. . . the Grateful Dead take away Two days before Thanksgiving, the living remains of the Grateful Dead demanded that Archive.org remove its stash of 1,000 live Dead bootlegs, available on the site as free, high-quality mp3s since 2004. Why had the Dead even permitted “tape” trading to migrate online in the first place? Simple: They didn’t understand that sharing on the Web was a greater threat to revenues than the one-to-one phenomenon they long encouraged. Deadheads organized a massive online petition decrying the takedown, and a few days later the Dead allowed Archive.org to restore the boots as streams rather than downloads. The genie is halfway out of the bottle. Lesson: If you’re a musician in 2006, you better understand the Internet.

Eminem, “When I’m Gone” (Interscope) Eminem is famous! But unhappy. He’s rich! But paranoid. He’s fulfilled his potential! Yet is unsatisfied with his life. On one level, this new single from Curtain Call, his greatest-hits cash-in, is lazy. The music isn’t catchy or interesting. The producers responsible for the backing tracks pad around the MC like a distant cousin coddling fat Elvis to remain on the payroll. The beats are hollow and rote; the strings sound like synthesizers. At best, the track is unobtrusive. Eminem’s voice, however, retains its hypnotic cadences, emotional heft and dramatic pitch. His narrative counters the performer’s life against that of a young father. He voices his young daughter, Hailey, as she begs him to resist the lure of the stage. Suicide is considered, both literally and in terms of his career. If Em’s truly struggling with the possibility of retirement, let’s hope it takes a few more singles like this for him to figure it out.

Beck, “Que Onda Guero” (Team Shi Latino 96.3 Remix), online bootleg Let’s admit that Beck’s new album, Guero,and associated remix project, Guerolito, kind of suck. They’re not late-career pabulum, but they mark a “return to form” at best. That’s uninspiring from a collagist like Beck, who really needs to constantly refresh his source material. The original version of “Que Onda Guero” sounds like Beck c. ’96. This unauthorized remix, by L.A.’s noisy, high-concept punks the Mae Shi, proposes what his music might sound like if he kept his ear to the street. Imagine Beck walking around downtown L.A. on a hot summer day. Latino men pass by with pushcarts selling churros and inflatable crap from Toytown. A rough cholo rolls up in a souped-up hooptie playing urban hits from 96.3. A clown car passes, then an actual mariachi band. Beck ends up at a reggaeton festival at Staples Center. Greatness ensues.

Mitzvahpalooza Do you realize that pop stars are a bit crasser than the average human? No? Well, check out this photo album featuring shots from the bat mitzvah of David Brooks’ daughter. The defense contractor booked 50 Cent, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks and Aerosmith, reportedly paying each upward of a million dollars. Steven Tyler is pictured serenading the bat mitzvah girl while wearing a particularly large, metallic likeness of Jesus around his neck. 50 Cent’s choice of jewelry was more restrained. His crucifix was merely encrusted with diamonds. Oy vey!

Dueling Indie Divas,The Greatest(Matador) The new album by Cat Power, a.k.a. Chan Marshall, is yet another showcase for her haunted voice, this time backed by a handful of Al Green sidemen. It’s an effort to highlight her soulful Southern roots and extend her fan base beyond the world of indie-rock retail and into the racks at Starbucks. Marshall is intriguingly melancholic, and her cult will certainly grow, but so does my frustration with her rudderless torpor and slurred enunciation. Contrast this to Rilo Kiley lead singer Jenny Lewis on her solo debut, Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love). Lewis’ voice and fears are crystal clear on songs like “Rise Up With Fists”: “Who do you think you’re changing? . . . It’s like trying to clean the ocean/What do you think, you can drain it?/Well it was poison and dry long before you came.” Those lyrics may be harsh, but truth isn’t as pretty as romantic evasion. Official Web sites: www.catpowerthegreatest.com, www.team-love.com. Jenny Lewis plays the Vista Theater on February 2.

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