For their hard-core under-18 fans, of course, the Backstreet Boys are all that, and a bag of chips and free soda to boot. Millennium, the follow-up to the quintet's umpteen-million-selling debut, offers more reasons why so many of the rest of us have found a place for them in our hearts. The Boys' ultrapackaged look and up-to-date production underscore the quality of their best tracks; only a churl could deny that "I Want It That Way" is one fine radio-aimed declaration of love, or that "Larger Than Life" makes the most of its Daft Punk sample and double-edged acknowledgment of Backstreet followers' loyalty. And who can resist an album-closer like "The Perfect Fan," Brian Littrell's ode to his mom? --Rickey Wright For their hard-core under-18 fans, of course, the Backstreet Boys are all that, and a bag of chips and free soda to boot. Millennium, the follow-up to the quintet's umpteen-million-selling debut, offers more reasons why so many of the rest of us have found a place for them in our hearts. The Boys' ultrapackaged look and up-to-date production underscore the quality of their best tracks; only a churl could deny that "I Want It That Way" is one fine radio-aimed declaration of love, or that "Larger Than Life" makes the most of its Daft Punk sample and double-edged acknowledgment of Backstreet followers' loyalty. And who can resist an album-closer like "The Perfect Fan," Brian Littrell's ode to his mom? --Rickey Wright
This is the debut album from American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. Includes the #1 smash hit 'Inside Your Heaven' and the soon to be hit 'Jesus Take The Wheel' and much more. Arista. 2005. Would American Idol winner Carrie Underwood have landed a major-label recording contract without winning the hugely popular television contest? Probably. The big-voiced Oklahoman has the pipes, the look, the pedigree, and, most important, the emotional resonance to sustain a professional career. As an investment in her future, her label eschewed the easy path in putting out an album to take advantage of her publicity, going for a name producer, Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Lonestar), to handle half the tracks. It also solicited material from the same top songwriters (Diane Warren, Brett James, Troy Verges, Rivers Rutherford) who stock albums by Hill, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, and Wynonna. "Jesus, Take the Wheel," the hit first single, shows off the best of Underwood's power vocals, while the sexy rocker "We're Young and Beautiful" pulls her out of her ballad-heavy comfort zone, and her autobiographical "I Ain't in Checotah Anymore" bolsters her authenticity. If the young performer oversings on occasion (the overwrought bonus track, "Inside Your Heaven"), and settles for too many generic themes, she still surprises in her ability to go head-to-head with countryâ€™s reigning females. Will Underwood really survive to be a contender for the Martina throne? Let's just say that American Idol judges and voters picked the right contestant. If the posturing Bo Bice had won, rock stars would hardly be quaking in their boots. --Alanna Nash More American Idol Winners Breakaway, Kelly Clarkson I Need an Angel, Ruben Studdard Free Yourself, Fantasia Barrino
33 career-spanning hits and album favorites on 2 CDs. Includes Take It Easy; Witchy Woman; Peaceful Easy Feeling; Desperado; Already Gone; James Dean; The Best of My Love; Lyin' Eyes; One of These Nights; Take It to the Limit; Hotel California; Life in the Fast Lane , and more. Unbeatable! This packed double-disc is the slim option for fans who find the Eagles' vaunted greatest hits sets too little and the boxed set too hefty. Hit singles large and medium are here, often ("One of These Nights," "Hotel California") still sounding definitive and even tough. Large helpings of favorite album cuts are also included, along with a taster from a promised 2004 Eagles studio reunion. Unfortunately, "Hole in the World," Don Henley's response to September 11, feels just as empty and entitled as "Get Over It," the band's previous state-of-the-union message (from which the newer song represents a philosophical 180-degree turn). But for those seeking an overview of this Southern California juggernaut's successes, as well as telling comments from band members--mostly Henley and Frey--in a well-designed booklet, Very Best will more than do. --Rickey Wright
With Taking the Long Way, the Dixie Chicks are putting themselves out there like never before. For the first time, every song on the album is co-written by the Chicks themselves, exploring themes both deeply private and resoundingly political. Taking the Long Way covers an impressive range of territory and includes the defiant and autobiographical first single "Not Ready to Make Nice" as well as the tracks "Silent House," "It's So Hard When it Doesn't Come Easy," and the album version of the gospel-inflected "I Hope," featuring a blistering guitar solo by John Mayer. Nothing changes folks like babies and war, and since the release of their last album, 2002's Home, the Dixie Chicks have been forever altered by both. If that album showcased the trio as precocious young adults, Taking the Long Way finds them sobered and matured, and in a grown-up state of mind. Produced by the celebrated Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers), who saw the Chicks as "a great rock act making a country album, not a country act making a rock album," their new record impresses both as beautiful sonic tapestry (peppered with myriad Beatlesque hallmarks) and forthright yet vulnerable portrait of three women shaken by the personal and political events of the past few years. As they make clear in the defiant "Not Ready to Make Nice," they still smart over the backlash from their 2003 Bushwhacking. But as they assert on the equally autobiographical "The Long Way Around," they could never "kiss all the asses that they told me to" and just follow others aimlessly--and silently--through life. This means that the Chicks are simultaneously prideful and scornful of celebrity ("Everybody Knows"), and that as new mothers they increasingly treasure the refuge they find in life with their families, out of the spotlight ("Easy Silence," "Lullaby," "Baby Hold On"). The push and pull of both passions drive this record, which also touches on the personal issues of infertility (with which sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison both dealt) and Al...
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
Her now-legendary album Tapestry is a must-have component for any '70s rock era collector. Carole King was famous as a writer of girl-group hits in the '60s. In 1971, she became more famous. That's the year Tapestry became one of the biggest-selling LPs of all time. It's easy to hear why--the music is loose, earthy, L.A. session-pop. King is casual, intimate, and tough; she covers all the emotional ground of the post-liberated woman with ease. She brings adult nuance to "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" and comes up with hits ("It's Too Late," "I Feel the Earth Move") whose white-soul realism and maturity put pop hits to shame. --Steve Tignor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
Michael Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2001 after 3 decades as the most successful solo artist in pop music history. His first studio album in 6 years, "Invincible" includes the hit singles "Rock My World" and "Cry." Includes: - Unbreakable - Heartbreaker - Invincible - Break Of Dawn - Heaven Can Wait - Rock My World - Butterflies - 2000 Watts - Shout - Don't Walk Away - Privacy - Cry - The Lost Children - Speechless - Threatened For such a boldly titled and apparently driven attempt to reinstate Michael Jackson at the center of the pop world, Invincible is a listless thing. Split between scratchy funk workouts and midtempo ballads that might have appeared as Bad B-sides, the album plays on and on while never seriously promoting dancing or romancing. Its handful of weird moments--the resurrection-by-tape of Biggie Smalls on the bridge of the title track, for instance--are hardly large-scale bizarre like the first disc of HIStory. The title track turns out to be hardly the rampant egofest you'd imagine; instead, its subject is a female whom Jackson cheers on. Likewise, the most ear-catching moments of the "comeback" single "You Rock My World" come with Chris Tucker's jivey introduction. Despite a debt to "Payback"-era James Brown, "Rock" floats away like steam midway through. It's almost a relief when the old self-regard turns up: on the growling "Privacy," Jackson rants about muckrakers "stalking" him in search of "the stories you need to bury me," all this long after foundering divas and troubled boy-group members have replaced him on tabloid covers. The man may occasionally break away from the mirror but seems unsure where else to find inspiration. --Rickey Wright
Manufacturer: Blix Street
Brand: Autumn Leaves
Five years after her death at age 33, Eva Cassidy is an international star. Songbird, a platinum-selling smash, reached #1 in England, Ireland, and the U.S. A recent Nightline profile about Eva generated more emails than almost any other program in its history. When you hear this album, you'll know why the Washington Post raved that "she could sing anything...and make it sound like it was the only music that mattered." (43 minutes) Songbird cherry-picks tracks from the three locally released albums of Eva Cassidy, whose hauntingly beautiful vocals went virtually unheard outside her native Washington, D.C., during her short 33 years with us. Lost to melanoma in 1996, Cassidy sang with an unaffected purity and an astonishing ability to make both classic and contemporary songs sound like they were written just for her. Sting's "Fields of Gold" finally lives up to its title through the alchemy of Cassidy's transcendent rendition, while other tracks on this anthology showcase her ease in the realms of pop (Christine McVie's "Songbird"), soul ("People Get Ready"), gospel ("Wade on the Water"), and traditional standards ("Autumn Leaves" and "Over the Rainbow"). Framed by understated jazz and pop arrangements, Cassidy's clear, soulful voice and exquisite phrasing make her that rarest of vocalists whose interpretations are a complement to any song. A fine introduction to a true talent. --Billy Grenier