MIDNIGHT METAL: Wondering what the Sunset Strip...

MIDNIGHT METAL: Wondering what the Sunset Strip branch of Tower Records did to attract such a huge crowd of headbangers at midnight last Sunday? Simple--the popular retail outlet (along with one of its sister stores in Anaheim) stayed open for an extra hour to put the new Metallica album on sale. Even though Tower only stayed open for an hour, the store's Strip outlet sold 375 copies--and its Anaheim branch moved nearly 500 copies of the much-anticipated album, which should debut ve-e-e-e-ry high on the Billboard charts this week. . . . Ending a brief hiatus, the Cult return next month with a new album titled "Ceremony," co-produced by Richie Zito. . . . The Beat Farmers, working under their favorite pseudonym the Incredible Hayseeds, will do a pair of die-hard C&W; shows at the Palomino Club this Friday and Saturday. . . . And Fairfax High has always been a great breeding ground for pop stars, from Phil Spector to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Who's next? One possibility is Eleven, a highly touted new L.A. band just signed to Morgan Creek Records that features a pair of Fairfax grads, guitarist Alain Johaness and drummer Jack Irons. (Irons actually played on a pair of Peppers' albums.) The group, which also features Russian-born keyboardist Natasha Shneider, has a new album, "Awake in a Dream," due out this month.

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