Billboard Bits: Tim McGraw, Nina Persson, and more

News on Tim McGraw, Nina Persson, Echo & the Bunnymen, Republica.

Tim McGraw will celebrate the release of his new Curb album, "Set the Circus Down" on Tuesday (April 24) with free performances in New York and Nashville. With his band the Dancehall Doctors, the artist will play a five-song acoustic set at 12:30 p.m. at New York's South Street Seaport. McGraw will then take a chartered flight to Nashville where he and the band will entertain fans at 6 p.m. in a circus tent set up in a a downtown area known as the Gulch.

"Set the Circus Down" is McGraw's first studio album since 1999's "A Place in the Sun," which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. Last year Curb released "Greatest Hits," which also bowed on top of the country chart, and at No. 4 on The Billboard 200.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

As tipped here in February, Cardigans vocalist Nina Persson has launched a solo project under the moniker A Camp. The group's self-titled debut album is scheduled for worldwide release on Aug. 20 via Stockholm Records. The first single, "I Can Buy You," drops June 25.

Persson has been recording material for a number of years and is said to have been ready to release a solo album as much as two years ago. But Stockholm was reluctant to release it, fearing it would have interfered with the Cardigans' 1998 album "Gran Turismo." That set peaked at a disappointing No. 151 on The Billboard 200, after its predecessor, "Last Band on the Moon," topped out at No. 35 in February 1997.

-- Kai R. Lofthus, Oslo

Echo & the Bunnymen will get the boxed set treatment on July 17 from Rhino Records. The four-disc set,
dubbed "Echo and the Bunnymen: Crystal Days 1979-1999," will be preceded May 22 by a previously announced new album, "Flowers" (spinART/Cooking Vinyl). The band will begin an American tour in July.

"Crystal Days" features 72 tracks, 14 of which are previously unreleased and 23 of which have never before been available on CD. The set contains "Monkeys," the first tune ever recorded by the new-wave, psychedelic-minded pop band, as well as B-sides, outtakes, and unheard songs from a scrapped 1996 album. The fourth disc in the set features a live performance, which finds the band covering Bob Dylan, Jonathan Richman, Television, the Doors, and the Velvet Underground.

-- Todd Martens, L.A.

Republica and BMG have parted ways, Billboard Bulletin reports. The U.K. modern rock outfit signed in 1994 to Arista dance imprint DeConstruction, and went on to sell more than 1 million copies of its eponymous 1996 debut, which featured the hit single "Ready to Go." The band's 1998 sophomore album, "Speed Ballads," sold just 300,000 units worldwide, according to the label.

"With the DeConstruction label now on hold [due to structural changes within the company] both BMG and Republica felt it appropriate that the band's future belonged elsewhere," the company said in a statement.

-- Lars Brandle, London


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