Billboard Bits: Bragg, Seagal, Elliott Smith, Silkworm

News on Billy Bragg, Steven Seagal, Elliott Smith, Silkworm

BillyA little more than a week after Yep Roc Records confirmed it was prepping deluxe reissues of four Billy Bragg albums and a box set, the artist has postponed the projects until 2006.

"As the date of release has approached, I have become increasingly concerned about how I could give the re-releases my full attention," Bragg says. "I would feel torn if I was not able to match the enthusiasm and commitment to this project which has been shown by the Yep Roc team."

The label had planned to issue new versions of the singer/songwriter's "Life's a Riot With Spy vs. Spy," "Brewing Up With Billy Bragg," "Talking With the Taxman About Poetry" and "The Internationale" on Sept. 20 and box them together with a bonus DVD. Now Yep Roc has an eye on releasing them in the spring, allowing Bragg to finish working on a book and to spend time with his family.

"This postponement will make it possible for me to fully support these releases on both sides of the Atlantic," he says. "I am very much looking forward to doing some gigs to coincide with these re-releases." Among the planned shows is a stop at Austin, Texas' annual South By Southwest music festival and conference in March.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

SteveSteven Seagal, action icon and star of such films as "Hard to Kill," "Under Siege" and "The Glimmer Man," is planning an early 2006 U.S. release date for his debut album, "Songs From the Crystal Cave."

The set, which features guest appearances by Stevie Wonder, Lt. Stitchie, and Lady Saw, is already available in France and will be sold in Asia come September. The martial-arts master culls from a wide swath of musical influences on "Cave," including blues, rock, pop, Jamaican dancehall and traditional Indian music.

Tomorrow (July 16), Seagal will host the "Full Circle" ceremony near San Francisco's Pier 39, a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing. A Japanese ship will deliver "the atomic flame," a fire kindled from burning embers left over from the 1945 blast that has been protected over the decades by a group of Zen monks. The monks will then embark upon a 1,600-mile journey from California to the Trinity test site in Almorgado, N.M., where they plan to extinguish the flame.

For his part, Seagal has pledged $100,000 in order to diffuse a "high risk" Russian nuclear weapon.

-- Jordan Heller Weissmann, N.Y.

SystemThe Decemberists ("Clementine"), the Helio Sequence ("Satellite"), the Thermals ("Ballad of Big Nothing"), Dolorean ("The Biggest Lie") and Lifesavas ("Happiness") are among the acts confirmed to appear on an as-yet-untitled tribute album to late singer/songwriter Elliott Smith. The set is due in the fall via the new label Expunged to mark the two-year-anniversary of Smith's death.

Also of note on the album is Sean Croghan's cover of "High Times," a Smith song that has never previously been released. Other acts on the set include Jeff Trott, Sexton Blake, the Society Of People Of Ambience And Elegance, Amelia, Swords, Crosstide and Telephone.

-- Todd Martens, L.A.

SystemSilkworm drummer Michael Dahlquist was killed in a car accident yesterday (July 14) in Niles, Ill. According to a post from group member Tim Midgett on the veteran Chicago-based indie rock band's
official Web site, two other people in the car with Dahlquist were also killed.

"They were behind a car at a light," Midgett wrote. "A young woman, bent on doing injury to herself, ran into the back of the car at a high rate of speed. Evidently, all three guys were killed instantly."

Silkworm's most recent album was 2004's "It'll Be Cool." When not recording and touring with Silkworm, Dahlquist and Midgett both worked at the Shure microphone company in Niles.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.


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