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Freebird Flies Again

Skynyrd honored with concept album


Raise your Bic lighters high and yell "Freebird!" The good ol' boys of the Drive-By Truckers have resurrected the rock opera in their own grand Southern gentry style, as their new 2-CD set is a concept album based on the life, death and haunting legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd. This Tuesday, the Lost Highway Records label releases this two-act musical drama, simply titled Southern Rock Opera and featuring tracks like "Ronnie and Neil," "Birmingham," "Shut Up and Get on the Plane" and "Angels and Fuselage." Fronting the roar of a 3-guitar line of attack are crowd pleasers Mike Cooley, Rob Malone and Patterson Hood. Like any nice program from an evening at the opera, a 16-page booklet of introductions to the acts, an epilogue and contributed artwork and photography are also included within... A waterfall of upcoming solo albums are due all summer long, as talented former front men and founding members of previous delights are stepping up independently. My pick of the week is just one of these: No Other Love, a new solo album from Chuck Prophet on the New West imprint. Fresh out of high school in 1984, Prophet planted early roots for the upcoming Americana mash in his seminal alt-country band Green On Red. Described by Britain's Q magazine as "the missing link between Paul Westerberg and Bob Dylan," his post-Green On Red albums have been critical raves -- like his strangely wonderful The Hurting Business, blending hip-hop sampling technology with countrified soul. This new album also keeps one guessing with Omnichord vibes, Timbuk 3-esque grooves, and his laid back swagger of magnificent storytelling... Three other new solo releases are due this coming Tuesday: Fidatevi, the debut solo album from the Screeching Weasel founder Ben Weasel on the Panic Button label; Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell and his Degradation Trip on the Roadrunner Records label; and All Over Creation from Jason Ringenberg of Jason and the Scorchers. Ringenberg's new CD bears the Yep Roc logo and features guests Steve Earle, Todd Snider, Hammell On Trial and Lambchop... More solo album news comes from John Doe, founding member of X. Doe has joined the new iMUSIC arm of ARTIST Direct, a low-key label idea where the artist owns his masters, has complete creative control, and splits the album sales 50-50 with the label. His new album, Dim Stars, Bright Sky, is due in August and features guest vocalists Aimee Mann, Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers, and Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go's. Guests on the all-acoustic set include Smokey Hormel of Beck's backing band and pedal steel guitar player Ben Peeler... Another onboard iMUSIC solo artist is Tre Hardson, a.k.a. Slimkid Tre of the Pharcyde, who steps up on his own in early September with Liberation. The new CD promises guests MC Lyte, Saul Williams, N'Dea Davenport of the Brand New Heavies, and Chali 2na of Jurassic 5... Going without the fellowship of guest stars is Barry Adamson's upcoming instrumental solo album The King of Nothing Hill, due in August on the Mute label. As the former bassist of Magazine and a founding member of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds, Adamson has been kept busy with soundtrack scores for Derek Jarman's Last Of England and David Lynch's Lost Highway... Geoff Tate of Queensryche debuts his first solo work June 25 on the Sanctuary label, highlighted by a live appearance at Seattle's Experience Music Project Sky Church on June 22... Late August brings new work from Rhys Fulber, co-founder of the highly influential industrial band Front Line Assembly, on the Nettwerk label. The debut solo project bears the title Conjure One and features guest vocalist Poe on two tracks.

Television Alert:

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomes Dirty Vegas tonight and The Strokes on Thursday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien hosts The Hives on Thursday overnight; and The Late Show with David Letterman features The Flatlanders -- Joe Ely, Butch Hancock & Jimmie Dale Gilmore -- on Monday night.

New Releases Coming Tuesday, June 18:

(And like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change...)

Natacha Atlas -- Foretold In the Language of Dreams (Mantra / Beggars Banquet)

Belly -- Sweet Ride: The Best Of (Rhino), featuring a rare cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?"

Chumbawamba -- Readymades (Republic), concept album based on Marcel Duchamp's theory of art that does not require a maker

Commander Tom -- Damn Trance (Topaz)

Dirty Vegas -- Dirty Vegas (Capitol)

Disarray -- The Face of the Enemy (Eclipse), punk metal mayhem produced by Dave "Oderus" Brockie of GWAR

Grey Eye Glances -- A Little Voodoo (Sojourn Hills), their name is taken from an Edgar Allen Poe poem

Guided By Voices -- Universal Truth and Cycles (Matador), new album featuring the single for the rollercoaster driven video "Everywhere With a Helicopter"

Jucifer -- I Name You Destroyer (Velocette), second album from the explosive combo of Amber Valentine and Edgar Livengood, touring with The Melvins this summer

Looper -- The Snare (Mute), an upcoming North American tour promises visuals, props and dialogue in a live adaptation of bandleader Stuart David's novel The Peacock Manifesto

Lovespirals -- Windblown Kiss (Projekt), with guest Sean Bowey of Eden

Medication -- Prince Valium (Locomotive Music / Sin-drome), new from former Soulfly and Machinehead guitarist Logan Mader

No Use For A Name -- Hard Rock Bottom (Fat Wreck Chords), featuring a Sinead O'Connor cover

Oakenfold -- Bunkka (Maverick), new from Paul Oakenfold featuring guest vocalists Ice Cube, Perry Farrell, Tricky, and -- dig this -- Hunter S. Thompson

Papa Roach -- Lovehatetragedy (Dreamworks), the first pressing contains two bonus tracks and enhanced video footage

Pere Ubu -- St. Arkansas (Spin Art), their 18th album

Reigning Sound -- Time Bomb High School (In the Red), new Memphis rock & roll from Greg Cartwright of the Oblivians

The Rooks -- From the Shelves of the Soundscape Studio (Not Lame), limited edition collection of early rarities

Paulina Rubio -- Border Girl (Universal), English language debut from this international star

Silvercrush -- Stand (Redline), from Salt Lake City and recently named the best band in Utah

Simple Minds -- Cry (Eagle Records), all new songs

Speedball Baby -- Blackout (In the Red), featuring guests Cristina Martinez of Boss Hog, James Chance and Jon Spencer

Swizz Beatz -- Ghetto Stories: Vol. 1 (Dreamworks), with guests Metallica, Fat Joe, Yung Wun and Ja Rule

Various Artists -- The Bottle Let Me Down (Bloodshot), 26-track "kid songs" project featuring such root beer classics as Kelly Hogan's "Senor El Gato" and Rex Hobert & the Misery Boys' "It's Not Easy Being Green"

Violent Femmes -- Violent Femmes: Deluxe Edition (Rhino), 2-CD set that features the original 1983 classic plus nine demos and an entire second disc of live tracks

Your Enemies Friends -- The Wiretap, (Buddyhead) 6-track EP

John James can be found via cyberspace at *

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