Music Article

August Albums

Gang of Four, Faith Hill, and Busta Rhymes are some of the artists releasing records this month

EARTH, WIND & FIRE
Illumination

Will.i.am helped these R&B vets get funky on ''Lovely People''; OutKast's Big Boi and Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland contributed to ''This Is How I Feel''; and Floetry added flow to ''Elevated.'' Singer Philip Bailey says the right collaborators were key: ''It wouldn't have made sense to team up with 50 Cent, would it?''
MOST LIKELY TO. . . please those who like their funk spiritual, nonscatological, and 50 Cent-free. (AUG. 2)

RICK JAMES
I'm Rick James Forever

The title begs to be amended with a Chappelle-ean ''bitch,'' but this is a stately set James recorded before he died last August, with Teena Marie, Johnny Gill, and his daughter Ty James. ''It's a description of his life through music,'' says James the younger. ''It's funky, alternative, R&B, jazz — a wide range.'' Look for Ty's solo debut around the same time, featuring ''So High,'' an update of Dad's classic ''Mary Jane.''
MOST LIKELY TO. . .get ''Super Freak'' stuck in your head yet again. (AUG. 2)

SWITCHFOOT
Nothing Is Sound

Most bands on tour can't find time to write a postcard. Switchfoot recorded the follow-up to their 2003 smash, The Beautiful Letdown, on the road. ''I'd write late at night and we'd play it the next day in our dressing room,'' says frontman Jon Foreman. ''Somehow, in the end, it all fit together.'' Expect angsty lyrics, soaring anthems, and big sales.
MOST LIKELY TO. . .make Creed want to reform and reclaim their turf. (AUG. 16)

OL' DIRTY BASTARD
A Son Unique

When he died, ODB was very close to completing his hotly anticipated post-prison opus. ''I was definitely happy about ODB's work ethic,'' says Damon Dash, head of DDMG, which is releasing the disc. With the RZA, Ghostface, Missy Elliott, DJ Premier, and the Neptunes collaborating with the name-changing rapper, Dash says, ''I think it's his best work. A damn-near classic.''
MOST LIKELY TO. . .be the most exciting posthumous release of the year. (AUG. 16)

JOHN VANDERSLICE
Pixel Revolt

The former MK Ultra frontman is known for inhabiting other skins via his songs (Vietnam vet, drug mule, Romantic-era poet), but this time he's gone more personal. ''Someone who I deeply cared about broke my heart,'' he says. ''When something happens to you, you turn inwards. You can't help it.'' Still, the gifted folk-popper isn't entirely reformed: Joan Crawford and chess champ Garry Kasparov, among others, get shout-outs.
MOST LIKELY TO. . .score your next breakup. (AUG. 23)

GANG OF FOUR
Still Untitled

With their post-punk sound all the rage, there's no better time to get the Gang back together. The band's double-disc reunion includes new recordings of '80s cuts like ''To Hell With Poverty.'' ''As epochal as Entertainment! was, the drums sounded like wet cardboard,'' says drummer Hugo Burnham. ''This allowed us to re-create the live sound.'' There are also remixes by followers like the Futureheads. Says Burnham of Gang's plethora of progeny: ''They're making a lot more money than we ever did. And they're a lot skinnier.''
MOST LIKELY TO. . .rip off Gang of Four (but at least they have an excuse!). (AUG. 30)

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