In His Own Words Indeed: Twenty-two-year-old Shaffer C. Smith -- a.k.a. Ne-Yo -- is proving his penchant for collaborations by hooking up with Rihanna, Ghostface and LL Cool J. But his debut record, In My Own Words, is practically devoid of any guest spots; the only one is with Peedi Crakk on the first track, "Stay." Def Jam is amped for the release nevertheless; it's already shipped 700,000 copies of In My Own Words to stores. Tracks include "Let Me Get This Right," "It Just Ain't Right" and "Sign Me Up."
Punk Partners: Hawthorne Heights' too-good-to-be-true 2005 was sidetracked when tour partners Bayside were involved in a devastating van crash that claimed the life of drummer John "Beatz" Holohan and critically injured two other people from the Bayside camp. Both bands' new albums drop this week (and on the same label, Victory).
While Hawthorne Heights are offering bonus content on their MySpace site, their If Only You Were Lonely is frill-free; you'll have to be content with songs like "Where Can I Stab Myself in the Ears" and "We Are So Last Year." Bayside, on the other hand, stuff their Bayside Acoustic concert CD with a DVD featuring the entire Chicago performance, which was the last gig on their fateful tour. They also chip in with a couple of unreleased songs plus covers of Elliott Smith's "Baby Britain" and Smoking Popes' "Megan," for which singer Josh Caterer guested.
And speaking of the Popes, they're copying Bayside with their At Metro live disc, also released through Victory and also containing a DVD of the respective concert, which was also staged in Chicago. Playing together for the first time since 1998, the band hustles through "Ramblin' Rose," "Off My Mind," "Before I'm Gone" and other smoking selections.
Solid as a Rock: There doesn't seem to be much logic behind Kid Rock putting quotes in the title of his album 'Live' Trucker, as if to suggest that the disc isn't really a concert release (then again -- and this is really getting into semantics -- is any concert recording really "live"? After all, it's already happened, right? Maybe that's what he means). The 13 songs truly were recorded at different venues in and near his Detroit hometown, and his Web site proclaims that they're so good they'll graduate the album to "a seminal lineage that includes the MC5's Kick Out the Jams, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band's 'Live' Bullet (note the single quotes, people) and Kiss Alive!" Fans of the Son of Detroit will delight at tracks featuring former Twisted Brown Trucker Band member Uncle Kracker and the late Joe C, plus, oddly enough, country star Gretchen Wilson (on a duet of "Picture").
Bizzy Wants Revenge: We just heard from Bizzy Bone when he spat Speaking in Tongues in September, but the wacky spiritual rapper has already hit the mic again for Thugs Revenge. Bad Azz comes along for the ride on "Caught Up," while Bizzy hooks up with his friend Mr. Capone-E on "Homies" and Mr. Criminal chimes in on "Rollin' With Hi Power." Most exciting to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fans, though, will be hearing the group get back together for "Ridin' in the Streets." Ridin' with a vengeance, that is.
Prodigy Deluxe: It took forever for the Prodigy to release 2004's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned -- their first studio disc in five years -- and it's taken a while for Their Law - The Singles 1990-2005 to hit shelves, too. But maybe this one was worth the wait: The deluxe double-disc is stacked with 30 tracks, including three unreleased songs and a new remix of "Under My Wheels," plus a chunky, 50-page booklet. The same-named DVD, also dropping this week, has videos for "Smack My Bitch Up" and "Firestarter," as well as concert footage from '90s gigs at Red Square in Moscow and elsewhere.
Elvis Costello, War Criminal?: You probably know the Hague as the place where global villains are tried, but a concert venue? Perhaps in an effort to keep Slobodan Milosevic company (why else?), Elvis Costello performed with the 52-piece Metropole Orkest for My Flame Burns Blue. In addition to revamped Costello classics like "Almost Blue" and "Watching the Detectives," he laces 9/11-related lyrics into Charles Mingus' "Hora Decubitus" (the jazz great's widow gave Costello permission to do so) and Billy Strayhorn's last song, "Blood Count." If that's not enough, there's a bonus disc featuring "Il Sogno," a classic composition that was used for Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Song Title of the Week:
"I Want to Stroll Over Heaven With You" - Alan Jackson's Precious Memories
Four Guitars' Live at Luxx: Say what you will about Sonic Youth, but one thing's for sure: Their albums always have good stories behind them. What's coming out this week is actually a joint project between Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Wilco's Nels Cline and New York improviser Carlos Giffoni. The 40-minute experimental composition was tracked in August 2001 at a Brooklyn venue briefly owned by the four avant-garde guitarists, who create "moments of tension, peace, violence" and "psychedelic tunnels of sound echo through endless guitar lines." Rare indeed.
Say Anything's Say Anything ... Is a Real Boy and Latterman's Turn Up the Punk We'll Be Singing: When all else fails, re-release. So say Say Anything with the reissue of their debut record, which came out in 2004 on Doghouse but is so good, according to J Records, that it should be restocked in stores. The touched-up version is saddled with a seven-song bonus disc featuring original demos, fresh takes on old songs and the inimitable "I Will Never Write an Obligatory Song About Being on the Road and Missing Someone." On a similar note, Long Island, New York, punks Latterman are putting their still-recent first record out again with remastered sound and new artwork. But alas, while they won't have a major-label push à la Say Anything, two indie labels -- Deep Elm and Rok Lok -- are joining forces to co-release Turn Up the Punk We'll Be Singing.
Trespassers William's Having and Nine Black Alps' Everything Is: Is there a better person for lesser-known bands to turn to than a big-name producer? Trespassers William enlisted Flaming Lips knob-twiddler Dave Fridmann for their second record, Having. In anticipation of the release, the band released an exclusive live session through iTunes, during which TW played two unreleased tracks. Similarly, Nine Black Alps linked up with Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith) for their first outing, Everything Is, the enhanced version of which comes with a video for the single "Shot Down." In a blaze of glory, they hope.
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
- Don Ellis - Pieces of Eight (two CDs; Wounded Bird)
- Herbie Hancock - The Essential Herbie Hancock (two CDs; Columbia/Legacy)
- Shirley Horn - Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz - Radio Rebroadcast (The Jazz Alliance)
- Lynyrd Skynyrd - Family (Geffen) and Gimme Back My Bullets - Deluxe Edition (two CDs; Hip-O)
- Bob Marley and the Wailers - One Love at Studio One 1964-1966 (two CDs; Heartbeat/Rounder)
- Laura Pausini - Live in Paris 05 (limited edition with bonus DVD; Warner Latina)
- Lee Perry - Dubstrumentals (Trojan)
- Elvis Presley - Country, Inspirational and Rock (BMG Strategic Marketing)
- Say Anything - Say Anything ... Is a Real Boy (two CDs; J)
- Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue (Fuel 2000)
- Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 (Columbia)
- Ray Stevens - Box Set (three CDs; Curb)
- The Marshall Tucker Band - Where a Country Boy Belongs (two CDs; Shout! Factory)
- Johnny Winter - An Introduction to Johnny Winter (Fuel 2000)
- ZZ Top - Fandango! and Tres Hombres (Rhino)
- Various artists - Atlas Blues Explosion (Empire Musicwerks)
- Various artists - Another Lost Decade: The '80s - Hard to Find Hits (Time Life)
- Various artists - Hotel Chill (two-CD digipak; Water)
- Various artists - "Ghostbusters" soundtrack (Arista)
- Various artists - "Rocky IV" soundtrack (Volcano)
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