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Anne Murray puts on a seasonal market blitz

With three new releases on EMI Canada due this month, Anne Murray is looking for an end to her recent chart hiatus.

A Murray hits package, The Best ... So Far, is being released here Oct. 18 followed by the Christmas collection Best Of The Season Oct. 25 and then by the 64-track, three-CD/three-cassette career retrospective Now & Forever Nov. 1.

Of the three, only The Best ... So Far is scheduled for release in the United States, by SBK/EMI. The album, due out Nov. 29 in the United States, features 19 Murray hits, including Snowbird, Danny's Song, Love Song, You Won't See Me and You Needed Me, as well as a previously unreleased track, Over You.

Murray parted with Liberty Records Nashville in 1991 and currently is signed to EMI Music Canada, which, as Capitol Records Canada, had first signed her in 1969.

The 25-track Best Of The Season consists of Murray's two previous seasonal albums, Christmas Wishes (1981) and Anne Murray Christmas (1988). Additionally, there's the title track of her 1993 album The Season Will Never Grow Old, previously only available from Hallmark by mail order.

Despite her recent lack of chart success, Murray remains a potent seller. According to Roger Bartel, marketing manager at EMI Music Canada, her 1993 album Croonin', which did chart in Canada, sold 180,000 units here. In the United States, the album was released first by SBK Records, selling 101,000 units, according to SoundScan, and is now being sold on television by Heartland Music.

Leonard Rambeau, president of the singer's management firm, Balmur Ltd. here, says that Murray's 1992 Reader's Digest package, Greatest Hits And Performances, has chalked up sales of 400,000 units to date in North America. Her Heartland Music TV-advertised package The Very Best Of Anne Murray has sold 750,000 units since its release in 1992, he says.

Between 1970, when her single Snowbird soared up Billboard's Hot 100, and the emergence of Bryan Adams in the mid-'80s, Murray reigned unrivaled over Canadian pop music. She has received four Grammy awards and 19 Juno awards. In 1993 she was inducted into the Canadian Juno Hall Of Fame.

Murray's remarkable 29-year career is presented superbly in Now & Forever. The boxed set includes material from Murray's 29 albums since 1969 as well as studio outtakes, unreleased tracks and concert performances.

Work on the project began last May, when Murray took tapes of her albums with her on vacation in Florida.