This week on the music beat

By Rob Brunner
Updated May 10, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ex Communication As any Richard and Linda Thompson fan knows, the duo — who chronicled their messy divorce on the classic Shoot Out the Lights — have about as much chance of working together as Suge Knight and P. Diddy. Well, surprise: Linda has recorded a stunning new CD, and it features Richard’s unmistakable guitar on opening track ”Dear Mary.” ”I talk to him all the time about other things, and I just asked,” she says. ”I thought it was the last thing he would want to do, but he said, ‘Sure.”’ Due out July 30, Fashionably Late is her first new album since 1985’s One Clear Moment and features their son Teddy (who cowrote many of the songs), Rufus Wainwright, Van Dyke Parks, and others. ”Some of the tunes are uncannily like Richard’s,” she says. ”It felt like a f — -ing time machine. I would kind of be transported between two eras. It was strange. I can hear it all in the record. Sometimes I’d look across the studio and say [to Teddy], ‘Richard, can you…’ I didn’t know where I was.” The result is a welcome return to the haunting sound of her best work. ”The catalyst for making it was my mother dying,” she says. ”I was unprepared for how I’d feel. I wanted to die. I absolutely fell apart. It was the most painful time of my life, the last few years. It’s a horrible, horrible truth, but I think good music is rooted in heartbreak.” So does this musical reconciliation mean we can expect a Plug in the Lights? ”I love that title,” she says with a laugh. ”I’m going to use it. Who knows? I never, ever thought he’d play on a record of mine, so…” — Rob Brunner

Third Watch Third Eye Blind, the pop-rockers who surfed their way to stardom with radio-friendly singles like ”Semi-Charmed Life,” are getting in touch with their indie side. Their Crystal Baller, due this summer, features cameos from such hipsters as Andrew W.K. and Moldy Peaches singer Kimya Dawson. ”It’s a lot different than the last record,” says bassist Arion Salazar. ”It’s gonna be less slick. It really rocks.” But the Blind boys haven’t ditched their mainstream sensibility. ”We write catchy tunes and get a lot of s — – for it,” says frontman-producer Stephan Jenkins, who blames his band’s bad image on the media. ”They hated the Police and Led Zeppelin. They thought Kiss was terrible.” So that’s how it’s going to be.