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Fall Music Preview: Comebacks

Susanna Hoffs, the Monkees, Donovan, and more break their silence with new albums coming out this fall

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Susanna Hoffs
Susanna Hoffs, Oct. 7

As one of the Bangles, the group that broke out of L.A.’s so-called Paisley Underground to become hitmakers of the mid-’80s, it was the doe-eyed Susanna Hoffs who kept the quartet grounded in pop, lending her dulcet chops to their 1986 Prince-penned smash ”Manic Monday.”

After their 1989 breakup, and following a largely unnoticed solo debut, 1991’s When You’re a Boy, she lay low for a few years, married TV producer Jay Roach, and gave birth to a son, Jackson, 19 months. Hoffs, 37, thinks of her eponymous new release as a truer reflection of her muse: ”On […Boy] I felt a lot of pressure to live up to the Bangles’ success. It wasn’t the right mind-set to be in to make an artistic statement. This one feels like the real me.”

Susanna Hoffs, which she cowrote mostly with David Baerwald and recorded with a plethora of L.A. studio hands, is a relatively low-key affair, big on mid-tempo ballads. The record’s first single (deservedly so) is a cover of the Lightning Seeds’ ”All I Want.” There’s also a spot-on remake of Lulu’s ”To Sir With Love” and, less explicably, a take on Stealers Wheel’s ”Stuck in the Middle.”

”I know my record’s coming out at a time when there are a lot of angry, grungier things,” Hoffs says, ”but I just wanted to make a truthful album.” Her ultralight touch does make her a throat lozenge in a world of jagged little pills. Still, this one faces long odds. Last Time Out When You’re a Boy, 70,000 copies sold Forecast Better


Hey, hey! The original Monkees — Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, and the 20-years-absent Michael Nesmith — have reunited on the 30th anniversary of the TV show to record Justus (Oct. 15), which features 12 original songs. Talking Heads Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth — who face a lawsuit from erstwhile frontman David Byrne over their new name, the Heads — are releasing the smarmily titled No Talking, Just Heads (Oct. 8), on which they provide the genre-hopping backup for a hand-picked lineup of singers and lyricists including Debbie Harry, Ed Kowalczyk (Live), Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes), and Shaun Ryder (Black Grape). American Recordings kingpin Rick Rubin perpetrates another bizarre artist-producer collaboration, this time in the resurrection of ’60s poster boy and mystic psych-folk balladeer Donovan. The result, Sutras (Oct. 15), is described by the singer-songwriter as ”a work of love and peace” (what else?). Journey, who came to define suburbia-driven ’80s rock with their reign over the AOR airwaves and a string of enormously popular stadium-size tours, will make their return, after a 10-year absence, with Trial by Fire (Oct. 22).

Fall Music Preview written by Matt Diehl, Mike Flaherty, Steve Futterman, Alanna Nash, Tom Sinclair, Ethan Smith, Russ Spencer, and Chris Willman