October roars to a close with a huge list of necessary tuneage, including a must-own new album from one of the best bands going. Dig in:


The year’s most hotly-anticipated theatrical event lands this week when This Is It — a film culled from over one hundred hours of footage of Michael Jackson’s final days, footage recorded during rehearsals for what were to be Jackson’s farewell concerts — debuts on three thousand screens today. To accompany the film, which is expected to be an epic, record-shattering blockbuster, comes an identically-titled 2-CD soundtrack, which contains a collection of Michael’s best-loved classics, as well as the Paul Anka-penned title track, which was discovered in a box of tapes in one of Jackson’s vaults this past summer following his passing.

Evidently, Barry Manilow and Rod Stewart have made it their goal in life to cover every hit song that has ever existed. Stewart, in particular, is attacking this newest phase of his career with particular verve: on the heels of his repeated plundering of the American songbook, followed by Still the Same, a warmed-over rehash of the the so-called “great rock classics of our time,” comes Soulbook, a 13-track collection of classic R&B covers, most of which are wholly unnecessary. (Rod, I adore you and I’ve proven that repeatedly here on the Buzz, but the world just doesn’t need another subpar cover of “You Really Got a Hold On Me,” my darling!) Stewart calls in the cavalry to help him bring this project to life, with guest appearances from Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Jennifer Hudson.

You can bet they never dreamed when they started the project some five years ago that their unassuming little Irish film Once would touch the hearts of movie fans across the globe, and net them each a songwriting Academy Award to boot. But that’s exactly what has happened to the incredible Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova — known now as simply The Swell Season — and at long last, they are finally ready to unveil the long-awaited follow-up to their stunning breakthrough as a duo. Have yet to hear a note of Strict Joy, but I’m ready to wager right now sight unseen that it’s every bit as profoundly enriching as its predecessor.

A full formal review is forthcoming — got a lot to say about this one! — so I won’t scoop myself by spilling too much ink on it in this space, but let it suffice to say that whatever weird stupor that Pat Monahan and those brilliant boys from Train had fallen into on their last album — 2006’s abysmally muddled For Me, It’s You — has been dispatched entirely, and that their fabulous new album Save Me, San Francisco is a grand slam. Oh, and that the record’s thrillingly brilliant title track — a hilariously rambunctious love letter to the band’s hometown — is a start-to-finish riot. Welcome back, gentlemen.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • It’s not exactly a Christmas album per se,
    but the legendary Sting returns with a record
    appropriate for the season, If On a Winter’s Night….

  • One of my favorite people on the planet,
    the sensational Lorrie Morgan, ends her recording hiatus
    with a new album, A Moment in Time.

  • Dolly, a new four-disc box set of hits and rarities
    from the one and only Dolly Parton.

  • Urryone’s favorite indie twins Tegan and Sara are back
    with their sixth album, Sainthood.

  • Sherry Ann’s favorite troubadour Jack Johnson offers up En Concert, an intimate look at his most recent tour. (Sherry Ann’s other favorite troubadour Eddie Vedder also makes a cameo.)

  • Live at the Olympia, a three-disc concert set from R.E.M.

  • A new studio track and a rollicking cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” punctuate Pink‘s Funhouse Tour: Live in Australia.

  • Not so long ago, they were the hottest-selling band on the globe. Now that lead singer (and chief songwriter) Scott Stapp has returned, looks as though Creed has come Full Circle.

  • That irritating moppet Taylor Swift has attached six new songs and a DVD chock full of videos and featurettes to her smash 2008 album and has re-released it as Fearless: Platinum Edition.

  • The deluxe reissues of U2‘s classic discography
    continue this week with a three-disc expansion
    of the band’s 1984 triumph The Unforgettable Fire.

  • Country hero Joe Nichols is up with his latest record, Old Things New.

  • Velvet-voiced Brian McKnight is still at it with his latest,
    Evolution of a Man.

  • Just for you, A: The Essential Weird Al Yankovic.

  • And finally, my beloved Carly Simon revisits a handful of her classic tunes, from “You’re So Vain” to “Coming Around Again,” in the new acoustic set Never Been Gone.


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