Blowing in: new sounds, familiar faces, big concerts Music: Albums are on the way from recent stars like Sheryl Crow and Snoop Doggy Dogg, nut old performers like Donovan and the Monkees are still generating heat.

Pop Music Preview.

September 22, 1996|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

If the summer of '96 left pop fans with a profound sense of deja vu, as such reconstituted rock bands as KISS and the Sex Pistols toured the country, the fall ought to provide welcome relief -- at least to an extent.

With new albums on the way from Dr. Dre, Sheryl Crow, Crash Test Dummies, Counting Crows, Phil Collins, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Babyface, Alan Jackson, Snoop Doggy Dogg and the "Evita" soundtrack (featuring Madonna), there will be no shortage of fresh sounds for the pre-Christmas season. But as was the case this summer, retro-rockers will also have a significant presence, thanks to reunion albums by Journey, the Monkees (all four, including Mike Nesmith) and Van Halen (back with David Lee Roth again), as well as new releases from such long-silent stars as Donovan, Curtis Mayfield and Karen Carpenter.

It won't all be albums this fall, either. Although the summer tends to be the preferred season for pop tours, some major acts will be heading our way over the coming months.

One of the biggest arrives Tuesday, when Pearl Jam plays a sold-out show at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. Also on the way are Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Nas, Keith Sweat and SWV (Saturday at the Patriot Center); one-time Baltimorean Tori Amos (Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at the Lyric Opera House); Neil Diamond (Oct. 1 at USAir Arena); Alan Jackson (Oct. 4 at USAir Arena); the Richard Thompson Band (Oct. 14 at the Senator); and Z.Z. Top (Oct. 31 at USAir Arena). Likely but not yet announced are shows by Rush, Brooks & Dunn, and Robyn Hitchcock with Billy Bragg.

Unlike concert dates, which rarely move once they've been set, album release schedules are maddeningly uncertain. It's not unusual to see some albums pushed up a week or two while others get pushed back to sometime next year -- even if they were already "set" for release. Needless to say, this makes assembling a forecast a bit more like crystal-ball reading than we critics like. So keep in mind that the following dates are all subject to change.

Tuesday Sheryl Crow does her best to make lightning strike twice with "Sheryl Crow" (A&M), the follow-up to her multiplatinum debut, "Tuesday Night Music Club." Although the album's sound is harder-rocking than its predecessor, the songs remain as tuneful as before.

Dr. Dre attempts to build his own empire -- and stop some of the madness bedeviling gangsta rap -- as he launches his own label, Aftermath. Its first release, "Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath," has already generated quite a buzz on the strength of the all-star rap "East Coast Killa/West Coast Killa."

Also due out that day are a moody, blues-soaked collaboration between John Parish and Polly Jean Harvey called "Dancehall at Louse Point" (Island); former Bangle Susannah Hoffs returns with "Susannah Hoffs" (London); Weezer uncorks its second pop-powered release, "Pinkerton" (DGC); and jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman further enhances his reputation with "Freedom in the Groove" (Warner Bros.).

Oct. 1: After listening to hundreds of hours of live tapes, surviving Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl have assembled the ultimate Nirvana live album, "From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah" (DGC). Drawing from performances recorded between 1989 and 1994, it presents a raw, aggressive version of the band's sound, and includes such songs as "Lithium," "Heart-Shaped Box" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Determined to show that there's more to their sound than "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm," Crash Test Dummies will release their third album, the sardonic "Worm's Life" (Arista). Meanwhile, Luther Vandross goes all out to reinforce his standing as an R&B Love God with "Your Secret Love" (Epic).

Also out that week: Kenny G serves up another plate of soul-inflected instrumental pop with "The Moment" (Arista); Curtis Mayfield releases "New World Order" (Warner Bros.), his first full album since being paralyzed in a stage accident in 1990; Shawn Colvin dissects a failing relationship in the dark, thoughtful "A Few Small Repairs" (Columbia); and everyone from Blues Traveler to Tori Amos offers live performances on "VH1 Crossroads" (Atlantic).

Oct. 8: Remember when Alice Cooper was the scariest star in rock and roll? Those days will seem all the more quaint after shock rockers Marilyn Manson release their third, the deeply warped "Antichrist Superstar" (Interscope/Nothing). Just in time for Halloween, right?

Although Karen Carpenter began work on a solo album in 1980, it was unreleased at the time of her death in 1983, and apart from four tracks included on the posthumous Carpenters release "Lovelines," has remained unheard. That changes with the release of "Karen Carpenter" (A&M).

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