Lou Reed's forthcoming album, "The Raven," is heavily inspired by 19th-century author/poet Edgar Allen Poe, and will feature guest appearances by David Bowie, Five Blind Boys Of Alabama, and jazz saxo

Lou Reed's forthcoming album, "The Raven," is heavily inspired by 19th-century author/poet Edgar Allen Poe, and will feature guest appearances by David Bowie, Five Blind Boys Of Alabama, and jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman, as well as actors Steve Buscemi, Willem Dafoe, and Amanda Plummer.

The first studio effort from the rock luminary and former leader of the Velvet Underground since 2000's "Ecstasy" (Warner Bros.), "The Raven" is set for a January 2003 release from Warner Bros., according to posts on Reed's official Web site. Reed's appreciation for Poe was rekindled last year, when he collaborated with stage director Robert Wilson on a musical based on Poe's work, "POEtry," which debuted in November 2001 at Brooklyn's Academy of Music.

The centerpiece of the new album will be the title track, an updated version of Poe's most well known poem. Reed performed the music for the song and Dafoe turned in a spoken-word recitation of new words written by Reed. AOL Music (keyword: Lou Reed) and Netscape Music are currently offering early preview streams of "The Raven" and album track "Burning Embers."

"Edgar Allen Poe is that most classical of American writers -- a writer more peculiarly attuned to our new century's heartbeat then he ever was to his own," Reed writes on his site. "When given the opportunity to bring him to life through words and music ... I leapt at it -- I surged towards it like a Rottweiler chasing a bloody bone."

Released in April 2000, Reed's "Ecstasy" debuted at No. 183 on The Billboard 200. The set has sold 43,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.