Record labels get into the groove Music: From the Stones to Streisand, the big push for sales is on.

September 28, 1997|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

To the rest of the world, the months between Sept. 21 and Dec. 21 constitute fall. For the recording industry, however, that time is considered the Christmas Rush. It's when CD stores move the most product, and when major labels try their hardest to improve their profit picture.

This year is no exception. Big new albums are already out by Fleetwood Mac, Mariah Carey and Puff Daddy, and there's more the way. Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson,

Jane's Addiction, L.L. Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, Shania Twain, Babyface, Barbra Streisand and Metallica are just a few of the acts who will be vying for the top of the pops in the coming months.

Here are some of the highlights. Release dates are based on information available at press time and may be subject to change.

SEPT. 30

Rolling Stones, "Bridges to Babylon" (Virgin): In which the aging legends try to sound young and funky. In addition to producer Don Was, who oversaw 1994's rootsy "Voodoo Lounge," this album boasts studio help from the Dust Brothers (who did Beck and Hanson) and Babyface.

Bob Dylan, "Time Out of Mind" (Columbia): In which the aging legend follows in the path of Emmylou Harris. Working with producer Daniel Lanois, Dylan goes for a sound that's spooky and modern. It's also his first full album of new material since 1990's "Under the Red Sky."

Jane's Addiction, "Kettle Whistle" (Warner Bros.): Temporarily putting aside Porno for Pyros, alternarock avatar Perry Farrell regroups his old bandmates for a new album and tour.

Portishead, "Portishead" (Go! Discs/London): If Tricky represents the daring, arty aspects of trip-hop, Portishead defines its moody, melancholy side with a sound that could pass for the musical equivalent of film noir. Proof that "Sour Times" was no accident.

OCT. 7

Janet Jackson, "The Velvet Rope" (Virgin): In interviews, Jackson has described this as her most personal album to date. Indeed it is, delving so deeply into issues of desire and sexual identity that even devoted fans may be surprised. "Got 'Til It's Gone," the Joni Mitchell-inspired first single, barely hints at what lurks behind the rope.

Everclear, "So Much for the Afterglow" (Capitol): Like Frank Black, Everclear understands that it is possible to fold punk rock aggression into the sort of sonic wonderworlds Brian Wilson created for the Beach Boys.

Pixies, "Death to the Pixies" (Elektra): Speaking of Frank Black, this anthology looks back at his incredibly influential first band, the raging, tuneful Pixies.

OCT. 14

LL Cool J, "Phenomenon" (Def Jam): Rap's elder statesman at the tender age of 29, LL will continue the genre's longest unbroken winning streak with album No. 8.

Aaron Neville, "To Make Me Who I Am" (A&M): Taking a tip from Ronald Isley, Neville updates his sound with a smattering of slick, soulful ballads. But there's still enough of the usual touches to please older fans.

OCT. 21

Bobby Brown, "Forever" (MCA): Will this be the comeback his work with the reunited New Edition promised? Or will he continue to be known as Mr. Whitney Houston?

OCT. 28

Salt-N-Pepa, "Brand New" (London): Their first album since breaking away from producer Hurby "Love Bug" Azor, this is where hip-hop's first ladies make it clear that they're nobody's studio creation.

Phish, "Slip, Stitch and Pass" (Elektra): Another jam-heavy live album. This one comes even closer than the last to capturing the band's onstage magic.

Simon & Garfunkel, "Old Friends" (Columbia/Legacy): A boxed set including all the duo's original recordings, as well as 15 previously unreleased tracks.

The Doors, "The Doors" (Elektra): The long-awaited boxed set, ,, packed with rarities and previously unreleased live tracks.

NOV. 4

Shania Twain, "Love Gets Me Every Time" (Mercury): Teamed again with husband Robert John "Mutt" Lange, whose hook-heavy production helped "The Woman in Me" sell 12 million copies, this album promises more of the same, only spunkier.

Various, "Tibetan Freedom Concert" (Capitol): The Milarepa Fund aid Tibet has become rock's hippest cause, and this triple-CD set documents the most recent benefit shows. Performances are by U2, Beck, the Beastie Boys, Alanis Morissette, the Fugees and other equally hip acts.

NOV. 11

Led Zeppelin, "Live at the BBC" (Atlantic): As with the Beatles' "Live at the BBC," this double-CD unearths live material most Zep fans didn't know existed. It's the first new unreleased material from the rock legends in 15 years. Need we say more?

Will Smith, title to be announced (Columbia): Sure, rapper and actor Smith may have been deemed a lightweight back when he was still teamed with Jazzy Jeff as the Fresh Prince. But as "Men In Black" made plain, he still has such stuff as hits are made of.

NOV. 18

Babyface, "Unplugged" (Epic): He may be the most successful songwriter and producer in pop music today, but he has yet to have the same impact as a performer. The smart money says this album will change that. Look for guest spots by Eric Clapton and others.

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