· Epic Records has announced the debut of a new artist-owned "boutique" label under its umbrella, as well as the catalog restoration of one of the most enigmatic musical entities of the 1980s - Matt Johnson of The The, reintroduced to the world with his new Lazarus Records imprint.
In advance of July's enhanced reissue of 1983's Soul Mining, 1986's Infected, 1989's Mind Bomb, and 1993's Dusk albums, this Tuesday the label releases 45 RPM: The Singles of The The. Featuring a first disc of 15 singles and a second disc of rarities, the collection salutes the infectious post-punk vision of Johnson as he produces Armageddon musings in Thatcher-era Britain. Highlights include a cover of Hank Williams' "I Saw the Light" and guests Johnny Marr of The Smiths, Anne Dudley of The Art of Noise, David Palmer of ABC, Sinead O'Connor, and Neneh Cherry.
· Speaking of covers, this Tuesday brings Bryan Ferry's new Frantic album on the Virgin label, featuring three Bob Dylan songs alongside stunning new tracks with guests Brian Eno, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, and guitarist Chris Spedding. The fantastic new album from the Roxy Music vocalist is his first solo work since 1994, a shimmering, lush, and sexy gem as he's reunited with Avalon producer Rhett Davies. One of the many perfect tracks is his take on Dylan's "Don't Think Twice," stripped down to simply Ferry's voice and piano. This perfect Sunday-morning album is highly recommended.
· The ultra-classy Varese Sarabande label is showing its silly side this week with a giggle-filled collection of one-hit wonders and knucklehead nuggets called 25 All-Time Novelty Hits. A rarity today, the "novelty" record was a mainstay of radio from the 1950s to the 1970s, and this collection is simply one of the best I've seen, featuring not only classic standards but many rare ones like "Yogi" by Ivy Three, "Got a Match" by The Daddy-O's, and "Juanita Banana" by The Peels - all available on CD for the first time. Other highlights include Benny Bell's "Shaving Cream," Larry Groce's "Junk Food Junkie," and The Randells' "Martian Hop."
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomes Marc Anthony on Friday, Bryan Adams on Monday, and Celine Dion on Tuesday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien hosts Puff Daddy this evening overnight, The Jaguares on Monday overnight, and The Breeders on Tuesday overnight; Last Call with Carson Daly sits down with Ben Harper this evening overnight, Bret Michaels of Poison on Thursday overnight, and Cold on Monday overnight; The Late Show with David Letterman gets wicky with The X-ecutioners on Thursday; and Saturday Night Live's musical guest this weekend is Moby.
New Releases Coming Tuesday, May 21:
... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change
Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men - Out in California (Hightone) recorded last year at The Blue Bird Cafe in Long Beach, California
Big Sandy & The Fly-Rite Trio - On the Go (Jeems) expanded re-issue of this 1992 gem
Boxcar Racer - Boxcar Racer (MCA) new side project for Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker of Blink-182
Meredith Brooks - Bad Bad One (Gold Circle)
Buffalo Tom - Besides (Beggars Banquet) 18-track B-sides collection
Charlatans - Songs from the Other Side (Beggars Banquet) B-sides compilation featuring the Dust Brothers' remix of "Nine Acre Dust"
LL Cool J - Ten (Def Jam) with guests Missy Elliot and Tweet
Cordelia's Dad - What It Is (Kimchee) produced by Steve Albini and Mark Alan Miller
D.I. - Caseyology (Cleopatra) 10 new tracks and bonus live rarities from these snotty Orange County droogies
Deadsy - Commencement (Elementree/Dreamworks) led by Elijah Blue Allman under the alias of P. Exter Blue
DJ Krush - Zen (Red Ink) two-LP vinyl version with new artwork, featuring guests N'Dea Davenport, Black Thought, Company Flow, and Zap Mama
DJ Teebee & K Present - The Deeper Side of Drum & Bass (Rockwell) new mix CD from this Norwegian duo also known as Polar
DJ X-Dream - Trance Theory: Volume 2 (Topaz) new from the Caffeine Records label
Dogtown & Z-Boys - original documentary film soundtrack (Universal) narrated by Sean Penn, this film follows the Zephyr Skateboard team with music by the Stooges, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Walsh, ZZ Top, and T. Rex
Donnie Darko - original motion picture soundtrack (Enjoy) helmed by Greyboy All-Stars guitarist Michael Andrews, this haunting soundtrack features an interpretation of Tears for Fears' "Mad World"
Down to the Bone - Crazy Vibes & Things (GRP) funky grooves from this UK collective
The Flatlanders - Now Again (New West) new from Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore featuring a cover of Utah Phillips' "Going Away"
Greenwheel - Soma Holiday (Island)
Killswitch Engage - Alive or Just Breathing (Roadrunner) debut from this Kerrang magazine favorite
Tommy Lee - Never a Dull Moment (MCA) new from the Motley Crue drummer with singer Brandon Boyd and guitarist Mike Einziger
Phil Lesh & Friends - There & Back Again (Lapis Music/Columbia) studio sessions from the Grateful Dead bassist and guitarist Warren Haynes
Madd Nation - World Gone Mad (Warlock) featuring guest DJ Quik, this Compton, California, debut revisits The Sugarhill Gang in its funky "Hotel Motel"
Mum - Finally We Are No One (Bubblecore/Fat Cat) from Iceland
NOFX - 45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough to Go on Our Other Records (Fat Wreck Chords) two-CD set featuring stacks of seven-inch rarities
The Pogues - Streams of Whisky (Sanctuary/Castle) seminal live performance from the band's 1991 European tour
Riddlin' Kids - Hurry Up & Wait (Aware/Columbia)
Duke Robillard - Living with the Blues (Stony Plain) all new from the reigning W.C. Handy Award's "Blues Guitarist of the Year," featuring originals and covers of material by Little Milton, Brownie McGhee, and Freddie King
Rubyhorse - Rise (Island) from Cork City, Ireland
Raphael Saadiq - Instant Vintage (Universal) new from the Toni Tony Tone founder
SGR - The Tenby Chase (Sonance) featuring a pumped-up version of The Police's "So Lonely"
Something Corporate - Leaving Through the Window (MCA/Drive Thru)
Mary Timony - The Golden Dove (Matador) second solo album from the former guitarist/vocalist of Helium
Pete Townshend - Scooped (Eel Pie Records) enhanced with a CD-ROM video for "Ask Yourself," this two-CD collection of intimate demos gets beneath monster smashes like "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Pinball Wizard"
Tram - A Kind of Closure (Jetset) featuring guest keyboards from Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins
The Walter Trout Band - Life in the Jungle (Ruf) domestic re-issue of this Europe-only 1989 album
Ugly Casanova - Sharpen Your Teeth (SubPop)
Undercover Brother - original motion picture soundtrack (Hollywood) featuring a new Snoop Dogg track, "Give up the Funk," featuring Parliament
various artists - Crank It Up (MCA) NASCAR-fueled covers of great car songs by Les Claypool, Buckcherry, and Fear Factory
various artists - The Electronic Tribute to the Grateful Dead (Vitamin) with cover contributions from Galactic Achievement Society, Motor Industries, Kinetika, and more
various artists - I Love Paris: The Fashion Chill Out Lounge Collection (Water Music/Varese Sarabande) featuring Gotan Project, Ready Made, and more
various artists - Rock On (Heartbeat) collection of hits from Winston "Niney" Holness' Observer Records label in the 1970s and 1980s, with Gregory Isaacs, Freddie McGregor, The Heptones, Dennis Brown, and more