New Releases Tuesday: Missy Elliot, Fountains of Wayne, George Strait

Cristina Everett

Missy Elliott, “The Cookbook” — No female rap artist parallels the success of Missy Elliott (born Melissa Arnette Elliott), who has the titles of R’B singer, songwriter, rapper, producer and record label executive under her belt. She began her career in a local singing group called Sista. Elliott then turned her concentration to songwriting and producing with longtime producer and collaborator, Timbaland. Elliott broke into the music industry in 1997 with her first album, “Supa Dupa Fly,” which eventually went platinum. In 1999, Elliott returned to the music scene with her highly anticipated follow-up album, “Da Real World,” which teamed her with rap artist Eminem, among others. After appearing in TV advertisements for Gap and Sprite, Elliot began to market herself as not just a rapper, but an icon. Beginning in 2001, Elliott released “Miss E…So Addictive,” “Under Construction” and “This Is Not a Test!” all within a year of one another. Elliott’s newest album, “The Cookbook,” shows off her patented one-liners in a mixture of old-school rhythms and space-bass from collaborators the Neptunes. The new album also features collaborations with Ciara, Mary J. Blige, Tweet and Mike Jones.

Fountains of Wayne, “Out of State Plates” — This New York City-based band was created by the singer/songwriter duo of Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood. The two teamed up in 1986 while in college and formed several short-lived bands that eventually fell through. After Schlesinger and Collingwood went their separate ways for several years, the two reunited in 1996 and formed Fountains of Wayne, named after a New Jersey gift shop. That same year, Fountains of Wayne distributed its self-titled album, and Schlesinger wrote the title song for Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, “That Thing You Do!” which went on to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. Fountains of Wayne continued its success with the release of “Utopia Parkway” in 1999 and “Welcome Interstate Managers” in 2003, in which the band encountered its biggest success with the single, “Stacy’s Mom.” Now fans of Fountains of Wayne can hear the long-awaited two-CD collection of unreleased tracks that have been recorded over the span of the band’s career. “Out of State Plates” illustrates a wide range of pop styles that vary from studio productions, to home demos and intricate arrangements, to one-take acoustic performances. The album also features the band’s version of the Britney Spears’ hit “Baby One More Time,” a cult favorite.

George Strait, “Somewhere Down in Texas” — George Strait surfaced in the early 1980s as a singer who drew inspiration from the honky-tonk and Western swing traditions of country music. In 1979, one of Strait’s friends contacted MCA Records, who sent someone to Texas to hear him perform. Strait’s performance swayed the company, which signed him in 1980. Strait’s music climbed the charts consistently throughout the 1980s, and both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association named Strait “Entertainer of the Year” in 1989. In 1992, Strait dabbled in film, appearing in the lead role of the movie, “Pure Country.” He then released “Strait Out of the Box,” a four-disc box set career retrospective that became one of the five biggest-selling box sets in country music history. Soon after, he produced a handful of albums, including “Blue Clear Sky,” “The Road Less Traveled,” and “Honkytonkville.” On the new album, Strait incorporates some semiautobiographical lyrics and songwriting, and a duet with Lee Ann Womack.

— Compiled by

Cristina Everett