It's going to be crowded in CD stores by Christmas.
After a largely superstar-less summer, the record industry is coming on strong for the fall, with a boatload of big-name releases set to be in stores by early December.
Just some of the highlights: Garth Brooks, Nine Inch Nails, Will Smith, Barbra Streisand, Rage Against the Machine, Brooks & Dunn, Paula Cole, Sting, Don Henley, Biggie Smalls, Mariah Carey, Marilyn Manson, Jewel, Metallica, Savage Garden, Beck, Live, Dru Hill, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Fiona Apple and Korn.
FOR THE RECORD - Also in yesterday's Live section, a letter was inadvertently dropped from rapper DMX's name in the CD preview, and some phone numbers in the concert season preview were incorrect. The correct number for the Ram's Head Inn is 410-268-4545. The correct number for the Recher Theatre is 410-337-7210. The correct number for D.A.R. Constitution Hall is 202-628-4780. The Sun regrets the error.
Things won't be quite as crazed on the concert side of things. Although there are a couple of big festivals on the horizon, including the year's second HFStival (this one featuring Limp Bizkit, the Chemical Brothers, 311, Filter and others), there are relatively few big-name tours.
Teen sensations the Backstreet Boys have two sold-out shows at the MCI Center next week, hard rockers Creed and Our Lady Peace are due at the Patriot Center on Sept. 28, and alt-rockers Live are likely to play somewhere in Washington in late November, but beyond that, it should be relatively quiet in the arenas for a while.
It's just as well, since music fans will want to save their pennies for CD shopping.
Perhaps the strangest new release is "Garth Brooks ... In the Life of Chris Gaines" (due Sept. 28), in which the country superstar assumes the identity of a tragically tormented (and totally fictitious) Australian rock star.
In some cases, fans have literally been waiting years for these albums. Half a decade has passed since moody industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails released their last album, "The Downward Spiral," and advance word suggests that "The Fragile" (due Sept. 21) is even more exhilaratingly intense than its predecessor.
Michael Jackson's last big blast was four years ago, when he decided to make "HIStory," a two-CD mix of greatest hits and new recordings. He's expected to follow that up with a whole album of new stuff -- his first since 1991's "Dangerous" -- sometime this fall, though there's no word on exact timing or name.
Former Eagle Don Henley hasn't released an album of new material since "The End of the Innocence" in 1989. He finally breaks his silence with "Otherwise" (due Nov. 2).
In the three years since Rage Against the Machine released its last album, "Evil Empire," a slew of bands has emulated Rage's rap/metal fusion. Rage guitarist Tom Morello promises the band's new album (due Nov. 9) "is going to send them all back to the woodshed."
There are also a number of reunions on the way. Fans of '80s electro-pop will be happy to know that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart re-team as the Eurythmics for "Peace" (due Nov. 19); and classic rockers can look forward to "Looking Forward," a new one from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (due Oct. 26).
Here are some of the more significant albums scheduled for release this fall. Bear in mind that all release dates are subject to change.
Beatles, "Yellow Submarine" (Capitol). A reworked version of the familiar soundtrack, including songs heard in the film but not included on the old soundtrack album. Sept. 15
Nanci Griffith, "The Dust Bowl Symphony" (Elektra). Who says a working-class perspective and orchestral arrangements don't mix? Sept. 15
O.D.B., "N***a Please" (Elektra). What he's been up to between arrests? Sept. 15
Tori Amos, "to venus and back" (Atlantic). A double-CD set, with one disc of new studio recordings and one of live performances from her last tour.
Brooks & Dunn, "Tightrope" (Arista). The fifth album from country music's most popular duo. Sept. 21
Chris Cornell, "Euphoria Morning" (A&M). A brash, Beatles-influenced solo album by the former Soundgarden singer. Sept. 21
Iron Maiden, "Ed Hunter" (Portrait/Columbia). Remember the glories of early '80s metal? They sure hope you do. Sept. 21
Nine Inch Nails, "The Fragile" (Nothing/Interscope). Another musically adventurous look into the tortured soul of NIN frontman Trent Reznor. Sept. 21
Stereolab, "Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night" (Elektra). More quirky, hypnotic, synth-heavy art pop from these Anglo-French alt-rockers. Sept. 21
Barbra Streisand, "A Love Like Ours" (Columbia 69601). A love song-heavy celebration of her romance with actor James Brolin. Sept. 21
Various artists, "Saturday Night Live: The Musical Performances" (Dreamworks). No joke -- a collection of songs live from New York, featuring Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Nirvana, Dr. Dre, the Grateful Dead and more. Sept. 21
Marc Anthony, "I Need to Know" (Columbia). A mostly English album, big on ballads, by one of the best-selling singers in Hispanic pop. Sept. 28
Garth Brooks, "Garth Brooks ... In the Life of Chris Gaines" (Capitol). No twang here, as Brooks assumes the identity of an Australian rocker and tries his hand at everything from Beatlesque pop to mild rap. Sept. 28
Meredith Brooks, "Deconstruction" (Capitol). A funky follow-up from the singer who gave us "Bitch." Sept. 28