Billboard Bits: Chicago, Alice Cooper, Pressplay

News on Chicago, Alice Cooper, Pressplay

Nelly"Chicago V" and "Chicago VI" are the next albums in line for reissue in Rhino's ongoing Chicago catalog restoration program. Due Aug. 20, the 1972 and 1973 albums have been remastered, expanded, and repackaged with new liner notes by Los Angeles Times jazz critic Don Heckman.

Along with such tunes as "Saturday in the Park" (a No. 3 hit on Billboard's Hot 100), the new version of "Chicago V" features a studio version of "A Song for Richard and His Friends" and an early take of "Mississippi Delta Blues (Early Version)," as well as a single version of "Dialogue (Part I & II)." Likewise, "Chicago VI" -- which included the top-10 Hot 100 hits "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" and "Just You 'N' Me" -- adds a collaboration with Al Green titled "Tired of Being Alone," and guitarist/vocalist Terry Kath's demo of "Beyond All Our Sorrows."

Rhino plans to continue the Chicago reissue campaign early next year with an expanded and remastered version of 1971's "Chicago at Carnegie Hall," also known as "Chicago IV." Meanwhile, the band is out on its 35th anniversary tour -- dubbed Only the Beginning 1967-2002 -- which hits Clarkston, Mich., on Saturday (Aug. 3).

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

A special edition of Alice Cooper's 2001 album "Dragontown" will be released Sept. 24 vial Spitfire Records. Expanded to include a second disc, the latest collection of Cooper's often terrifying stories now features "Can't Sleep, Clowns'll Eat Me," which is previously unreleased in North America, and a live version of "Ballad of Down Fry" and "Go to Hell" recorded on the artist's 2000 Brutal Planet tour. The set will also feature the "Brutal Planet 2002 Descent" remix and several videos. The highly theatrical Descent Into Dragontown tour will hit the road in the U.S. Aug. 30 in Sturgis, S.D., and continue through a Nov. 2 finale in Portland, Maine. A November European tour will kick off Nov. 9 in Stockholm. Cooper most recent recorded appearance surfaced in June on teen pop act A*Teens version of the title track from his classic 1972 album "School's Out" (Warner Bros.) The heavily synthesized remake -- which changes the original lyric "School's been blown to pieces" to "I'm bored to pieces" -- can be found on the Swedish group's June release "Pop 'Til You Drop," and sampled on its official Web site .

Pressplay is releasing an updated version of its digital music service, which drew criticism for limited content selection and usage restrictions when it debuted at the end of last year, Billboard Bulletin reports. The new iteration, to be announced today (Aug. 1), features unlimited downloading and streaming on a rental basis, permanent downloading on a buy-to-own basis, more open-ended CD-burning rights, and the ability to transfer tracks to portable digital music players from the likes of Sony, SonicBlue, Creative Labels, and Compaq. Additionally, Pressplay is offering 18 pre-programmed genre-based radio stations, plus community features, including the ability to browse other users' collections. "Subscribers clearly told us they wanted more flexibility, permanence, and portability options," says Pressplay CEO Michael Bebel. Executives at Pressplay, developed by Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, say licensing deals with Warner Music Group and BMG Entertainment are expected by the end of 2002. The company already has a licensing agreement with EMI.