· Sex, drugs, and murder. Back it up with an infectious beat and you're sure to cause people's neck hair to rise up along with their blood pressure. Author Peter Blecha has tackled this subject in a new well-researched book, Taboo Tunes: A History of Banned Bands & Censored Songs, on the Backbeat Books imprint. Dotted with album covers, sheet-music cover art, and historical photographs, the 214-page volume is a fascinating read that doesn't just start with Elvis Presley's hips or John Lennon's quip that the Beatles were more popular that Jesus. From Henry V's royal decree on minstrels and the Chinese Qin dynasty's dictate that music was "a wasteful pastime," songsmiths have been under the scrutiny of government design all over the planet. Did you know Israel still has an unofficial ban on the work of composer Richard Wagner, or that the president of Indonesia rejected Beatlemania as "a form of mental disease"? Defenders of the public good will always see things where they want to, even if their conclusions are as silly as the FBI's inquiry into the lyrics of The Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" or the pre-release trimming of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" and Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl." Even the 600-pound gorillas at Clear Channel have compiled a lengthy list of troublesome songs that "might" inspire listener anguish in a post-September 11 world. With drumbeats growing for a possible draft to support the current war on terror, could new songs written in revolt, similar to 1915's "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier," be squashed as well? From the Wobblies' songs of workers' rights to Billie Holiday's hit "Strange Fruit," it seems that both the censor and the songwriters know the power of music. As Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic writes in his foreword to the book, "music is the alarm clock - or early warning system - [that] sets the pulse of its time."

· The power-pop curators at Not Lame Records have just released a new CD tribute to Teenage Fanclub, the Glasgow, Scotland band that unfortunately felt the legal muscle of Gene Simmons of KISS in the early 1990s, when he sucessfully sued them over their dollar-sign-and-money-bag logo. Packed with 24 contributors feeling the love, highlights include The Shazam's take on "The Concept," Gigolo Aunts' cover of "Alcoholiday," and Superdrag's "Radio." Other artists involved include The Mockers, Captain Soul, Redd Kross, and Bronco Bulldog.

· While they haven't "lost the rock," Joey Cape and Tony Sly (frontmen for Lagwagon and No Use for a Name, respectively) have joined forces to release a new split CD next week, turning off the amps and going acoustic. The Fat Wreck Chords release is simply entitled Acoustic and features each artist going solo, breaking down five tracks from their bands and one new song each.

Television Alert:

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomes Lenny Kravitz on Friday, Slipknot on Monday, and 3 Doors Down on Tuesday; The Late Show with David Letterman hosts Modest Mouse on Thursday and Alanis Morissette on Monday; The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn boasts R.E.M. on Thursday overnight and Ben Kweller on Friday overnight; Last Call with Carson Daly gets red-eyed with Dilated Peoples on Thursday overnight and Apollo Sunshine on Friday overnight; Jimmy Kimmel Live features the return of Rick Springfield this evening overnight and Usher on Thursday overnight; and Saturday Night Live's musical guest this weekend is J-Kwon.

New Releases Coming Tuesday, May 18:
... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change

Alice Donut - Three Sisters (Howler) all-new CD enhanced with video

Amen - Death Before Musick (EatURmusic/Columbia) debut release on the boutique label owned by Daron Malakian of System of a Down, named "#1 Band in the World" by Metal Hammer magazine

Melissa Auf Der Maur - Auf Der Maur (Capitol) solo debut from the Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bassist, with guests Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, John Stainer of Helmet, and former bandmates Eric Erlandson and James Iha

Brandtson - Send Us a Signal (Militia Group) fourth album from these sons of Cleveland, Ohio

Burning Image - 1983-1987 (Alternative Tentacles) newest in the label's "Punk Re-Issues of Necessity" series

The Catheters - Howling ... It Grows & Grows (SubPop) raucous squawk from Seattle

Graham Coxon - Happiness in Magazines (Transcopic/Parlophone) import-only new CD from the former Blur guitarist

Goldfrapp - "Strict Machine" (Mute) 12-inch and CD single

Gomez - Split the Difference (Virgin) the band's fourth studio album

Greenhornes/Thee Shams - "Sad Day"/"Under My Thumb" (Norton) split seven-inch single featuring two Cincinnati bands covering early Rolling Stones tracks

Guster - Guster on Ice (Palm/Reprise) live CD and DVD recorded last year, featuring a cover of the Talking Heads' "Nothing (but Flowers)"

Juliana Hatfield - In Exile Deo (Zoe/Rounder)

Hirax - The New Age of Terror (Black Devil/Deep Six) thrash-metal kings available in both CD and LP picture disc

The JW-Jones Band - My Kind of Evil (Northern Blues) produced by Kim Wilson of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, this young Canadian boogie-blues combo features a cover of the classic "Blue Monday"

The Judas Cradle - Too Bad They're All Dead (Eulogy) hardcore metal from Mobile, Alabama, formerly known as The Common Man

The Kicks - Hello Hong Kong (TVT) debut album of overdriven power-pop from Little Rock, Arkansas

Lenny Kravitz - Baptism (Virgin) with guests Lionel Richie and Jay-Z

Lanky - Last Chance for a First Impression (Imposter) live EP of solo guitar, featuring a cover of U2's "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses"

Jim Lauderdale - Headed for the Hills (Dualtone) created with lyricist Robert Hunter and featuring Gillian Welch, Allison Moorer, and Emmylou Harris

Alvin Lee - In Tennessee (Rainman) recorded last year with Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana of Elvis Presley's backing band

Meat Beat Manifesto - "Echo in Dub Space" (Tino Corp) 12-inch with re-mixes from DJ Wally and Dubloner

Method Man - Tical 0: The Prequel (Def Jam)

Alanis Morissette - So-Called Chaos (Maverick)

Morrissey - You Are the Quarry (Attack/Sanctuary) his first album since 1997, featuring Roger Manning Jr. of Jellyfish on keyboards and guitarist Boz Boorer

Nervous Norvus - Stone Age Woo (Norton) 33 demos and other rare tracks from Jimmy Drake, best known for the hit "Transfusion"

New Found Glory - Catalyst (Drive Thru/Geffen) featuring guest keyboardist James Dewees of Reggie & The Full Effect

The New Year - The End Is Near (Touch & Go) new from Matt and Bubba Kadane of Bedhead

Paco - This Is Where We Live (Unfiltered) new from Andy Chase and Dominique Durand of Ivy

Pan Sonic - Kesto (Blast First) four-CD box set

Raising the Fawn - The North Sea (Sonic Unyon) new from John Crossingham of ThanatoPop

Sleep Station - After the War (Bardic/Eyeball) excellent, ambitious conceptual project written from the perspectives of those who fought in or witnessed World War II

Darden Smith - Circo (Dualtone) featuring songs co-written with Abra Moore and Kim Richey

The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free (Vice/Atlantic) with guest Chris Martin of Coldplay

various artists - Dylan Country (Shout Factory!) collection of Bob Dylan covers by Johnny Cash, Glenn Campbell, Nanci Griffith, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, and more

various artists - True Notes: Volume 1 (Okayplayer) debut release from The Roots' new artis-owned label, featuring new tracks from Little Brother, ?uestlove, Dilated Peoples, and more

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