Billboard Bits: Wiseguys, Shriekback, BET

News on Wiseguys, Shriekback, BET

Theo KeatingLast year, Rykodisc introduced Nick Drake to a whole new audience following the use of "Pink Moon" in an advertisement for the Volkswagen Cabrio. Now, Mammoth is hoping for similar results with Britain's Wiseguys (led by producer Theo Keating), capitalizing on the use of the song "Start the Commotion" in the current series of ads for Mitsubishi cars.

The track was originally released on the Wiseguys 1999 album "The Antidote," issued in the U.K. on the Wall of Sound label and in North America on the Dust Brothers' Ideal Records, via Mammoth. But following its licensing for the Mitsubishi ads, interest in the group has escalated, prompting Mammoth to relaunch the album with a new marketing campaign. The label recently released "Start the Commotion" as a single to radio, where it has already started to get major adds at top-40 stations such as Z100 New York and WAPE Jacksonville, Fla.

The album itself, which was selling less than 100 copies a week at the beginning of the year, sold 1,500 units in the U.S. last week, according to SoundScan. The track reached No. 36 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in late April.

-- Jason Reynolds, L.A.

ShriekbackMoody dance-pop group Shriekback is taking a democratic approach to providing its fanbase with a reunion album. The band's official Web site is exhorting fans to send cash donations to help fund the recording of a new album featuring the original Shriekback lineup (Barry Andrews, Dave Allen, Carl Marsh).

Since the group does not currently have a label deal, it plans to fund the recording and production of the album through personal donations. Everyone who contributes money to the fund will be mentioned on the album sleeve, and those contributing $50 or more will also receive a signed copy of the finished product.

Shriekback's original lineup, which featured key members of seminal bands XTC and Gang Of Four, has not recorded together since the 1986 album "Big Night Music" (Island), although an album recorded in 1995 featuring principal Barry Andrews was released under the Shriekback name in 2000 on Australian label Mushroom. "Big Night Music" peaked at No. 145 on The Billboard 200 in 1987, and the single "Intoxication" hit No. 6 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart in September 1988.

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.

Lil ZaneLil' Zane, Athena Cage, Jesse Powell, and Philly's Most Wanted are among the artists that will perform at cable network BET's Rap-It-Up Family Block Party tomorrow (June 27) at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The event, which will also be staged in 10 other major U.S. cities, aims to raise AIDS awareness within the African-American community. Queen Pen, Mista, Jaguar, Tonex, Shelly Gaines, and Restine Jackson will be on the bill.

"By producing a diverse array of activities, including celebrity performances, vendors, HIV testing, and health education, the event provides a platform for the message that HIV is a preventable disease that affects everyone," BET says in a statement.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.