Billboard Bits: Cantrell, Ashcroft, Jennings

News on Jerry Cantrell, Richard Ashcroft, Waylon Jennings

Jerry CantrellFormer Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell will release his second solo album, "Degradation Trip," this summer via a new deal with Roadrunner. Recorded with Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies, Ozzy Osbourne) and Mike Bordin (Faith No More) over the last two years, the album was produced by Cantrell with Jeff Tomei (Smashing Pumpkins, matchbox twenty).

"It's probably one of the heaviest records I have put out, including Alice," Cantrell said in a statement. The artist plans to unveil some of the new material at a March 13 showcase in Austin, Texas.

Cantrell's first post-Alice In Chains album, "Boggy Depot," debuted at No. 28 on The Billboard 200 in April 1998. The album sported three Mainstream Rock Tracks hits: "Dickeye," "My Song," and "Cut You In," the latter of which hit No. 5 on the chart.

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.

RichardFormer Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft turned up for an unannounced 20-minute acoustic set last night (Feb. 6) at London's Royal Albert Hall, prior to Oasis' headlining performance as part of the Teenage Cancer Trust benefits. Although he failed to get all the way through one of two new songs as well as the Verve favorite "History," Ashcroft also played his old band's hits "Bittersweet Symphony" and "Lucky Man."

The artist is hard at work on his second Virgin solo album, but no release date has yet been nailed down. It's the follow-up to 2000's "Alone With Everybody," which spawned the No. 3 U.K. hit "A Song for the Lovers" and has sold 76,000 copies in the U.S. to date, according to SoundScan. Ashcroft can also be heard singing on "The Test," from the Chemical Brothers' new Astralwerks album "Come With Us."

Last night, Paul Weller joined headliners Oasis on keyboards for the latter's "Don't Look Back in Anger." Oasis also played two new songs, "The Hindu Times" and "Hung in a Bad Place," expected to appear on its sixth Epic studio album, which is due in May. The Who will headline the Albert Hall benefits tonight and tomorrow.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

WaylonTwenty of country legend Waylon Jennings' earliest recordings will surface on CD for the first time via "Phase One: The Early Years 1958-1964," due March 5 from Hip-O. Among the notable tracks are Jennings' debut single, "Jole Blon"/"When Sin Stops," which was produced by Buddy Holly, as well as covers of cuts by Roy Orbison ("Crying"), Bob Dylan ("Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"), Mel Tillis ("Burning Memories"), and the Big Bopper ("White Lightin'").

Jennings also tackles "It's So Easy" and "Rave On," both popularized by Holly. Jennings was on tour with Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens in 1959 and gave up his seat on the plane that crashed and killed all three budding superstars. "Phase One" chronicles the years leading up to Jennings' tenure on RCA, which had yielded a string of top-10 country singles by the late '60s.

As previously reported, Jennings' left foot was amputated in mid-December because of an infection related to diabetes. He has been outfitted with a prosthetic foot and hopes to return to performing this spring.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.


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