· My pick of the week is this Tuesday's funky touchdown by The Clinton Administration, and I don't mean Ray Ban-ed Willie mugging with his saxophone on Arsenio Hall. A new mothership has landed, my brothers, with space pimp afterburners smoking up the joint, blistering in the hazy jam of its "take me to your leader" funk. Appropriately entitled Take You Higher, the CD brings together a master class of jam-band musicians, all bowing down in tribute to the songs of Sly & The Family Stone, grooving in the sunshine of hits including "Stand!" and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)." Featuring guitarist Michael Lee Firkins, Charlie Hitchcock of Particle, Stanton Moore of Galactic, Robert Walker of Greyboy Allstars and his own 20th Congress, and members of Garaj Mahal, this instrumental musical stew percolates with greasy, red-gravy funk, bubbling up with wicked guitar flights and spinal-probing bass. Perfect as a backdrop for shady barbeque basting or sweaty nighttime sizzle, this Magnatude Records release is feel-good summer splendor.

· Ever since the song "Pink Moon" bewitched America in that sublime Volkswagen commercial of a few years back, the secret (and sad) genius of Nick Drake is out, and news of a new collection of rarities has me tingling with anticipation. Due next week on the Island Records imprint as a British import, and as a stateside issue next month, the 13-song CD, Made to Love Magic, features a recently discovered track, "Tow the Line," long lost since 1974 and thought to be the last song he recorded before his suicide at the age of 26. Many tracks reflect a time in 1968 at Cambridge University when Drake recorded with a simple stereo tape recorder, as well as the use of modern recording-studio science to create versions of "Magic" and "Time of No Reply" the way Drake wished they were produced, with then-drafted orchestration by Robert Kirby and the proper tempo.

· Some classic voices of the 1980s, and one old friend from the late 1960s, are back with new albums. Kim Carnes has just self-released her own new CD, Chasin' Wild Trains, with all new songs co-written with a stable of terrific songwriters, including Chuck Prophet, Al Anderson of NRBQ, Kim Richey, and Anders Osborne. Quiet Riot vocalist Kevin DuBrow is proclaiming that he hasn't lost the rock, releasing his new In for the Kill CD next Tuesday on the Shrapnel Records label. This solo debut features covers of songs by Queen, T.Rex, The Sweet, Nazareth, and more. And John Kay of Steppenwolf has a new roots/blues album, Heretics & Privateers, due June 1 on Rainman Records, featuring four bonus acoustic tracks. The recent inductee into the Canadian Walk of Fame will be touring solo across the U.S. this summer.

Television Alert

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomes Everlast tonight, Nelly Furtado on Thursday, and Morris Day of The Time on Tuesday; The Late Show with David Letterman hosts Incubus tonight, Outkast on Thursday, The Strokes on Friday, and Avril Lavigne on Monday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien features Barenaked Ladies on Monday overnight; The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn begins Morrissey's run as musical guest all next week starting Monday overnight; and Saturday Night Live's musical guest this weekend is N.E.R.D.

New Releases Coming Tuesday, May 25:
... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change

Alabama Thunderpussy - Fulton Hill (Relapse) headlining the Monolith Fest this week with Orange Goblin and Unsane

Ben Allison & Medicine Wheel - Buzz (Palmetto) the fourth CD from the jazz bassist, featuring a cover of the Beatles' "Across the Universe"

Ayreon - Human Equation (Inside Out) two-CD rock opera from Dutch prog king Arjen Anthony Lucassen, with guests James Labrie of Dream Theater and Ken Hensley of Uriah Heap

The Cardigans - Long Gone Before Daylight (Koch) domestic issue of this album from last year, featuring a bonus DVD of videos and live footage from last year's Roskilde Festival

Chastain - The 7th & The Voice (Leviathan) newly re-mastered re-issue of these two killer shred-fests from 1987 and 1988, now on one CD

De La Soul - Live at Tramps, NYC, 1996 (Rhino) featuring guests the Jungle Brothers, Common, and Mos Def, this was recorded at the New York City landmark a few months before the release of the Stakes Is High album

Everlast - White Trash Beautiful (Island) all new from the voice of House of Pain

The Faces - Five Guys Walk Into a Bar ... (Rhino) four-CD box set chock full of rarities

Fall Out Boy - My Heart Will Always Be the B Side to My Tongue (Fueled By Ramen) DVD/EP featuring five acoustic tracks, two videos, and a cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

Felix the Housecat - Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever (Emperor Norton/Rykodisc) synth-funk heaven from Chicago

Holly Golightly - Down Gina's at 3 (Sympathy For the Record Industry) 20 live tracks backed by members of the Headcoats and the Greenhornes

Grateful Dead - Rockin' the Rhein (Rhino) three-CD set recorded on its 1972 European tour, featuring a 44-minute version of "Dark Star"

Green Pajamas - Essence of Carol (Recordhead) seven-inch tracks and a live one from KCMU

The Heavils - Heavilution (Metal Blade) metal mania featuring some of the wildest looking "Viking" guitars I've ever seen, called "meanies" by the band

Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin (RCA) with guest Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace

Macha - Forget Tomorrow (Jetset) highly recommended hypnotizing pop, reeling in waves of 1970s electronica and catchy cleverness

Mclusky - The Difference Between Me & You Is That I'm Not on Fire (Too Pure/Beggars Banquet) crunchy riff rock that recalls the intensity of Killing Joke

Monster Magnet - Monolithic Baby! (Hunter) featuring an updated take on "King of Mars" and a cover of The Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs"

Pedro the Lion - Achilles Heel (Jade Tree)

Robert Pollard - Fiction Man (Recordhead) the eighth solo album from the Guided By Voices visionary in collaboration with keyboardist and producer Todd Tobias

Iggy Pop - Kiss My Blood: Live in Paris (Music Video Distributors) DVD release filmed in 1991 by Tim Pope

Raising Helen - original motion picture soundtrack (Hollywood) with a new track from Liz Phair

Rhythm of Black Lines - Human Hand, Animal Band (Gold Standard Laboratories) featuring members of David Byrne's touring string section

Skillet - Collide (Lava) fronted by a husband-and-wife team and 19-year old guitarist Ben Kasica

Skinny Puppy - The Greater Wrong of the Right (Hunter) all new, with guests Danny Carey of Tool and Wayne Static of StaticX

Slipknot - Volume 3: The Subliminal Verses (Roadrunner) produced by Rick Rubin

Thee Shams - Please Yourself (Fat Possum) psychedelic blues straight out of Cincinnati, ya'll

Tiles - Window Dressing (Inside Out) hard prog from Detroit featuring a bonus live CD from 1999

various artists - Hip Hop Time Capsule: 1992 (Music Video Distributors) DVD highlighting the seminal year, featuring interviews with Das EFX, Pete Rock, Cypress Hill, Kris Kross, and Naughty By Nature, and 18 videos from the Fu-Schnickens, Black Sheep, Digable Planets, Public Enemy, and more

Washington Social Club - Catching Looks (Badman)

Wilson Phillips - California (Columbia) all new featuring covers of Jackson Browne's "Doctor My Eyes" and the Beach Boys' "In My Room"

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