Music industry trumpets 1994

Uni Distribution will soon roll out albums by Hole, Rodney Crowell, Dr. John and Boston, while Sony plans a Mariah Carey holiday album and a collection from Luther Vandross, featuring such songs as “The Impossible Dream”– all among the highlights of the final product presentations at the 36th annual National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers convention.

Tuesday’s closing sessions of one of the quietest NARM conventions in years offered news about some of the biggest albums for the next nine months.

Young named prexy

In other convention business, Wherehouse entertainment CEO Scott Young was named president of NARM for 1994-95. He succeeds Handleman Co. chairman Steve Strome. The org named Virgin Records as label of the year, while Polygram group distribution was tapped as distributor of the year.

NARM also tapped Camelot Music of North Canton, Ohio, as its large retailer of the year. Indie retailer of the year in the single-store category was George’s Music Room of Chicago.

Uni, the distribution arm of the MCA empire, started the Tuesday morning session with a live performance by Rodney Crowell, whose “Let the Picture Paint Itself” will hit stores May 10, courtesy of MCA Nashville.

Geffen Records’ big news was the major-label debut of Hole, fronted by Courtney Love, the wife of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. The band will bow April 12 with “Violet.”

Dr. John will release a GRP Records album at the end of this month. The New Orleans favorite performed at the convention, offering his unique interpretation of Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).”

MCA Records chimed in with news of albums from Boston, Live, Heavy D & the Boyz, Mary J. Blige, Lyle Lovett, Fine Young Cannibals and a boxed set from the Who, “Happy Jack,” all due out by year’s end.

Sony Music closed out the product presentations Tuesday afternoon. Columbia Records flew a small blimp through the San Francisco Marriott auditorium to tout the April 5 release of “The Division Bell,” Pink Floyd’s first new studio album in seven years.

Also on the Columbia ’94 release sked are albums from Shawn Colvin, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Steve Perry, Sophie B. Hawkins and the alter ego of Branford Marsalis, Buckshot Le Fonque, who will hit in June with “Breakfast at Denny’s.”

Connick’s roots

Harry Connick Jr., known for his big-band style of crooning, will offer a tribute to his New Orleans funk/R&B roots on a yet untitled album set for June release. The previewed cuts revealed a funkified, rock pulse to the pop music, miles removed from the singer/pianist’s previous style.

Mariah Carey will bow in the fall with her first holiday album; a video presentation offered a snip of “Silent Night.” Col also set May 17 for the rollout of Julio Iglesias’ “Crazy,” his take on Patsy Cline.

Boxed-set retrospectives are due from Louis Armstrong, Mountain (which will reunite and offer several new cuts, with a tour to follow), Kansas, Carole King and Santana.

Alice Cooper will team with Marvel Comics for a comic book version of his album “The Last Temptation,” set for release May 31. Sony’s Epic label will also serve albums by Shabba Ranks, the Indigo Girls, the hot new October Project and Luther Vandross, doing such standards as “Love the One You’re With,””Hello, “”Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” and “Endless Love.”