Previewing new albums from Creed, Marc Anthony, Timbaland & Magoo, Mick Jagger, Sting, and more.
'Weather'ing The Storm
"Everything about this record is turned up a few extra notches," Creed frontman Scott Stapp says about "Weathered," the modern rock trio's third Wind-Up set, due this week. "The uptempo songs rock harder than anything we've imagined doing, and the softer, chilled songs have more depth, more complexity. We went for broke on this album -- no boundaries, no limits." The set has gotten a huge pre-release boost from the single "My Sacrifice," which is No. 2 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and No. 5 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks tally.
And although Stapp asserts that he and guitarist/songwriting partner Mark Tremonti do not create music with the intention of directly affecting the thoughts and emotions of their fans, it's becoming an increasingly welcome by-product. "The words I write, I write for myself," Stapp says. "The idea of those words connecting with people who are also searching for light at the end of the tunnel is gratifying. This band has seen a whole lot of the country over the past few years, and it's been sad to feel the tension and anger among kids. If one of our songs can help break or relieve some of that tension, that's a staggering, truly humbling gift."
One of Stapp and Tremonti's more combustible collaborations on "Weathered" is "Who's Got My Back," a tune that saw Stapp tracing the Cherokee portion of his heritage. "Every time I heard the intro to the song, I envisioned a tribal Indian chant," Stapp says. Bo Taylor, a man fluent in ancient Cherokee chants, joined Creed in the studio to provide an extra blast of authenticity. "He caught the vibe immediately, stepped up to the mic, and belted out four or five different chants. It's so moving to me. It literally brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it." Look for Creed on tour internationally in the spring of 2002.
Marc Anthony is an artist who usually cuts albums in three weeks to a month. But it took him almost nine months -- more than with any other project -- to wrap up his return to salsa after his successful English-language debut in 1999. Indeed, Anthony felt that possibly for the first time in his relatively short and mercurial career, he not only had the luxury of time but of inspiration, ease, and total artistic liberty. And so, he titled his album "Libre" (Free) not after a track but after a state of mind. "I think it [is] the first time in my life, ever, that I'm completely satisfied," he admits.
"Libre," due this week from Sony Discos/Columbia, is Anthony's most personal work and an album he arranged, produced, and mixed in its entirety, working with longtime keyboardist Juanito Gonzalez as co-producer in what he calls "a match made in heaven." The set is 100% salsa, sung in Spanish (Anthony considers singing salsa in English "sacrilege") and works as both a departure from Anthony's previous work and a logical continuation of it.
Drawing from a great variety of world rhythms, the songs employ multiple instrumental layerings that go far beyond the standard horns and keyboards. Many tracks start slowly or with lengthy instrumental introductions ("Barco a la Deriva" begins with an Andean flute intro, "Hasta que Vuelvas Conmigo" starts as a classic guitar-based romantic trio), expands, and finally locks into the clave (the salsa beat) to become hard-hitting salsa. The single "Celos" has been a quick smash at radio, and is No. 1 on Billboard's Tropical/Salsa Airplay chart.
Two of the biggest names in urban music production step out from behind the boards this week with albums of their own. But in a strange twist, Timbaland's long delayed sophomore set with partner Magoo, "Indecent Proposal" (Blackground/Virgin) may turn out to be the duo's last. "It's a good album, but I'm not happy with it," says a frustrated Timbaland, who declares the set will be his final one as an artist. "I turned it in a year and a half ago, and it's just coming out. And now we're in a recession... it doesn't make sense."
Timbaland, who has drawn wide acclaim for his production work with Missy Elliott, the late Aaliyah, and Ginuwine, admits, "my first love is producing. I just didn't have the control that I wanted [with this album]. I wasn't able to oversee things the way I would have liked to in terms of release dates, etc." The 15-track "Indecent Proposal," the follow-up to 1997's "Welcome to Our World," features guest appearances from Aaliyah, Ludacris, Jay-Z, and Tweet, among others. The single "All Ya'll" is No. 58 on the Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart this week.
Delays also plagued "In Search Of...," the maiden Virgin release from producers-of-the-moment the Neptunes' N*E*R*D project, which was scrapped from a September release date when the group replaced the original backing tracks with live instrumentation. According to group member Pharrell Williams, it had already taken a year's worth of time -- creating a track and putting it away -- to get the music together for "In Search Of..." A combination of eclectic beats and message-oriented lyrics, the album presents a new perspective on hip-hop through such tracks as "Lapdance." Williams and partner Chad Hugo, known for their work with Britney Spears, 'N Sync, and Ol' Dirty Bastard, are joined on the album by rapper Shay and such guests as Lee Harvey and Vita.
Through The 'Doorway'
After the Rolling Stones' marathon Bridges to Babylon tour two years ago, frontman Mick Jagger wrote a few songs, began recording them at homea and he suddenly realized he had an album in the making. "I started recording at home in France and in the Caribbean with a hard-drive computer," he says. "I thought, 'This is me. It's a solo record.'" Jagger might still have taken the songs that have to come together to form "Goddess in the Doorway" (Virgin) to the Stones had it not been for advice offered by his old friend and London neighbor, the Who mastermind Pete Townshend.
"Pete said that often with the Who he'd recorded wonderful demos and then he had to go and play them with the band and they never came out the same," Jagger recalls. "I thought, 'I've already done these songs, and I don't need to go in a studio and do them again with other people.'" Indeed, all songs were either written or co-written by Jagger. High-profile collaborators include Townshend, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, Lenny Kravitz (who co-wrote and co-produced "God Gave Me Everything") and an impressive cast of singing partners such as Wyclef Jean, Rob Thomas of matchbox twenty, and U2's Bono.
"The good thing about being in a band is there's a committee," explains Jagger. "But that's the bad thing about it as well. You try to please everyone. In the end, the danger is you end up pleasing nobody. I'm not saying that's true of all the records the Stones have made. But it is a danger. With this record, I could go any way I wanted." The artist says he is not planning a full-scale tour in support of the album, but that a tour to celebrate the Stones' 40th anniversary is likely for 2002. An ABC documentary special, "Becoming Mick," airs Nov. 22.
'Time' To Reflect
Sting's new A&M/Interscope live album, "... All This Time," was recorded in Italy on the night of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. "At first I didn't want to sing," the veteran hitmaker admits. But after opening the show with "Fragile" as a tribute to those lost in the tragedy, a set began to emerge, with Sting asking for suggestions of appropriate songs from his catalog. "As the evening wore on, although we began in a very somber and tentative way, it became sort of defiant, it became a celebration of feeling, which I suppose is anti-terrorist," he reflects. "That's what I feel; that these people want to kill our mode of expression, our joy, and we can't let them do that."
The show went on to feature radical new arrangements of tracks both familiar ("All This Time," "Don't Stand So Close to Me," "Fields of Gold," "Every Breath You Take") and obscure ("The Hounds of Winter," "Dienda," "Moon Over Bourbon Street"). "I think the band played out of their skins that night," Sting offers. "Everybody did. I sang in a way I never sang before. I don't normally get involved emotionally in the singing. If you've written the melody and the lyrics, they will transmit the emotions that you mean them to. But that night, it was impossible not to get swept up in this feeling."
Sting will perform these new versions in a series of upcoming concerts, including an Elton John-organized AIDS benefit in Los Angeles on Dec. 12 and a benefit for the Silver Lake Silver Lining substance abuse program the next night in Silver Lake, Calif.
Additional titles hitting stores this week include:
-- a new set from rap/rocker Kid Rock, "Cocky," featuring Uncle Kracker, Sheryl Crow, and Snoop Dogg (Clarkston Chophouse/Lava/Atlantic)
-- the eighth volume in the compilation series "NOW! That's What I Call Music" (Virgin), featuring hits from 'N Sync, Aaliyah, U2, and Jennifer Lopez, among others
-- Wu-Tang clan principal Ghostface Killah's "Bulletproof Wallets" (Starks Enterprises/Epic)
-- an album from rising soul star, Jill Scott, "Experience: Jill Scott (826 Plus)," featuring 11 live tracks and six new songs (Hidden Beach/Epic)
-- rapper G-Dep's "Child of the Ghetto" (Bad Boy/Arista)
-- a new album from vocalist Pink, "Missundaztood" (Arista)
-- a five-disc, 94-track collection from hard rock icons Kiss, "Box Set" (Mercury)
-- the debut set from Atlanta hip-hop collective Dungeon Family, "Even In Darkness" (Arista)
-- inspirational act Third Day's "Come Together" (Essential)
-- the self-titled debut from rock outfit Hoobastank (Island)
-- seasonal albums from soul vocalist Kelly Price, "One Family" (Def Soul); Latin music veteran Jon Secada, "Xmas" (Epic); and country artist Deana Carter, "Father Christmas" (Beyond)
-- a repackaged edition of hard rock act Mudvayne's debut album "Kill, I Oughta," bolstered with two new remixes, "The Beginning of All Things to End" (Epic)
-- reissues of rock legends Aerosmith's "Get a Grip" and "Permanent Vacation," plus "Young Lust: the Anthology," featuring nine previously unreleased tracks (Geffen).
-- best-of packages from enduring brotherly trio the Bee Gees, "Their Greatest Hits -- The Record" (UTV); defunct modern rock act Smashing Pumpkins, "Greatest Hits" (Virgin); and country veteran Clint Black, "Greatest Hits II" (RCA); and chart-topping R&B outfit Boyz II Men, "Legacy -- The Greatest Hits Collection" (Universal)"