· For more than 20 years the good folks at San Francisco's RE/Search Publications have documented all things freaky, sexual, and of intellectual interest to followers of alternative pop culture with their coffee-table tomes on body modification, independent fanzines, angry women, and incredibly strange music and film. Their latest series has just debuted under the title Real Conversations, and the first volume is a pocket-sized powerhouse of interviews and rants from some of the most explosive minds in variant tastes - monologist and former Black Flag helmsman Henry Rollins, Dead Kennedys and Alternative Tentacles founder Jello Biafra, poet laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and British jack-of-all-trades Billy Childish. Taking common themes such as the overwhelming information overload of the 21st Century, freedom to be an original thinker, and an undying commitment to truth in the arts, this 239-page discussion is an obsessive page-turner and comes highly recommended. Some of the subjects riffed upon include the Internet, record-industry evils, consumer culture and product branding, punk-rock ethics, and do-it-yourself gusto. Can't get enough? The subject's listing of his favorite books, Web sites, and films follows each interview. I also like how it is devoid of swear words, thus opening the book up to inclusion to many libraries and high schools that might otherwise censor these powerful dialogues.

· Those who dig the percolating pop sounds of the early 1980s will love Barcelona's latest Zero-One-Infinity, a delightfully infectious romp on the March Records label, and my favorite new CD of the moment. The Washington, D.C., combo chirps and buzzes with old-school electronic energy reminiscent of Human League, OMD, Our Daughter's Wedding, China Crisis, and early Casio-based pop. With cheerful lyrics about Howard Jones posters, Robert Smith hairstyles, robot love, holding hands, Pentium chips, insects, and lust for your mom's new boyfriend, this is the feel-good record of spring, a chipper pulse of electronic joy.

· Did you know that Henry Ford produced an indescribable automobile in 1941 built from hemp fiber and resin, designed to run on hemp fuel? Or that newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst, Du Pont Chemical, and Gulf Oil owner Andrew Mellon conspired to eradicate the threat of hemp on their conglomerates? With today's long-needed debates on industrial hemp and medical marijuana, the Viper Records label has just released New Prohibition: A Musical History of Hemp, an original collection of rock, jazz, and blues pro-hemp tunes that don't just celebrate hemp but call for a new look at the history of political crush and demonstrative ideology that have forever surrounded the debate. Producer extraordinaire Hall Willner presides over the affair, featuring guests Wayne Kramer, Chris Spedding, Taj Mahal, Sir Henry Bowens, Eric Mingus, and Sweet Pea Atkinson. Highlights include John Sinclair's vocal take on "George Washington," recalling a time when hemp was so important to the colonies' commerce that you could be put in jail for not growing it, and Dee Dee Ramone's spiritual "Pass It to Jah."

· Spinart Records has announced that a new album from Echo & The Bunnymen, titled Flowers, will hit store shelves in late May. A new two-part import-only CD single, "It's Alright," has just been released in the UK with special bonus video footage and mixes, and Rhino Records has a four-CD box set due in July that's chock full of rarities. Look for a North American tour in July as well.

Television Alert:

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomes Janet Jackson on Thursday and Eden's Crush on Tuesday; The Late Show with David Letterman hosts Green Day on Thursday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien has Our Lady Peace on Friday overnight and The Doves on Monday overnight; Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher digs deep into the id of the controversial Ted Nugent on Monday overnight.

New Releases Coming Tuesday, May 1:
... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change.

American Gigolo - original motion picture soundtrack (Polydor) CD re-issue of this 1980 synth classic from producer Giorgio Moroder

Buju Banton - Ultimate Collection (Hip-O) 18-track set featuring rare B sides

Cosmic Rough Riders - "Baby, You're So Free" (Poptones) excellent new two-part CD single from these time-traveling folksy psychedelic brethren of Mother's Earth

Destiny's Child - Survivor (Columbia) featuring an acoustic version of the Bee Gees' "Survivor"

The Doors - The Lost Interview Tapes: Volume One (Rhino Handmade) featuring a 1970 conversation with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and a 1967 chat with student broadcasters at the University of New York

Eden's Crush - Popstars (London) from the WB Network's female version of Making the Band

Jason Falkner - Necessity: The Four-Track Years (Spin Art) new and classic songs in an intimate setting from this former member of Jellyfish, The Three O'Clock, and The Grays

Emmylou Harris - Anthology: The Warner/Reprise Years (Rhino) two-CD set featuring 45 tracks

Kammerflimmer Kollektief - Maander (Temporary Residence) avant-electronic rock from Germany

Tim Kinsellas - He Sang He Didn't He Danced His Did (Troubleman Unlimited) new from the vocalist for Joan Of Arc and Cap'n Jazz with just his acoustic guitar for accompaniment

Charles Mingus - The Complete Bethlehem Jazz Collection (Rhino/Bethlehem) three-CD set with bonus alternative takes

Mission Control - Dub Showcase (Poptones) British Essex pop meets mad-professor drum-and-bass dub

Nectarine No. 9 - Received, Transgressed, an' Transmitted (Beggars Banquet) featuring Davy Henderson, formerly of Fire Engine

Stevie Nicks - Trouble in Shangri-La (Warner Bros) with guests Macy Gray, Sarah McLachlan, Lisa Germano, Lindsey Buckingham, Sheryl Crow, and the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines

No Motiv - Diagram for Healing (Vagrant) new Southern California punk rock known for relentless touring with Face To Face, Blink 182, and The Get Up Kids

Ocean Colour Scene - Mechanical Wonder (Ark 21) proclaimed "the best band in the world" by Noel Gallagher of Oasis and touring the U.S. in May

Ours - I'm a Monster (Dreamworks)

Gram Parsons - Sacred Hearts & Fallen Angels (Rhino) two-CD set featuring 46 tracks with the Byrds, The International Submarine Band, and the Flying Burrito Brothers

Pearl Jam - Touring Band 2000 (Epic) special DVD featuring three hours of live and montage footage with 28 songs recorded live on last year's U.S. and European tours

Perfec - Best Kept Secret (Ark 21) with guests Simply Red on "Hold On"

Anthony Rochester - Music for Listening and Relaxation (Dogprint)

Rosa Chance Well - Rosa Chance Well (Kimchee)

Heidi Saperstein - The Devil I Once Knew (Kimchee)

Sick on the Bus - Punk Police (Go Kart) two-CD reissue package from these members of The Varukers and Legion of Parasites

Sid & Nancy - original motion picture soundtrack (MCA) CD re-issue of this 1986 collection featuring Joe Strummer, The Circle Jerks, The Pogues, John Cale, and the film's star, Gary Oldman

Turin Brakes - The Optimist (Astralwerks/Source)

Two Man Advantage - Don't Label Us (Go Kart) dressed in full hockey gear and ready to check you into the penalty box with their Long Island-bred beer-driven punk

Ultrababyfat - Eight Balls in Reverse (Orange) three-girl and one-guy power pop from Atlanta

Support the River Cities' Reader

Help Keep the Reader Alive and Free Since '93!


"We're the River Cities' Reader, and we've kept the Quad Cities' only independently owned newspaper alive and free since 1993. Now we find our ability to continue providing all the features you love in serious jeopardy without the financial support of our readers.

So please help the Reader keep going with your one-time, monthly, or annual support. With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted, and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage." - Todd McGreevy, Publisher