Billboard Bits: Jason Newsted, James Taylor, Treach

News on Jason Newsted, James Taylor, Treach

Jason NewstedEx-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted has been confirmed to produce the new album by Dallas rock act Speedealer. The set, tentatively titled "Second Sight," is due next spring on Palm. According to Palm A&R executive Michael Alago, "with Jason's 15 years of making extraordinary records with Metallica, he was primed to put all that musicality into production. Jason is a brilliant musician and friend and the trust I have in him is enormous."

Since leaving Metallica in January, Newsted has signed on to co-produce and play on the next album by Canadian hard rock act Voidod, and has unveiled his own project, EchoBrain.

The remaining members of Metallica -- lead singer/guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, and guitarist Kirk Hammett -- have not named a replacement for Newsted and are working on a new studio album as a three-piece.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Although James Taylor's next album for Columbia Records won't be out until the late spring/early summer of 2002, the 1998 Billboard Century Award winner is already testing some new songs on the road, including "Fourth of July," "Raised Up Family," and "Whenever You're Ready." "The response has been good," he says. "Occasionally, someone will yell, 'Get back to work!' and I don't know if that means it's not good enough or they're anxious for me to finish so they can get it." Taylor will be on the road well beyond his annual summer tour, which began in June. He plays Wednesday (Oct. 3) in Phoenix, and has dates booked through Oct. 27 in Honolulu. As previously reported , he will be among the scores of artists on hand for the Concert for New York benefit, set for Oct. 20 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Taylor has been touring for a living since 1969, and yet playing live still holds a thrill for him. "My reasons for touring haven't changed at all," he says. "What makes it so doable is the audience is good. I like them as people; they treat me well. I sometimes think I like the audience too much. I lust after the audience. My audience probably knows me pretty well. I've been, in a sense, a professional autobiographer for a long period of time."

A guest-starring role on the Showtime series "Soul Food" has turned into a recurring role for Naughty by Nature's Treach. The rapper portrays the street-wise Philky, a friend of Lim (the character played by Darrin Henson). Treach says, "Philky is an old friend of Lim's from his street days who helps him through some tough situations. He's the rough edge that the show needed." Treach -- who also operates his own company, Illtown Films -- says he especially enjoys the atmosphere on the "Soul Food" set. "I like the family vibe both on camera and behind the scenes," he says. "Working with the crew and cast wasn't like work. It was family. I especially liked working with the kids. They were so professional. As far as the show, it's important for people to have different images of black families." With a list of acting gigs to his credit as well as the new Naughty by Nature album, "iicons," due in February, Treach is juggling careers, but doesn't feel compelled to choose one over the other. "That's for the people to decide," he says. "I don't consider it. I strive to give fans my best either way."