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By Andy Argyrakis
The Smoking Popes Weekend Report: Popes' homecoming, Traffic tribute
Friday, October 5, 2007
Throughout the 1990s, Chicago's The Smoking Popes were signed to Capitol but maintained a fervent underground audience thanks to tours with Morrissey and the burgeoning at the time Green Day and Jimmy Eat World. But at the peak of fame, the band's front man Josh Caterer found faith, broke up the band and split his time between solo projects and the new group Duvall. In 2006 his bug came back for the band who teamed with longtime fans Bayside on the road and released the reunion CD At Metro (Victory). The sold out show sparked a tour that's carried into this year, including tonight's homecoming show at Dominican University's Lund Auditorium (www.dom.edu/performing-arts/special-events.html).

Just a State away, online magazine MelodicRock.com celebrates its ten anniversary with a marathon concert of classic rockers. Headliners Scrap Metal are a super group of sorts led by Gunnar & Matthew Nelson (Nelson) and also featuring Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger), Mark Slaughter (Slaughter), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Dave Marshall (Vince Neil Band) and Gary Corbett (Lou Gramm Band/Cinderella). The group also features guests Jim Peterik (ex-Survivor/Pride Of Lions/Ides Of March), Jimi Jamison (ex-Survivor), Jack Blades (Night Ranger), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) and Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple).Dear Mr. Fantasy Kevin Chalfant and The Storm also appear (reuniting the BMI Award winning front man with original guitarist Josh Ramos), performing original hits and tracks from the new Fly 2 Freedom CD (paying tribute to longtime collaborators Journey). MelodicRockFest takes place Saturday in South Bend, Indiana at the Morris Performing Arts Center with a full line-up and ticket information at www.melodicrock.com.

For those who'd prefer firing up the DVD player, the recently released Dear Mr. Fantasy: A Celebration for Jim Capaldi (Eagle Rock Vision) makes for this weekend's top pick. The project pays tribute to the late great Traffic co-founder with a cavalcade of all-star guests led by former band mate Steve Winwood. Other guests include Pete Townshend, Joe Walsh, Yusuf Islam (originally Cat Stevens), Bill Wyman and Paul Weller performing together and in collaborative sets. Aside from retro favorites "Pearly Queen," "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "John Barleycorn Must Die," the encore wraps with a full cast rendition of the touching "Love Will Keep Us Alive."
Neko Case Neko's re-issues, AC/DC's DVD packages
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Indie rock chanteuse Neko Case continues to balance membership in the New Pornographers with time on her own. Though she's currently on tour with the group, Anti- is lining up an extensive re-issue campaign of her solo catalogue, starting with Fox Confessor Brings The Flood. Aside from all the project's original songs, a bonus disc will now include five additional tunes. Also on the docket for the November 6 release are straight forward repressings of 2000's Furnace Room Lullaby and 2002's Blacklisted, which despite having no new material, are still essential albums for Case connoisseurs.

It's been ages since AC/DC released a new studio CD (seven years to be exact) and while nothing to that effect has been officially confirmed on the horizon, an extensive DVD set boasts plenty of fan-friendly footage. Dropping October 16, Plug Me In will be featured in double and triple disc formats, both exhaustivelyAC/DC DVD covering previously unreleased concert footage and interviews split between the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras. Die-hards who pick up the longer package also score a never before seen 1983 concert from the Houston Summit.

In equally heavy (if not even louder) contexts, hard rockers Lamb of God hit the road this fall fresh off this summer's Ozzfest outing. The famed metal maniacs team with Killswitch Engage (straight from the Vans Warped Tour) and will alternate headlining slots every night. Relative Roadrunner Records newcomers DevilDriver and Nuclear Blast Records act Soilwork (straight from Sweden) open the head banging marathons.
The Killers The Killers rarities, Locksley's October tour
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Even though The Killers are in between studio albums, Island Records keeps the product chain coming with a collection of B-sides, remakes and rarities. While it may seem a bit pre-mature to put fourth such a project (after all, the band only released two full-length studio discs), Sawdust is loaded with potential gems. The November 13 release is being pulled together at New York's Hell's Kitchen under the helm of legendary Velvet Underground leader Lou Reed and is slated to include a covers as diverse as Joy Division's "Shadowplay" and Kenny Rogers & the First Edition's "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (penned by Mel Tillis).

Following tours with We Are Scientists, The Dandy Warhols and The Rapture, plus the early 2007 release of Don't Make Me Wait (Feature Records), Brooklyn buzz band Locksley loads up its buses once again.Locksley The group's October club tour of America comes on the heels of a recent "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" broadcast that showcased an influence pool packed with Richard Hell, The Hives and The Sonics.

October into November also finds pop/punk Virgin label mates The Starting Line and The Almost joining forces with Paramore. The three bands recently teamed up on this summer's Vans Warped Tour and reunite for another U.S. run that visits clubs and theatres. However, fans catching the first leg won't be able to catch The Almost until November 11, following front man Aaron Gillespie's freedom from his full time band Underoath. Despite being on all dates, time for The Starting Line has been equally tight, including its recent release of Direction, produced by Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects).
Elton John Street Date: Elton and Asia DVDs, CDs galore!
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Either record labels are hoping to cash in on the holiday buying spree a few months early or they all sat down to plan a major release date to drive people back into the stores. The list of prominent titles is probably the longest of this year thus far and it all kicks off with one of the most enduring piano men of the past century Elton John. The self-explanatory Elton 60: Live at Madison Square Garden (Island/Mercury) hits DVD, showcasing one disc of live hits and a second of rare footage spanning his lengthy career thus far.

In other classic rock contexts, prog rock super group Asia puts another feather in its reunion cap by releasing the DVD Fantasia Live in Tokyo (Eagle Vision), following a double disc CD of the same title. The two and a half hour affair includes a complete concert focusing on all the group's hits, plus gems from members' Siouxsie Yes, King Crimson, ELP and The Buggles' catalogues. A bonus 40-minute interview pulls together all the original members (John Wetton, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes) offering insight on the performance and the band's history thus far.

And as previously reported on these very pages, the day has finally arrived for Bruce Springsteen faithful to consume Magic (Columbia), The Banshees' fans to catch Siouxsie's solo debut Mantaray (Decca) and PJ Harvey appreciators to pick up her first disc in three years White Chalk (Island). Current solo stars Annie Lennox and John Fogerty respectively release Songs of Mass Destruction (Arista) and Revival (Fantasy), as the latter's recent tour mate Willie Nelson turns in So Much To Do (Hallmark). In the take it or leave it category, Matchbox Twenty releases the half hits/half new songs Exile on Mainstream (Atlantic), country crooner Faith Hill churns out The Hits (Warner Brothers Nashville) and the Rolling Stones singer limps through The Very Best of Mick Jagger (Rhino). Outside of "Dancing In the Streets" with David Bowie, who knew he had solo hits?
The Sex Pistols Sex Pistols in States, New Hall of Fame class
Monday, October 1, 2007
Punk purveyors The Sex Pistols have been laying low as of late, but with this year's 30th anniversary of Never Mind The Bollocks...Here's The Sex Pistols, John Lydon and company are coming out of the woodwork. After previously announcing a handful of U.K. shows in November, the band is also embarking on a special "fans only" gig at The Roxy in Los Angeles October 25. The completely private affair requires tickets that can be won by listening to the local Indie 103.1 or hitting up the station's website www.indie1031.com. (Who would've thought a band with only a single studio album would be causing so much hype this far down the line?)

It's the time of year for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to announce its latest class of inductions, which is led this year by pop princess Madonna. The diverse list also includes her one time opening act the Beastie Boys, enduring rocker John Mellencamp, tunesmith Leonard Cohen,Leonard Cohen disco diva Donna Summer, dance act Chic, British Invasion mainstays The Dave Clark Five, surf rockers The Ventures and early rapper Afrika Bambaataa. An official induction ceremony takes place March 10, 2008 at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Fresh off Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution Tour, Mindless Self Indulgence just released the live DVD Our Pain, Your Gain (UCR/Metropolis Video), landing at number five on Billboard's "Top Music Video" charts. The title traces over twenty concert tunes (filmed across three nights at New York City's Webster Hall), music videos and behind the scenes footage. This year marks the band's tenth year of mashing together the seemingly opposite worlds of punk rock and electronic music (with slices of hardcore thrown in for extra effect).

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