As usual, Music Row is preparing to unleash a torrent of superstar albums over the next three months to fuel the holiday-shopping frenzy. Among the sparkling new offerings are Rascal Flatts' first greatest hits package, Brad Paisley's first instrumental CD, Alabama crooner Randy Owen's first solo outing and Lee Ann Womack's first studio album in three years.
This month has already seen the release of Jessica Simpson's country debut project, Do You Know (Epic/Columbia Nashville), which will debut at No. 1 this week on Billboard's country albums chart, and Hootie & the Blowfish vocalist Darius Rucker's first solo album, a country project titled Learn to Live (Capitol). Other recent arrivals include Hal Ketchum's Father Time (Curb), former American Idol contestant Kristy Lee Cook's Why Wait (19 Recordings/Arista Nashville) and the Eli Young Band's Jet Black & Jealous (Universal Records South).
The big one to watch for, of course, is Taylor Swift's sophomore album, Fearless. It's due in early November. Then there are a Kenny Chesney collection in two separate editions and fresh lyrical dispatches from Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Billy Currington and Billy Ray Cyrus. Tim McGraw will be raising his hand as well with his third greatest hits anthology.
In a later story, CMT.com will announce the titles and release dates of holiday albums from Faith Hill, George Strait, Julianne Hough, Elvis Presley (and "friends"), Fernando Ortega and Larry the Cable Guy.
Label sources emphasize that release dates may change.
Here is the list of major label country albums for the fall:
Sept. 23: Randy Rogers Band, Randy Rogers Band (Mercury Nashville)
Sept. 30: Craig Morgan, Greatest Hits (Broken Bow); Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler (19 Recordings/BNA Records)
Oct. 7: Big & Rich, Big & Rich Super Galactic Fan Pack 2, CD and DVD (Warner Bros.); Merle Haggard, 20 Hits, Volume 2 (Curb); Tim McGraw, Greatest Hits, Volume 3 (Curb)
Oct. 14: Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun, deluxe edition (Blue Chair/BNA); Billy Currington, Little Bit of Everything (Mercury Nashville); Little Big Town, A Place to Land, re-release of original album with four new tracks (Capitol); John Michael Montgomery, Time Flies (Stringtown)
Oct. 21: Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun, standard edition (Blue Chair/BNA); Hank III, Damn Right Rebel Proud (Sidewalk); Craig Morgan, That's Why (BNA); Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy (MCA Nashville)
Oct. 28: Toby Keith, That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy (Show Dog); Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits, Volume 1 (Lyric Street)
Nov. 4: Randy Owen, One on One (Broken Bow); Brad Paisley, Play (Arista Nashville)
Nov. 11: Taylor Swift, Fearless (Big Machine)
Nov. 18: Lee Brice, Picture of Me (Curb); Randy Houser, Anything Goes (Universal Records South)
Nov. 25: Trace Adkins, title to be announced (Capitol); Patti Page, Greatest Hits Live and Best Country Songs (Curb)
Although the exact date has not been announced, a late fall release is expected for Billy Ray Cyrus's Back to Tennessee (Walt Disney Records/Lyric Street Records).