Cover Story

HAVE A NICE YEAR

AN ALBUM AND CONCERT GUIDE A BEATLES REUNION, A NEW R.E.M. DISC, AND MUPPETS UNPLUGGED!

Now that we've whetted your appetite, here's a list of music events for the rest of '94 that, depending on your tastes, might get you salivating. We've awarded each of them the number of smiley faces equivalent to the level of anticipation (see Happy Meter below). Frank Sinatra A second volume of Duets, with likely contributions from Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, and Lyle Lovett. *****

Lyle Lovett A new album in May plus last year's marriage to a certain big- haired movie queen equals hot. *****

Natalie Merchant First solo album, due this fall, since 10,000 Maniacs breakup; Maniacs' MTV Unplugged fuels interest. *****

Dr. Dre and Ice Cube Former N.W.A members and multiplatinum solo acts team up for first duet album, Helter Skelter, due this summer. *****

R.E.M.Yet another disc, but with the dangling carrot of their first U.S. tour in five years. ****

Bonnie Raitt The queen of tasteful adult-rock releases Longing in Their Hearts next month, then goes on a summer tour. ****

Lollapalooza '94 Last year's was considered a comedown from previous highs; still, the expected bill of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, and the Breeders raises expectations. ****

Rolling Stones Remember them? ''Satisfaction''? ''Miss You''? Album out in June; August-to-October stadium tour to follow. ****

Meat Loaf He's conquered the charts again; will he do the same in arenas? Can you say Hellzapoppin? ****

Beatles ''Reuniting'' to do ''background music'' for a ''documentary.'' Can you say ''inevitable letdown''? Upped a notch for impending media fervor. ****

The Muppets You laugh, but can you resist a summer album called Kermit Unpigged? ****

Slayer First new studio album by thrash-metal kings in four years, due in the summer. ***

Kiss All-star tribute disc in April, with Lenny Kravitz, the Gin Blossoms, Garth Brooks, and others honoring the most unlikely influential band of our time. ***

Public Enemy New summer album. But are they too old-school by now? ***

Boston First release since 1986 (due in April) from world's most anal- retentive pop star, Tom Scholz; could be '94's Meat Loaf. ***

TLC New record and tour by baby sisters (to wiser older siblings Salt 'N' Pepa) of female rap. ***

Traffic Reunion tour and album (first in 20 years) from Steve Winwood's classic-rock band. ***

Tom Petty Second solo record, following up currently successful greatest-hits package. ***

Yanni Summer tour with a handpicked symphony orchestra (yow!), plus an album next month. ***

Anita Baker In light of new-jack competition, will anyone care about her first album since 1990? **

Fleetwood Mac Will anybody give a tusk about an album without Stevie Nicks? *

Phil Collins Summer tour to accompany his less-than-blockbuster Both Sides. *

Edie Brickell First album without the New Bohemians, and produced by hubby Paul Simon, is due in the fall. What you were. *

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