Ministry - Cover Up

A hard rockin' cabal of guest vocalists have joined Ministry helmsman Al Jourgensen in a debaucherous covers affair, out now on his own 13th Planet Records imprint.

 

In an attempt to fight the peer-to-peer file-sharing that often beats traditional CDs to record-store shelves, two hot acts have tried to regain the upper hand. Originally set to debut in early April, Grammy Award-winning duo Gnarls Barkley surprised everyone with the full digital release of The Odd Couple last week and the Downtown Records CD in stores. Also speeding things up and keeping secrets are Jack White's Raconteurs, wrapping up the recording of Consolers of the Lonely just weeks ago, and rush-releasing the album this week on the Third Man/Warner Bros. imprint. With the nontraditional success of Radiohead's In Rainbows, followed by Nine Inch Nails' million-and-a-half-dollar estimated earnings for Ghosts I-IV in its first week as five-buck download, artists big and small have enacted the ultimate revenge against pirates and monolithic record labels.

 

What happens when slowcore visionary Alan Sparhawk of Low turns his amp up and shakes loose the timbers? In stores this week, his head-shaking trio Retribution Gospel Choir answers that call with its self-titled debut on the Caldo Verde Records imprint. Sinisterly bluesy with a guitar-tone distortion that would make Neil Young lick his lips, producer Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters wrestles the guitar, bass, and drums into a controlled frenzy. Keeping it in the family, Sparhawk's wife and partner in Low, Mimi Parker, adds her vocals to the track "Breather."

 

Shirley Bassey - Get the Party Started Forever remembered for her three James Bond soundtrack theme songs, the big, bold voice of Dame Shirley Bassey is back with a powerhouse new album that defies her 70 years. Next week Decca Records releases Get the Party Started, a collection of her previous hits and graceful covers including the title track by Pink, Lionel Richie's "Hello," and Grace Jones' "Slave to the Rhythm." After knocking out the crowd at last year's Glastonbury festival and thrilling new listeners for the past few decades with cool collaborations with Yello and the Propellerheads, a handful of hip producers and remix agents have spun 10 of her classics for a new age. Revisiting "You Only Live Twice," "Big Spender," and "What Now My Love," smoking new beats, guitar lines, and orchestral thunderclaps make this a must-hear experience.

Pink Floyd and Philosophy There's something to be said for those minds that tilt sideways and see mankind through the lens of Kant, Kierkegaard and Sartre. For eight years now the academics at Chicago's Open Court Publishing have wet their quills in the zeitgeist of modern icons in their Popular Culture & Philosophy series, dismantling everything from Quentin Tarantino and Monty Python to The Sopranos and the Atkins Diet. With previous volumes on Bob Dylan, U2, and the Grateful Dead, the book series has taken on the grandest of all rock bands, lifting Pink Floyd up for pontification in Aristotle's garden. Subtitled Careful With That Axiom, Eugene!, Pink Floyd & Philosophy is a heady 300-page rush of essays by 19 department chairs, professors, and freelancers.

The Dino-5With a guest appearance by De La Soul and a storyline that's just been optioned by Chris Rock, five MCs have joined forces for the preschool set as The Dino-5. Animated videos are soon to air on Noggin TV, and a nationwide tour is in the works for this summer, but just who are DJ Stegosaurus, Billy Brotosaurus, MC T-Rex, Tracy Triceratops, and TEO Pterodactal? Put away your pick and shovel: This prehistoric crew is none other than Prince Paul, Wordsworth, the Jurassic 5's Chali Tuna, Digable Planets' Lady Bug Mecca, and The Roots' Scratch, respectively, as the colorful young dinosaurs. The Baby Loves Music Records label is releasing the self-titled CD in early April, narrated by spoken-word artist Ursula Rucker.

Funplex With a rush like the first road trip of spring, the B-52s are back next week after a decade of silence with a rousting bop-'til-you-drop CD. Titled Funplex, the floor-shaking Astralwerks release is a time trip to the golden era of carefree college radio, with the beehive harmony sway of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson and the unique vocal styling of Fred Schneider, cutting through today's gloomy emo haze with a love-shack karate chop to the sacroiliac. Helmed by Keith Strickland, the band's original drummer who picked up main guitar duties after the death of Ricky Wilson in 1985, highlights on the hook-heavy disc include the afternoon delight of "Ultraviolet," the martini-mile drive of "Deviant Ingredient," and the meet-me-at-the-mall hedonistic sass of the title track.

Allison Moorer - Mockingbird While critics are gushing over Cat Power's recent all-covers collection Jukebox, my pick for the cover-girl showdown is this coming Tuesday's release of Mockingbird by Allison Moorer. Opening up with the album's only original (and title track), 11 covers of songs by women fill out the lady-power salute, even slipping in to Cat Power's own "Where Is My Love." Plucking from the songbook of the greatest women songwriters, selections range from Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot" to Gillian Welch's "Revelator" to Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." Recorded in a breezy week at producer Buddy Miller's Dogtown Studio, highlights also include Ma Rainey's "Daddy, Goodbye Blues" (featuring Moorer's husband, Steve Earle, on roots guitar) and the enraptured pine of Nina Simone's "I Want a Little Sugar In My Bowl."

Dead Pedestrians - And Other DistractionsThe hip-hop sound of the 1980's and 1990's gets peeled back like an onion this Tuesday, with Blue Note Records' release of Droppin' Science. Surveying the history of the label's catalog of funky vintage jazz breakbeats, broken down for use as the foundation of a whole new genre, the iconic label presents the original tracks and a look at the hip-hop gold each song inspired. From the "sampleography" of the Beastie Boys pulling from Jeremy Steig's "Howling For Judy" from 1970 into their 1994 hit "Get It Together," to A Tribe Called Quest, Main Source, De La Soul, DJ Krush, and J Dilla each copping a piece of 1974's "Think Twice" by Donald Byrd, the connect-the-dots history of sticky finger beat-making is a fascinating ride. Thirteen original classics fill the CD release, also available on old-school slipmat-scratching LP vinyl and stylish individual ring-tones of the original sampled loops. Other highlights include Lou Donaldson "Who's Makin' Love (To Your Old Lady)" from 1969, lifted by Marley Marl, Mary J. Blige and Biggie Smalls, and Joe Williams' "Get Out Of My Life Woman" from 1966, nicked by Biz Markie, Kool G Rap and Jill Scott.

There Might Be Giants - Here Come the 123s Already the creators of the theme songs for The Oblongs and Higglytown Heroes, They Might Be Giants are back with a new CD for the minivan-crumb-snatcher set. This coming Tuesday, Disney Town Records releases the infectious, numerically themed Here Come the 123s, and who'd have thought that so much wisdom could be found in 24 songs about numbers? I mean, who can argue with the Zen attitude in "One Everything" and "Zeroes"? Other highlights include disco snap of "High Five," which could have slipped off the Thank God It's Friday soundtrack, the funky shrug of "Seven" (in collaboration with the Dust Brothers), and the easy I-can-do-it groove of "Infinity." A variety of animators created a bonus DVD of videos for each song, hosted by the double-John duo's puppet doppelgängers.

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