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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Embarrassed country star Tim McGraw on Tuesday accused his label of releasing an unauthorized hits collection in order to delay his plans to jump to a new home.
"Greatest Hits 3" went on sale last Tuesday, a little over two years after Curb Records released "Greatest Hits 2." Earlier this year, Curb released a "limited edition" package of his first two hits albums.
McGraw said in a statement that he had wanted to release a studio album that he has been working on for over a year, but the Nashville-based label opted to release "Greatest Hits 3" in order to keep him at the label a little longer.
"I had no involvement in the creation or presentation of this record," he said. "Sure I love the songs and I don't want to take anything away from all the creative people who were a part of making those records. But the whole concept is an embarrassment to me as an artist. In the spirit of an election year, I would simply say to my fans 'I'm Tim McGraw and I don't approve their message.'"
A spokeswoman for McGraw said he has "probably one or two" studio albums left on his contract, and that "one could assume" he would then jump to a new label. He hoped to release a studio album early next year, although nothing was fixed, she said.
She added that McGraw has "a history of discontent" at Curb, saying that the previous hits albums were also released at times McGraw would have preferred to release new material.
"Greatest Hits 2," released in March 2006, went on to sell 2.2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Since then, McGraw has issued just one studio album, "Let It Go," which debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. pop chart in April 2007 and has sold 1.4 million copies to date. Curb released his first hits set in 2000; that has sold 5.9 million copies.
A Curb statement did not address McGraw's allegations, and instead indicated that his concerns were more commercial than artistic, saying "We share Tim McGraw's disappointment with the first week's sales levels" in a tough economic climate. Sales data will be published on Wednesday. The label is run by veteran music impresario Mike Curb, a one-time state politician in California.
Curb Records was engaged in a bitter legal dispute with another act, LeAnn Rimes, earlier this decade. After she sought to nullify her contract in 2000, Curb released a studio album the following year without her approval. As with McGraw, she issued an apologetic statement distancing herself from the album. The underlying lawsuit, part of a messy family dispute, was resolved in Curb's favor.
Another Curb artist, Lyle Lovett, said earlier this year that he had "never made a dime" from album sales during his two-decade career, although it was not clear if he had sold enough albums to pay back his advance from Curb.
Editing by Jill Serjeant