News on Napster, 'Chronic Jointz,' The Reivers

napsterIn the latest sign the file-swapping service is struggling, Napster cut 10% of its work force last week, a move it said was prompted by longer than anticipated negotiations with major record labels. Napster CEO Konrad Hilbers said in a statement released Friday that the company planned to continue licensing negotiations with record labels, but in the meantime "we needed to make moderate and temporary staffing reductions, which resulted in a 10% cut."

A Napster spokesperson said he did not know exactly how many employees had been laid off. But he said the company employed more than 100 people before the latest round of layoffs. It's the second round of layoffs at Napster, which shed 16 employees, or 15% of its work force, in October.

The company is still trying to settle a three-year-old copyright infringement suit brought against it by the major record labels and the Recording Industry Association of America, and it has been offline since July as it tries to retool itself into a subscription service. A relaunch date has not been announced.

"We intend to fill these positions once we are closer to launch," Hilbers said. "In the interim, we're continuing our development efforts on the new service." Bertelsmann, the parent company of record label BMG, is Napster's primary financial backer. It remains committed to the new Napster service and will fund it through the relaunch, Hilbers said.

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CypressKoch has compiled 14 hip-hop odes to marijuana on "Chronic Jointz: The Hits Volume 1," due April 9. The set includes pot-themed favorites such as Cypress Hill's "Hits From the Bong," Keith Murray's "High As Hell," and Xzibit's "Chronic Keeping 101," alongside tracks from Tone Loc, Pharcyde, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Trick Daddy, and others.

Here is the tracklist for "Chronic Jointz: The Hits Volume 1":

Tone Loc, "Cheeba Cheeba"
Cypress Hill, "Hits From the Bong"
Pharcyde, "Pack the Pipe"
The Luniz, "I Got 5 on It"
B-Legit, "Blaze It"
Crucial Conflict, "Hay"
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, "Buddha Lovaz"
St. Lunatics, "Sticky Now"
Three Six Mafia, "I'm So Hi"
Trick Daddy, "Smoke Out"
KRS One, "I Can't Wake Up"
Keith Murray, "High As Hell"
Noreaga, "Half Baked"
Xzibit, "Chronic Keeping 101"

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Reiv"Saturday" and "End of the Day" -- two long out of print albums by jangle pop/rock act the Reivers -- will be re-released next Tuesday (March 19) through the Nashville-based Dualtone label. Originally released by Capitol in 1987 and 1989, respectively, the albums document the band's entire stay on the major label, and half of its total recorded output.

The new edition of "Saturday" adds the track "Bidin' Time" from the same recording sessions as the rest of the album, and a reading of Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You in the End." The former was previously released on DB Records' 1985 "Squares Blot Out the Sun" compilation. Similarly, "End of the Day" adds "Tell Me So" and a version of the standard "Green Dolphin Street," both recorded during the original album sessions.

Known as Zeitgeist until a Minneapolis-based act laid claim to the name, the acclaimed Austin-based group re-christened itself the Reivers in honor of the William Faulkner novel of the same name. Along with the Capitol albums, the group released 1985's "Translate Slowly" (as Zeitgeist), and 1991's "Pop Beloved," both on DB.

Since splitting after the release of "Pop Beloved," Reivers guitarist/vocalist/producer John Croslin has turned to producing and engineering releases for artists such as Beulah, Guided By Voices, Spoon, and Creeper Lagoon.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Copyright 2002 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.