Previewing new albums from Lee Ann Womack, Pulp, Mana, and more.'Worth' Winning
Most artists go into the studio hoping to record hit songs that will strike a chord with their audience, but country songstress Lee Ann Womack aims for more than that. As the title of her new MCA Nashville album so succinctly puts it, she's looking for "Something Worth Leaving Behind." Indeed, Womack can already be credited with putting her signature vocals on a modern-day masterpiece, the Tia Sillers/Mark D. Sanders-penned "I Hope You Dance." The title song from her last album won single and song of the year honors at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards in 2000 and was named country song of the year in 2001 by ASCAP and BMI.
Written by Brett Beavers and Tom Douglas, the title cut of the new set is about doing something worthwhile in life and leaving a meaningful legacy -- whether through art, music, or just touching the lives of those you love. "It's a good message and one that I am glad to deliver," Womack says. "I hope to have a lot of those kinds of songs over the course of my career."
Elsewhere, Womack gravitates to songs by some of her favorite writers, including Bruce Robison, Gretchen Peters, and Julie Miller. "'Orphan Train' and 'I Need You' are very different," Womack observes. "Julie said to me when we were in the studio, 'Are you sure you want to cut these songs?' They sound different from anything I've ever done before." But Womack was as sure of those tracks as she was of everything else on the album. "I'm the one that has to listen to it forever, and I'm the one that has to get out here and perform it all the time," she says. "I really have to be stimulated and have to love it and be proud of it. I think I've made a record I can be proud of."
Te Amo Tambien
Mexican rock outfit Mana will unveil its seventh album, "Revolucion de Amor," this week via Warner Music International. It's the follow-up to 1997's "Suenos Liquidos," which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums tally and has sold more than 471,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. An "MTV Unplugged" album was released in 1999 and also hit No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums tally.
Mana got a boost of international visibility by guesting on the track "Corazon Espinado" from Santana's 1999 smash Arista album "Supernatural." Guitarist Carlos Santana returns the favor here; the album also features a guest turn from Latin star/actor Ruben Blades.
"We aren't into the concept of putting out one record a year," the band says. "For us it's important to take our time and dedication on each record we've created. We think our fans have appreciated that." Mana kicks off a 13-city U.S. tour Sept. 29 at the Magness Arena in Denver. The band will donate 50 cents from each ticket sold to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities CLASE Scholarship Fund, with tour sponsor Coors Brewing Company matching the band's contribution.
Storytelling is largely a lost art in rock'n'roll, but nobody seems to have told Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker. On "We Love Life" (out this week via Sanctuary/Rough Trade but available internationally since last year), he and his U.K.-based bandmates gives life to some of the most astonishing narratives imaginable, be they told from the perspective of plants ("Weeds") or a grieving lover lashing out at nature ("The Trees").
Cocker paints vivid pictures like no other, never better than on the eight-minute "Wickerman." Nearly tangible images (sludgy rivers, dilapidated amusement rides, empty factories) are wed to bittersweet memories and crowned with emotive, string-laden backing that drives it all home with uncommon power. The music here is just as compelling, from the glorious romantic kiss-off "Bad Cover Version," the spacious guitar rock of "The Night That Minnie Timperley Died," and the mystic trip-hop and whispered intonations of "Weeds II (The Origin of the Species), perhaps the sexiest song ever written about botany.
The group is planning a North American tour for later this year; beforehand, it will play the U.K.'s Reading, Leeds, and Glasgow Green festivals later this month.
The second volley of expanded and remastered albums by New York punk icons the Ramones will see the light of day this week via Rhino. This set consists of four albums originally released via Sire: 1980's "End of the Century," 1981's "Pleasant Dreams," 1983's "Subterranean Jungle," and 1984's "Too Tough To Die." Each are bolstered with new liner notes and at least seven additional tracks, many of which are previously unreleased.
The Phil Spector-produced "End of the Century" adds seven cuts, including "I Want You Around" from 1980's "Rock'n'Roll High School" soundtrack. Other additions are demos of "Danny Says, " I'm Affected," "Please Don't Leave," "All the Way," and "Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio?," and a radio spot by lead singer Joey Ramone, who died last April, as an unlisted track.
"Pleasant Dreams" also grows by seven tracks, led by an early version of "Touring" (from the 1992 Radioactive/MCA album "Mondo Bizarro") recorded during the "Pleasant Dreams" era. Also included is the previously unreleased "I Can't Get You Out of My Mind" and an alternate version of "Chop Suey," as well as demos of "Sleeping Troubles," "Kicks To Try," "I'm Not an Answer," and "Stares in This Town."
Seven bonus tracks fill out "Subterranean Jungle" as well, all previously unreleased. For "Too Tough to Die," which saw former Ramones drummer Tommy Erdelyi (aka Tommy Ramone) return to produce his former band, the original 13-track album is expanded by a total of 12 tracks.
Additional titles hitting stores this week include:
-- A new album from teen pop star Aaron Carter, "Another Earthquake" (Jive).
-- A two-disc concert collection from rock mainstays the Black Crowes, "Live" (V2).
-- Dance vocalist Amber's "Naked" (Tommy Boy).
-- The sophomore set from R&B vocalist Angie Martinez, "Animal House" (Elektra).
-- Two new albums from former Pixies frontman Frank Black, "Devil's Workshop" and "Black Letter Days" (spinART).
-- A bonanza of releases from female singer/songwriters: former Letters To Cleo frontwoman Kay Hanley's "Cherry Marmalade" (Zoe/Rounder); Neko Case's "Blacklisted" (Bloodshot); and Kelly Willis' "Easy" (Rykodisc).
-- Underground rock trio Sleater-Kinney's "One Beat" (Kill Rock Stars).
-- Veteran country act Diamond Rio's "Completely" (Arista).
-- Hall & Oates principal John Oates' "Phunk Shui" (Beyond).
-- A new album from new wave outfit Berlin, "Voyeur" (Beyond).
-- The self-titled debut from actor Andy Dick and his band Bitches Of The Century (Milan).
-- Former Grant Lee Buffalo frontman Grant-Lee Phillips' "Ladies Love Oracle" (Rounder).
-- Slipknot spinoff band Murderdolls' "Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls" (Roadrunner).
-- Indie rock act Spoon's "Kill the Moonlight" (Merge).