I wasn't previously familiar with Ray Wilson's pedigree, as a number-one charting UK pop star with Stiltskin in 1994, or of his replacement of Phil Collins as the lead vocalist of Genesis in 1996, but allow me to bow down and sign up for the fan club.

• Plea for Peace: Take Action is a new compilation benefit CD that will be released this coming Tuesday in support of the National Hopeline Network, a coast-to-coast suicide/crisis counseling organization. The two-CD set bears the imprints of the Asian Man and Sub City Records labels and features rare, live, or previously unreleased tracks from the Selby Tigers, Alkaline Trio, At the Drive-In, TSOL, Thursday, and more.

• Two state-of-the-art technologies come together this week in Flash Frames: The Best of Internet Animation, a DVD/CD-ROM release that shows off the best of do-it-yourself FLASH animation. With no slow loading, these vivid clips roll right out, each one more mesmerizing than the last.

• The carefree, drug-fueled excess of late-1980s British club scene is documented this Tuesday by the Essential/FFRR label as it releases the original motion picture soundtrack to 24 Hour Party People. The comedic film re-creates the famed era when punk rock evolved on the dance floor of the Hacienda club and in the Manchester sound of the Happy Mondays and other sweaty ravers.

Two years ago, Iowa City’s Kelly Pardekooper released Johnson County Snow with his Devil’s House Band, and I called it one of my favorite records of the year. Not among my favorite indie releases. Among my favorites, period.

I was excited to check out New York’s Ulu when they came to Summerfest on July 12. I knew that they’d played at RIBCO a few months back, and I’d heard a snippet of Live at the Wetlands, Ulu’s second album, recorded in November of ’99.

• After countless years and a few false starts, Axl Rose and his next generation of Guns N' Roses are stepping out into the sunlight next month. No news yet of American tour dates, but the band has announced the new lineup will debut August 17 in Tokyo and weave through England and Belgium for a few weeks.

It would be easy to forgive the Bix Memorial Jazz Society if its leaders were looking past this weekend's Bix Memorial Jazz Festival. After all, next year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke, and the society has some big things planned, including a Caribbean Bix cruise in November 2003 and what's sure to be a blowout centennial festival next summer.

• This Tuesday Public Enemy releases what could be considered the first truly interactive album ever made. Entitled Revolverution, the 14-track CD is a collection of live tracks, remixes, and unique new material that boasts creative partnership with the band's fans.

A Rare Insight

The photograph on the cover of Retrospective 1982-2002, the new overview CD by Cedar Rapids’ Gayla Drake Paul, might at first seem to be a concession to modern marketing. The photo, dating from 1988, shows Paul in a tank top and unzipped jeans, her hand reaching under her shirt, exposing part of a breast.

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