Previewing new albums from Aaliyah, Craig David, Buffalo Springfield, Perry Farrell, Iggy Pop, and more.
Return Of The Queen
Aaliyah's self-titled Virgin set, recorded in Australia with collaborators such as Timbaland, J Dub, and Bud'da, features first single "We Need a Resolution," which is at No. 23 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. "I'm adamant about staying true to myself, which is why we all really loved working in Australia," she says. "We got to get away from what was going on [in the States]."
Other standout cuts include "Never No More," which tackles the issue of domestic violence with an honest, sensitive touch. "I wanted a song on the album that spoke about a heavy topic, but not in a preachy way," the artist notes.
In addition to landing her the role in the upcoming film "Queen of the Damned," Aaliyah's performance in the smash hit "Romeo Must Die" also led to her roles in the sequels to "The Matrix" and a remake of 1976's "Sparkle," the story of a Supremes-like group's rise to stardom, which Whitney Houston is producing.
"I want people to look at me as a music artist and enjoy my music, and then look at Aaliyah as an actress as well," she says. "There will be times when I do a song on a soundtrack, and then there will be times when I won't do music, and I'll just be in the movie acting. I feel that I'm versatile, and I want that to be seen."
'Born' To Be A Star
Can a U.K. R&B/pop sensation translate worldwide sales exceeding 3.5 million into Stateside success? That's the question facing Atlantic Records, as the label prepares for the North American release this week of Craig David's "Born to Do It." Released in the U.K. last summer on Wildstar Records, David's self-penned effort rocketed into the No. 1 slot on the charts there, thanks to two smash hit singles, "Fill Me In" and "7 Days."
"Fill Me In," which currently stands at No. 19 on both Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and The Billboard Hot 100, is bolstered by the Latin-accented second single, "7 Days," the rock'n'funk "Walking Away," the easy-groovin' "Rendezvous," the club jam "Time to Party," and the sparkling "Last Night."
Asked why his songs have become so popular so fast, the 20-year-old Southampton native attributes it to simplicity. "That's what people are enjoying," he says. "Regardless of production, I write to keep a melodic flavor throughout and not jump around doing acrobatics and ad-libs. I like to keep it simple and let the melody take you. Lyrically, I write about life experiences I've been through without being too specific -- which can keep people from being able to totally relate."
For What It's Worth
Working with Neil Young in choosing material for the new four-disc Buffalo Springfield boxed set "was like watching a home movie and visiting your therapist at the same time," Stephen Stills says, before erupting in loud, throaty laughter. "Neil and I just sat there and laughed and cried and held hands and hugged. At one point, Neil and I even went, 'Wow! You can hear us -- we're starting to deteriorate right there, we're starting to fall apart.'"
The fruits of that "therapy" see the light of day this week, when Rhino issues the 88-track "Box Set," a project Young has been working on sporadically for about a decade. With more than 30 priceless demos -- including several tracks featuring Young on solo guitar and lead vocal -- "Box Set" is the first multi-disc set to honor the revered, short-lived supergroup (Stills, Young, singer/guitarist Richie Furay, drummer Dewey Martin, and bassist Bruce Palmer, who was later replaced by Jim Messina).
"Box Set" features newly remastered versions of the group's first two albums, "Buffalo Springfield" and "Buffalo Springfield Again." Also included in the package will be historical essays, rare photos, and memorabilia, and a listing of the band's concert appearances.
'Song' And Dance
As founder/leader of both Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros -- as well as the mastermind behind the Lollapalooza Festival -- Perry Farrell is, hands down, a truly influential and innovative card-carrying member of the modern rock community. And if his solo debut is any indication, he may soon be the unofficial poster child of clubland.
Due out this week after months of delays, the sterling "Song Yet to Be Sung" (Virgin) finds Farrell tempering lush electronic landscapes with live instrumentation. Assisting Farrell in carrying out this seemingly effortless task are producers Krish Sharma, Marius de Vries, and Mad Professor -- and a handful of past bandmates, including Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins, Martyn Le Noble.
Such potent jams as "Seeds," "Happy Birthday Jubilee," "Did You Forget," "Shekina," and the title track showcase an artist who's not afraid to completely obliterate the boundaries that still manage to exist between dance/electronic, alt-rock, dub, African, and Eastern leanings. Look for Farrell on tour with the reunited Jane's Addiction later this summer.
Ready For A 'Beat'ing
With his new Virgin release "Beat 'Em Up," punk icon Iggy Pop says he was looking to create a garage-rock album that was also "kind of a '70s revival, classic rock album." At the same time, Virgin was hungry for an album that was "mindful of new rock," one that could "be played on the radio and will appeal to the new demographic," he says.
The result is a solid mixture of both, a batch of songs that veers deeply into Pop's Stooges past on one track, only to leap decades into the future and mimic a Korn/Slipknot/Limp Bizkit riff on the next. "I wanted something with some integrity to it," he offers. "And then, having said that, I wanted to try and make it as accessible as possible."
The songs on "Beat 'Em Up" -- produced by Pop and engineered by Danny Kader -- are among the first batch Pop has written since his recent move to Miami, ending a run of more than 10 years in New York. So, why does the 54-year-old Pop still crank out new material? What drives him? "A fierce desire to do something that doesn't suck," he replies.
Additional titles hitting stores this week include R&B vocalist Foxy Brown's "Broken Silence" (Def Jam); rapper Kurupt's "Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey" (Antra/Artemis); U.K. rock trio the Beta Band's "Hot Shots II" (Astralwerks); pop vocalist Willa Ford's "Willa Was Here" (Lava/Atlantic); rapper Bad Azz's "Personal Business" (Frontline/Priority); jazz pianist Keiko Matsui's "Deep Blue" (Narada Jazz); singer/songwriter Edith Frost's "Wonder Wonder" (Drag City); rapper Lil' O's "Da Fat Rat Wit Da Cheeze" (Gameface/Atlantic); folk-tinged rock outfit the Actual Tigers' "Gravelled and Green" (Nettwerk); hard rock act Nullset's "Nullset" (Grand Royal/Virgin); singer/songwriter Patrick Phelan's "Parlor" (Secretly Canadian); the soundtrack to the film "America's Sweethearts" (Atlantic); electronic/dance act DJ Spiller's "Groovejet" EP (Big Beat/Atlantic); jam band Deep Banana Blackout's "Feel the Peel" (Flying Frog); and modern rock outfit Joydrop's "Viberate" (Tommy Boy).
Also out this week is a concert set from the late jazz great Miles Davis, "Live at the Fillmore East (March 7, 1970): It's About That Time" (Blue Note); an expanded edition of rock act Dream Syndicate's "The Days of Wine and Roses" (Rhino); a compilation from U.K. rock outfit Radio Birdman, "The Essential (1974-1978)" (Sub Pop); a four-disc box set from veteran U.K. modern rock group Echo and the Bunnymen, "Crystal Days (1979-1999)" (Rhino); and a two-CD collection from '60s rock supergroup the Yardbirds, "Ultimate!" (Rhino).