Click on the cover to buy it at Amazon

The White Stripes, "Fell In Love With A Girl" CD single (XL Recordings)
Peggy Honeywell, Honey For Dinner (Galaxia)

Has there ever been a record company gimmick as shameless as the two-part CD single? (Well, I'm sure there's contenders I'm forgetting at the moment). It's largely a British phenomenon: putting out two CD singles with the same "hit" track, but with differing b-sides, thereby roping in the fans (who already have the "hit" track on the full-length album, most likely) to shell out double. "Fell In Love With A Girl," the first single off the White Stripes' White Blood Cells LP since it's been picked up by a major, is now available in this collectors-cum format. One of the CDs offers tracks from the Stripes' first two independently-released 45s, which have been seen on eBay for over $100. Not that XL is performing much of a public service, as they've only included the A-sides for each single, and with the space on a CD, there's really no excuse. Skip it and write to the original label, Italy Records, which has repressed both 45s and is selling them for human prices once again. But do pick up the other CD single, for the fantastic cover tunes it offers. There's a live version of Bob Dylan's "Love Sick" that's worth the import price alone. It's heartening to see a band choose a newer Dylan track—in this case, what was far and away the best song off 1997's Time Out Of Mind—when they're in the mood to cover rock's poet laureate. I think it's a healthy sign: critics have spilled plenty of ink over Dylan's last couple of records, comparing them with the best of his early work, but the proof of their longevity will be partly borne out by their power to enter the public consciousness to the same degree as their predecessors—one of the ways being the speed and frequency with which they enter other musicians' repertoires (remember that when Jimi Hendrix re-invented "All Along The Watchtower," it wasn't an established golden oldie yet). The fact that the Stripes' take on the song is a knockout seals the deal. Jack White's got a voice that can pack an enormous amount of heartache into its delivery without ever coming across as maudlin or histrionic, and his cry of "I'm sick of love/ I wish I'd never met you," paired with his meaty guitar onslaught and Meg White's crashing drums, must make Dylan proud. In keeping with the sad love song theme, there's also a version of Burt Bacharach's "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," from a recent BBC session. White rearranges it Nirvana-style, with quiet verses and loud choruses, and removes the saccharine from the original by veering off into a bit of off-pitch screaming and guitar feedback at its most explosive moments. It works wonders. The CD includes the video for "Fell In Love With A Girl" as well, but as my iMac didn't want to run it properly, I can't comment on it.

Click on the cover to buy it at Amazon

Who is Peggy Honeywell? Despite the rural, homespun flavor of her debut recording, and the photo that would lead one to believe she walked off the set of Little House On The Prairie, there are a few clues that she's not an isolated naif. The presence of hip session musician David Pajo is a tip-off, as are phrases such as "your mysterious architectural manifest." From what I gather, she's actually a Philadelphia artist named Clare Rojas (she also contributes the artwork on the cover) who frequents that city's open mic scene. Whatever her background may be, Honey For Dinner is a modest charmer (modest indeed: the album clocks in at 21 minutes sharp). She's got a sweet voice that has just the right amount of lazy seduction (I like the way she curls herself around the line "I'll buy you a tropical mango/ Or any candy that's as sweet as you" in "Darlin Man"), and her mostly-acoustic country/folk ditties have an unvarnished appeal to them. With the exception of the last track—a run-through of "All Shook Up" that appears to date from the days before she had honed her craft, to put it kindly—Honey For Dinner is an unpretentious winner that's worth a listen.

James Lindbloom