On first hearing Edwyn Collins' hit "A Girl Like You," more than a few unacquainted Americans thought that Iggy Pop had decided to make another soft-pop hit, along the lines of "Candy." What they didn't know was that they were hearing the grown-up leader of the early '80s Scottish cult group Orange Juice. It took nearly 20 years for Americans to welcome a man who has always touted American music as his primary influence, but Collins is not bitter. His talent influenced both the Smiths and Wedding Present, and these days the old-schoolers lend support to his new projects: Collins tours with Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and Morrissey guitarist Boz Boorer, and the Fall's Mark E. Smith sings a song on his new album, I'm Not Following You. In keeping with Collins' unwavering sense of humor, the record both celebrates and mocks Western foibles -- Adidas, country rock, supermodels, cake-decorating devices, and the '70s -- under a drape of analog synth lines, witty prose, and a rich, somewhat sepulchral voice from the past. Edwyn Collins performs at Bimbo's 365 Club on Thursday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m. Mover open. Tickets are $10; call 474-0365.
Featuring former members of Her Majesty the Baby and the industrial performance group Vivisection, XSX combine tribal ritualism, experimental theater, and aural corruption into a beast that lurks within the dark passages of Diamanda Galas, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Dead Can Dance. The mix is sinister and intimidating, but somehow lovely, too. XSX perform at the Cat's Alley Club on Thursday, Nov. 20, at 9 p.m. Tickets are free before 11 p.m.; call 431-3332. "Matrix," a darkwave-industrial dance night with DJs Mephisto and Noire, follows.
What do a Puerto Rican professor, a white-trash upstart, and a former Black Panther have in common? When it's Martin Espada, Dorothy Allison, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, the answer is artistic censorship. Considered the "Latino voice of his generation," Espada was hired as a regular commentator by NPR -- a high-paying gig for any poet, award-winning or otherwise. Unfortunately, for an NPR-commissioned poem for All Things Considered, Espada decided to write about Abu-Jamal, an award-winning former NPR radio journalist who has been on death row for the last 16 years for killing a Philadelphia cop. (Abu-Jamal says it was self-defense.) Espada says he was fired because of the inflammatory nature of his subject. Dorothy Allison went through a similar difficulty after Ted Turner bought the rights to her intensely human and damning novel Bastard Out of Carolina, but then rejected a screenplay written by Angelica Huston because it unblinkingly dealt with incest. "All Things Censored: From the NEA to NPR" proudly presents Espada and Allison, reading their own words and the commentaries of Abu-Jamal. Amy Goodman from Pacifica Radio's national show Democracy Now! and Cherrie Moraga from the Drama Divas program -- a youth-focused, gay and lesbian organization that was singled out in the last round of NEA attacks -- will also speak. The program will benefit Brava! for Women in the Arts and the San Francisco-based Prison Radio Project. Readings will be held at the Brava Theater Center on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25-50 (a $100 ticket includes a 5:30 p.m. reception); call 648-2822.
Did I mention that everyone should be going to the eighth annual WAMMIES, which is SF Weekly's local music awards show? The Kinetics and Vinyl are playing and it's like this: If you don't go, you're a bad person. Celebrate the local music scene at Bimbo's 365 Club on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 474-0365 or 541-0700 for details.
-- Silke Tudor