of changes. It was an introspective, questioning time." Afterward, though, she "felt like I needed to explode… . I felt like dancing, and that's reflected in these songs."

What "Music" will have in common with "Ray of Light" is the continued use of electronica-style backing and Madonna's collaboration with William Orbit, though only on three tracks this time. The tempos will be faster and the energy up, however. The other producers, writers and mixers who have worked with the star on "Music" include Guy Sigsworth, Talvin Singh, Hex Hector, Victor Calderone and hot new French dance-music mixer Mirwais.

Younger pop diva Miss Aguilera, winner of the latest Grammy for best new artist, will release her first album sung entirely in Spanish. This follow-up to last year's self-titled debut album, which has sold more than 10 million copies, will be called "Mi Reflejo" ("My Reflection"). The Rudy Perez-produced CD will blend new songs with Spanish versions of tracks from last year's album, including her current single, "I Turn to You," renamed "Por Siempre Tu."

In a completely different style of music, Mr. Nelson's upcoming album, "Milk Cow Blues" (due Sept. 19), finds the country artist singing an entire CD of blues numbers. He is joined by old-timers B.B. King, Dr. John and Francine Reed, as well as several young performers, including Keb' Mo', Susan Tedeschi and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

Mr. Hiatt, another veteran country-folk singer-songwriter who is familiar with the blues, will release his new CD, "Crossing Muddy Waters," on Sept. 26. The album won't be all blues, but it will be Mr. Hiatt's first all-acoustic collection. Among the backing musicians are guitarist-mandolinist David Immergluck and bassist Davey Faragher.

Mr. Hiatt has received fresh attention because Eric Clapton and Mr. King used his "Riding With the King" as the title tune of their recent collaborative album.

Mr. Simon will try to patch things up with fans who were disappointed with his last albums — 1997's "Songs From the Capeman" and 1990's "Rhythm of the Saints" — when he releases his new album, "You're the One," on Sept. 26. Featuring the songs "That's Where I Belong," "Old," "Senorita With a Necklace of Tears" and "Pigs, Sheep and Wolves," the CD highlights a lot of electric guitar (from both Mr. Simon and Vincent Nguini) but little or no keyboards or horns.

Icelandic singer Bjork's "Selmasongs," due Sept. 19, will consist mainly of tracks recorded for her film-acting debut in the upcoming movie "Dancer in the Dark." Included will be a duet with Radiohead's Thomas Yorke, "I've Seen It All."

That defunct Seattle band with the long name — the Presidents of the United States of America — has re-formed (thankfully, as simply the Presidents) and made a new album, "Freaked Out and Small," due Sept. 12. Even when out of action, the trio has been heard almost every week performing the theme song of ABC's "The Drew Carey Show," "Cleveland Rocks."

Another group with a goofy name, the Barenaked Ladies, offers its new album, "Maroon," on the same day. One song from the CD, "Pinch Me," can be heard in the VH1 movie "At Any Cost."

Miss Harris wrote 11 of the 12 songs on "Red Dirt Girl" (Sept. 12), the most she has composed since 1985's "The Ballad of Sally Rose." The 12th song is a version of Patty Griffin's "One Big Love." Among the lineup of guest artists are Dave Matthews, Kate McGarrigle and Jill Cunniff, as well as Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, who sing backing vocals on "Tragedy."

Also coming on Sept. 12: Loretta Lynn's "Still Woman Enough"; Rickie Lee Jones' "It's Like This"; the Tom Tom Club's first album in eight years, "The Good, the Bad and the Funky"; Too Short's "You Nasty"; Underworld's live "Everything, Everything"; and Irish group the Corrs' "In Blue."

Sept. 19: Female singer Poe's first album in five years, "Haunted."

Sept. 26: Metal-rap masters Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water," ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash's "Ain't Life Grand," ex-Police guitarist Andy Summers' "Peggy's Blue Skylight," the Allman Brothers Band's live "Peakin' at the Beacon," former Jane's Addiction leader Perry Farrell's "The Diamond Jubilee" and Carla Olson's "Ring of Truth."

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