Trojan Country Reggae As weird as it sounds, the sound of Jamaica has always had a soft spot for American country music, often topping the charts in the island nation throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Next week, the mighty Trojan label is issuing a three-CD box collecting classic country songs reinterpreted by Jamaica's favorite sons. Simply titled Trojan Country Reggae, the set features toasters, MCs, and old-school dub professors Toots & the Maytals, David Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Max Romeo, John Holt, Hopeton Lewis, and more twisting up 50 selections, including "Tennessee Waltz," "Stand by Your Man," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "Sunshine on My Shoulders," "For the Good Times," and (duh!) "Wasted Days & Wasted Nights."

The Penny Ante Book The second edition of the Penny Ante Book is a beautifully twisted art jam that feels like finding cryptic love letters at the foot of a high-school locker, smudged with the tears and ballpoint-pen teen angst of a Breakfast Club detention. Published by the Penny-Ante Press division of Gifted Children Records, the 288 pages are peppered with rock-and-roll flotsam and jetsam, from an essay about the real Darby Crash by Alice Bag to a tour diary by Smog's Bill Callahan. Other highlights include a short story by Lene Lovich, Bonnie Prince Billy poster artwork by Stacie Willoughby, a collage by Simeon Coxe of Silver Apples, a reflection on the Welsh band Man by Ptolemaic Terrascope founding editor Phil McMullen, and six pages of art by Winston Smith, best known for his subversive cut-and-paste work for the Dead Kennedys.

One of America's greatest minds, Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West, returns next week with a new CD of intellectual hip-hop and R&B. Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations features an array of guests, highlighted by Prince in the scathing "Dear Mr. Man" and talk-show host Tavis Smiley and pundit Michael Eric Dyson in examination of the "N Word." Other front row students in class include Talib Kweli in "Bushanomics," Jill Scott in "What Time It Is," and Gerald Levert in "The Man's Gonna Getcha." Look for the thought-provoking disc on Hidden Beach Records' Hidden Beach Forum imprint.

Roadwork: Rock and Roll Turned Inside Out Tom Wright's life story in the new photography book Roadwork: Rock & Roll Turned Inside Out is one of those magical, right-place-at-the-right-time tales that leaves one grinning from ear to ear in envy. A schoolmate of Pete Townshend in 1962, Wright's gig as tour photographer for The Who in 1967 opened the doors for decades of intimate access and impromptu backstage portraiture with Rod Stewart, The James Gang, and the Rolling Stones. The Hal Leonard Books hardcover edition is a mix of anecdotes and excesses from the Wild West days of rock, printed on tasteful archival cream paper.

Share This Place The soundtrack to a fascinating multimedia performance with a bug's eye view is released next week by indie stalwart K Records. Commissioned earlier this year by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Mirah & the Spectratone International's Share This Place is a cool collaboration with Kyle Hanson and Lori Goldston of Black Cat Orchestra, boasting a genesis that goes back to the observations of 19th Century entomologist J. Henri Fabré. The trio's parlor-room folk of lush vintage instruments accompanies filmmaker Britta Johnson's faux-insect stop-motion film - a taste of which can be found at (http://www.lorigoldston.com/sharethisplace.htm).

Paul Anka Luna covering Paula Abdul? Superchunk bowing down to Destiny's Child? Jim O'Rourke shaking out some Spice Girls? Yes, all that and a dozen more are due from Engine Room Recordings and their upcoming Guilt by Association project, asking stars to confess their guilty pleasures. Need more cringe-worthy conceptualizations? Get prepared to slip into Bonnie Prince Billy's Will Oldham crawling through Mariah Carey's "Can't Take That Away," or Petra Haden covering Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."

The Simpsons Movie soundtrack D'oh! Look for this coming Tuesday's release of The Simpsons Movie soundtrack in a special, Homer-approved deluxe doughnut edition. Only available at the "big box" stores, the Adrenaline Music CD comes packaged in a pink doughnut box with a yummy doughnut CD case inside. While Green Day is promised to appear in the film, sporting its own cover of The Simpsons' theme song, the film's soundtrack is all Hans Zimmer, intriguing me with titles such as "Thank You Boob Lady," "World's Fattest Fertilizer Salesman," and "Trapped Like Carrots." Only 25,000 copies of the doughnut edition have been made, and Green Day's track can be found on a CD single released the same day.

 

You're Gonna Miss Me A favorite of the indie-film-fest circuit is released this week as a must-see DVD, peeling back the myth and magic of Roky Erickson. Opening with his own mother's court deposition concerning her son's stewardship, You're Gonna Miss Me is brutally honest as the camera observes what's left from a life of "permanently tripping." Another line-jumper in the blur between genius and insanity, the 13th Floor Elevators' seer certainly had that special something - a voice that Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top calls the elusive "mystery factor." Whatever your personal positions on drug abuse, anti-psychotic medications, alternative therapy, and our prison system, you might be challenged by this one-hit-over-the-line madman, now caressing his Mr. Potato Head doll, turning on every sound-producing device in the house, trying to escape his own white noise. The Palm Pictures documentary is packed with archival footage, rare photographs, and family and devotees telling the tale, which includes a 1966 appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, his last real gig in 1987 with the Butthole Surfers, and bizarre Mom-made home movies crowning a Christ-like Roky "king of kings." Bonus material on the DVD includes live and rare acoustic performances and readings.

The Asylum Street Spankers - Mommy Says No! Rock and roll shows off its brainpower next week in two CDs that feature frontmen who've earned the privilege of being referred to as "doctor." Bad Religion is back with its 14th album of smart punk, New Maps of Hell, helmed by UCLA professor of evolutionary paleontology Greg Graffin.

Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist With iTunes now the third-largest music retailer in the country and the "big box" stores selling nearly two-thirds of all new CDs, things are getting weird, with more exclusive releases snuggling up with previously unlikely bedfellows. Starbucks and Universal Music have announced an upcoming album of Sonic Youth covers entitled Hits Are for Squares, with contributions by actress Chloe Sevigny, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and comedian David Cross. In even more disturbing news, Billy Corgan is forcing fans of Smashing Pumpkins to purchase three slightly different versions of the upcoming Zeitgeist CD if they want all the bonus tracks that close out the disc. With the standard version featuring 12 tracks, does the search for the special rarities head you toward a hip, independent retailer? Unfortunately not, as fans are instead aimed towards iTunes, Best Buy, and Target for "Stellar," "Death From Above," and the title track. One more reason to jump for the iTunes set on pre-sale is a bonus pack of five Pumpkins songs covered by Panic At the Disco, The Bravery, +44, Test Your Reflex, and The Academy Is. Look for the various configurations of CDs and LP vinyls to sport different color combinations on their sleeves.

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