25 October 2008

2008 Store Exclusive Music Releases

To counter the past several years's trend of declining album sales, the big retailers have often arranged exclusive releases.  These used to be an extra song or two on a mainstream release; today, they are often entire albums.  Next month, we'll all get underway with our holiday shopping in earnest.  To get some of these titles, you'll have to hit the standard brick & mortar big boxes (Best Buy, Target and Walmart).  Others you can snag when you duck in for overpriced coffee or chicken and dumplin's.  Here is a list to get you prepared for the music lovers on your shopping list.  Just click on the artist & title to link to the online webpage.  [Note: Target's website does not list their exclusives, so I can't help you with those.]

Aaron Tippin - He Believed (Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, May 6)
A collection of mostly previously issued songs, He Believed is Tippin's tribute to his father.

Bryan Adams - 11 (Walmart, May 13)
Canada's formal apology notwithstanding, Bryan Adams cranked out his eleventh studio album.  He dug deep to find an appropriate title, and thus 11 was born.

Frank Sinatra - Nothing but the Best (United States Post Service, May 13)
Not only did the Chairman of the Board get a stamp, the USPS gave him the kind of treatment only an artist of his caliber should receive.  For $16.99, you can get the compilation Nothing but the Best with an exclusive song ("I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter"), and a First Day of Issue Collector Cachet.  For $3.48, you can even buy a Sinatra CD mailer and send one for Christmas.  (Note: $3.48 just gets you the mailer; shipping is extra.)

Journey - Revelation (Walmart, June 3)
The last song ever played on The Sopranos was Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," and all of a sudden Journey became hotter than they had been since...maybe ever.  Walmart got in on the action and brought forth the band's first album with new lead singer Arnel Pineda.

Ricky Skaggs - The High Notes (Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, July 1)
Bluegrass versions of Skaggs's country hits, including "Highway 40 Blues" and "Honey (Open That Door)."  Because they weren't bluegrass enough.

Taylor Swift - Beautiful Eyes (Walmart, July 15)
Swift's eponymous debut was released at the end of 2006.  Since then, she has conquered MySpace and last year she released not a new album, but a deluxe edition of her first one.  She finally has a second album due this year, and to stoke the fires, she released this EP and DVD package.

Hannah Montana - The Hits Remixed (Walmart, August 19)
Was the title confusing?

Kenny Rogers - 50 Years (Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, August 26)
Nine big hits ("The Gambler" and "Coward of the County" among them) supplemented with three new recordings offer a survey of Rogers's 50 year music career.

In anticipation of the band's Black Ice release the following month, Walmart released this 1996 Spain concert film.  For those who have "gone Blu," there is a Blu Ray version available.

Sheryl Crow - Home for Christmas (Hallmark Gold Crown Stores, September 30)
Hallmark's annual Christmas album.  Crow's first.  Buy 3 cards, get $3 off.  You'll spend more on 3 cards than you'll save, but it works out if you're buying the cards and the CD anyway.

Amy Grant - Songs for Christmas (Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, September 30)
Grant has a wide release compilation, Christmas Collection, but has also put together this set for Cracker Barrel.

Nat "King" Cole - The Nat "King" Cole Holiday Collection
Julianne Hough - The Julianne Hough Holiday Collection (Target, October 12)
Target's annual Christmas EPs; one mainstream popular music, the other country.  The Nat Cole EP has reworked current vocalists into his recordings to create duets, whereas the Hough EP is all new material.

Sony Legacy released a box set with a 2-CD set containing both of Cash's Folsom sets in their entirety (including opening acts), as well as a documentary DVD and book for $40.  Fans who just want the music can save some coin and by the two CD's at Walmart.

Aretha Franklin - This Christmas (Borders, October 14)
According to the press release, this is Franklin's first ever Christmas album, which is hard to believe.  If you want to pay Santa some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, you first need to pay Borders.

AC/DC - Black Ice (Walmart, October 21)
For those who are about to rock, we...welcome you to Wal-Mart.  Give Walmart credit, though; they rolled out AC/DC in true Walmart style, complete with an accompanying exclusive Rock Band AC/DC Pack, DVD's, T-shirts, ballcaps and even doggie clothes.  CD is available in three different packages.

The Beatles - All Together Now DVD (Best Buy, October 21)
Go behind the scenes of Cirque de Soleil's Beatles show in this documentary DVD.

Carrie Underwood - Carnival Ride (Walmart, October 21)
Last year, Walmart re-issued Sugarland's Enjoy the Ride with a 5-track Christmas disc.  This year, they do the same with Underwood's multiplatinum Carnival Ride to ensure that it goes multiplatinumer.

Elton John - The Red Piano (Best Buy, October 28)
Sir Elton's live Red Piano show from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.  Best Buy gives you the choice of three different versions: 2 CD/2 DVD, 1 Blu Ray/2 CD or 3 LPs.  If you go vinyl, you get a one-time digital download of the entire album.

Like the Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison package, a more comprehensive set has been given a mass release.  This is a single disc distillation for fans who are curious to hear Hank sing "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain" but don't want to go all-in for the bigger box.

Organized to benefit the PEACE Initiative, this 16 track Christmas compilation brings together artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Sarah McLauchlan, Third Day and Vince Gill.  

The Police - Certifiable (Best Buy, November 11)
Like the Elton John Red Piano release, this is a live concert recording from The Police's final concert from their recent reunion tour.  Again, choose from 2 DVD/2 CD, 1 Blu Ray/2 CD or 3 LPs with digital download.

According to the description at walmart.com, this DVD clocks in at 156 minutes, but is not a straight concert DVD.  Rather, it is more of a tour scrapbook, following the tour behind the scenes and on stage.

Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy (Best Buy, November 23)
After nearly an entire decade, GNR are finally releasing the much touted Chinese Democracy album.  The lead single has stalled on radio, but that may not mean much to prospective album buyers.

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