Eno & Stipe Team On Spoken-Word Album

Music producer Kevin Laffey and disc jockey Liza Richardson may seem like an odd pair to be working on an album together. But consider this:

Amid all of the hyped-up albums being put together this year, Laffey and Richardson, a disc jockey at KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., have secretly hit on an intriguing musical idea that might well be the most original and unusual release of '98.

The fruits of the work, Man In The Moon: The Loving Tongue, due out on Warner Bros. by early next year, is designed to be a compilation album featuring artists performing spoken-word over music created specifically for the pieces by other musicians, including R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Ani DiFranco.

Having paired such renowned and yet diverging artists as Brian Eno and Stipe (who is reading from Samuel Delany's Dahlgren), co-producer Kevin Laffey said "the album is subtitled The Loving Tongue because all of the spoken-word pieces are romantic-erotic poetry and prose."

The Loving Tongue is the first volume in a planned series, said Laffey who began developing the concept with Richardson while he was working in A & R at Warner Bros. Richardson hosts a radio show on KCRW called "Man In The Moon," in which she mixes celebrity artists doing spoken-word on top of previously recorded instrumentals. "The difference between the compilation and (Richardson's) show is that on the album, the musical accompaniments are original and created for the pieces," Laffey said.

While some of the spoken word on The Loving Tongue, such as Stipe's Delany excerpt, are by other authors, Laffey added that for the most part the pieces are written by the artists themselves.

Among those looking to come up with an original score for a reading is Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. "We're going to be doing a background track for John Cale who's doing spoken word," said the singer/guitarist for Wilco. "I've got to get together with him and figure out what kind of music we want to put behind this recipe he's going to read -- it sounds pretty arty."

In addition to the Wilco/Cale and Eno/Stipe pairings, confirmed collaborators include: Daniel Lanois (whose production credits include Luscious Jackson, Peter Gabriel and U2) with Ani DiFranco; Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon; Angelo Badalamenti (who provided the music for David Lynch's Twin Peaks) and The Flaming Lips; Ronnie Size with Soul Coughing; and Leslie Winer with Spring Heel Jack.

Poet Todd Colby and William Orbit are also contributing to the disc. "It's really been a labor of love," said Laffey, who reports that the album has been over a year in the making and is now set for an early '98 release on Warner Brothers Records.