Christmas has come very early for country singer Garth Brooks

September 07, 1992|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

There are a lot of different ways to describe a product' popularity, but "it's selling like a Christmas album in August" isn't one of them. Because, as everyone knows, nobody buys Christmas albums in August.

Nobody except Garth Brooks fans, that is.

On Aug. 25, 1,576,716 copies of Brooks' "Beyond the Season" went on sale in record stores across the country. A week later, it was the fifth best-selling album in the country. (Publicists for Liberty Records, which released the album, did not have exact figures, but sales were estimated to exceed 200,000 units).

Christmas in August, anyone?

"I don't know what it means to be able to sell that many Christmas albums in August," said Anthony DeCurtis, album review editor at Rolling Stone. "It dwarfs all the explanations of it. I mean, these are Michael Jackson numbers."

Maybe so, but they're not that unusual for Brooks. His last album, "Ropin' the Wind," spent 50 weeks in the Top-10 (it slips to No. 15 this week), and its predecessor, "No Fences," has been in the Top 40 of the Billboard album charts for two years now. Add in the singer's self-titled debut, and Brooks has moved more than 12 million albums so far this year -- not bad numbers for a recession.

Brooks may have primed the pump some when he announced, two weeks prior to the album's release, that one dollar from the sale of each album will be donated to a charity called Feed the Children. But as DeCurtis sees it, Garth-mania goes beyond such specifics as charity causes or song selection.

"When things start moving in those numbers, people are making some kind of point to themselves about the music of their lives," he says.

"With Garth, I think that there's just a desire to be part of something, a kind of communal act of consumerism. So going to the store and buying it is just a declaration of faith. And that's what buying the Garth Brooks album is about at this point. You're taking your stand.

"So this one happens to be a Christmas album, and it happens to be September. So what? He's touched people in this way."

Brooks, by the way, will be reaching out to touch his fans again soon. According to Liberty, the singer's fifth album, "The Chase," is due in record stores Sept. 22. But this album's release may not be so merry -- the projected list price for this 10-song CD is $16.98, a new high for the industry.

Ho ho ho?

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