The autumn season kicks off with new albums from Gomez, Ocean Colour Scene and Arab Strap. Also on 13 September is a battle of the collaborations. Death In Vegas's The Contino Sessions (Concrete) has guest vocals from Iggy Pop, Bobby Gillespie and Jim Reid. All Seeing I's Pickled Eggs & Sherbert (FFRR) is a who's who of Sheffield pop: Jarvis Cocker, Stephen Jones from BabyBird and the Human League's Phil Oakey all sing along. But trumping them both is Tom Jones's duets album, Reload (Gut), out on 27 September. Where else will you hear new material from Portishead, Stereophonics, the Cardigans, Natalie Imbruglia, Robbie Williams, Cerys Matth-ews and more on one record?
Other artists due to release albums this month are Sting, Tori Amos, Ben Harper, Leftfield and Clinton, who are Cornershop's disco incarnation. Everything But the Girl's album, out on 27 September, will be followed by a November tour. Supergrass's album, due on 20 September, precedes an October tour. And on 13 September, Iggy Pop presents Avenue B. The album, promises Virgin, "finds Iggy in a reflective, post-50 mood". Scary.
Moving on to October, there is the tricksily titled hours ... (Virgin) from Iggy's old buddy David Bowie and a new album from the Pet Shop Boys, who begin a national arena tour at Glasgow's Clyde Auditorium on 4 December. Mel C's solo album, Northern Star (Virgin), comes out on 18 October. James aim to consolidate the success of last year's chart-topping greatest hits album with the optimistic Millionaires (Mercury) on 11 October. A week later the Charlatans release Us & Us Only (Universal), the first full album completed since the death of their organist, Rob Collins.
The first superstar show of the season is on Thursday, when Whitney Houston shimmies along to Sheffield Arena. On the arena circuit in October are Cher, Texas, Bryan Adams and Def Leppard. Possibly more interesting will be tours by the Beta Band, starting on 20 September, and Lyle Lovett, starting on the 29th. Suede, Travis, Skunk Anansie, Beth Orton, Mogwai, Ocean Colour Scene and the Longpigs tour in October.
At the top of the Long-Awaited Returns list is Kevin Rowland, once seen in Dexy's Midnight Runners, now seen in dresses. On 4 October, he releases My Beauty (Creation), a covers album that includes "Daydream Believer", "The Long And Winding Road" and "You'll Never Walk Alone". On 18 October, the Clash's Joe Strummer releases Rock Art and the X-Ray Style (Mercury), and begins a tour on the same day. Also on 18 October comes Madness's Wonderful (Virgin), the first new studio album from the full Nutty Boys line-up in 14 years. Culture CIub have worked faster. There's a gap of just 13 and a half years between their new album, due in November, and their last one.
If these albums have you looking back at the 1980s through rose-tinted, red-framed glasses, you can see Culture Club, supported by Belinda Carlisle, Heaven 17 and Bananarama, on an arena tour in December. Madness's arena tour concludes at Wembley Arena on 23 December and Blondie's opens at that venue on 7 November.
Album release schedules get vague and provisional in November, but records are due from the Foo Fighters, Simply Red, Will Smith and Kelle Bryan, the latest woman to be chucked out of Eternal. The Fun Lovin' Criminals' easy-listening album, Mimosa (Chrysalis), should be released on 15 November, and a UK tour will follow. The Chemical Brothers and the Cranberries also begin tours in November, while in December, James tour with Cast and this year's Welsh sensations go head to head: the Stereophonics set off from Glasgow SECC on the third; Catatonia start there two days later.
However, December's highest profile tour will be that of the Spice Girls. If they release a Christmas single, too, try not to be too surprised.