Violent Femmes leader Gordon Gano called out some heavyweight friends to sing lead on some tracks on his first solo album. On board are Lou Reed and fellow Velvet Undergrounder John Cale, Polly Jean Harvey, Frank Black and Mary Lou Lord--as well as Gano's sister, Cynthia Gayneau, who uses the original spelling of the family name. . . .

The Offspring, whose first album for Columbia Records, 1996's "Ixnay on the Hombre," sold a solid 1 million in the U.S. and another 1.4 million internationally, is set to start work on a follow-up with producer Dave Jerden. . . .

"Top of the World," a new song done by Chumbawamba in connection with the World Cup soccer competition starting this week in France, will be included on an album collecting tracks from the band's eight albums that preceded its 1997 hit "Tubthumper." Meanwhile, Bay Area media provocateurs Negativland--notorious for a big legal battle with U2 over sampling--have been asked to do a remix of "Drip, Drip, Drip," the new single from "Tubthumper."

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