• Long gone are the days when the search for that out-of-print LP required hours of thumbing vinyl in used-record shops, tingling to find that goofy, rare oddity for a lovelorn mix tape, or that missing link in the history of an artist you're really digging lately.

• I've got goose bumps - and an urge to pogo - from the time-traveling rush of two new books that wonderfully chronicle the magic age of punk and "post-punk," a faraway time when creative, disenfranchised youth on both sides of the pond were set free to try anything, encouraged by a vibrant, young record industry.

• This coming Tuesday Rhino Records offers an open microphone for a wild list of celebrities to show off their vocal chops. Opening with Scarlett Johansson's take on the George Gershwin classic "Summertime," Unexpected Dreams: Songs from the Stars also promises John C.

• This coming Tuesday serves up a warm musical gumbo from the Big Easy, a healing album from an all-star collective of displaced musicians calling themselves The New Orleans Social Club. The new CD, Sing Me Back Home, was recorded in a week's time in Austin, Texas, just six weeks after Hurricane Katrina bore down on their home city.

• With more than a dozen titles in its "Classic Albums: The Making of" DVD series, Eagle Vision has created the ultimate behind-the-scenes experience with the musicians themselves, with producers and other flies on the studio wall dissecting, and illuminating, the journey that created iconic rock albums, from Lou Reed's Transformer to Cream's Disraeli Gears.

• While Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Pink Floyd eternally captivate new waves of fans as they pass through the fondue pot of college mind expansion, this week Akron, Ohio's Devo is aggressively zeroing in on the blooming third eye of pre-teens.

• The Pretenders get the box-set treatment in Pirate Radio next week with 81 songs spread over four CDs, packed with demos, live tracks, and covers. The Rhino Records anthology also features a bonus DVD featuring 19 video clips going back to 1979, culled from performances on the UK's Top of the Pops, The Old Grey Whistle Test, and Later with Jools Holland, as well as a run through "The Adultress" on the 1980s sketch-comedy show Fridays.

• Lock up your children! Al Jourgensen is back with a new incarnation of his Revolting Cocks side project, a crazy runaway locomotive loaded with a wild who's who of guest stars. Released this coming Tuesday on his artist-controlled imprint, 13th Planet Records, Cocked & Loaded kicks off with "Fire Engine," a long-lost song written with Iggy Pop in the early 1980s.

• Need a fix of that old-time tent-revival rock-and-roll religion? Come join the sweat and grind manic art-rock of the Make-Up in its new live CD, and raise your hands high as the nervous spirit whips the Black Cat nightclub crowd into an epileptic frenzy.

• I've been waiting for a songwriter to succinctly sum up the universal sorrow of the Iraq war without pointing fingers like a self-righteous lunatic. So God bless Graham Parker, one of the world's greatest songwriting treasures, for getting it right in a new song that I think everyone can agree on: "2,000 Funerals.

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