Mekons Multimedia "Greatest Hits" Collection

Cover art from cool older Mekons' album.

The members of the Mekons are a selfless bunch. Sure, they could scratch

and scrape in a vain effort to attain personal satisfaction and individual

acclaim, but that's just not how they work. In a 20-year career that has been

rife with label fiascoes, dead-ends, unreleased albums, and several legendary

ones that somehow did reach the shelves ( The Mekons Rock 'n' Roll ,

Retreat From Memphis for starters), the restlessly creative group has

redefined rock, punk, country, and now, multimedia. Mekons United is

the name of a recent CD/book compilation uniting the music, writing and artwork

of the various band members, but really it's more of an elaborate catalog for

the Mekon art exhibit currently hanging at the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland,

Florida. The 70-minute CD is a sometimes scattershot sampling of the band's

sprawling range, while the book slaps together color reproductions of paintings

by various band members, next to essays from Lester Bangs and Greil Marcus and

excerpts from Living In Sin , their self-described collaborative

"novel-in-progress." For fans of the Mekons this is a (near) greatest hits

package and career retrospective all in one; for neophytes, it is a sometimes

daunting look at the artistic breadth of a band that does more than just play

the rock and roll. According to sources, the Mekons plan to take their exhibit

on the road to London next year, with a possible "tour" of a few U.S. cities

still in the talking stages.