JIM SHEPARD, who committed suicide in 1998, produced an enormous body of work, much of it excellent and challenging, in his 44 years on earth. The musician and poet from Columbus, Ohio, was best known for his bands EGO SUMMIT, V-3, and VERTICAL SLIT, but he recorded and released music prolifically under his own name, though all of it is currently out of print. Heavy Action covers a wide swath of his career, encompassing live and unreleased material, scraps of spoken words, voicemails, tributes from the likes of DENNIS CALLACI, ROBERT POLLARD, DON HOWLAND, and NUDGE SQUIDFISH, and covers of BOB DYLAN, the GUN CLUB, and LEONARD COHEN. Shepard’s oeuvre is shot through with a red-hot fury—both lyrically and sonically—and this collection is heavy on the darkness with songs like “Loaded Gun” and “Star Power.” Listening to three LPs of his music at once was emotionally overwhelming, and I don’t think this is a great starting point for someone unfamiliar with his work (that would be V-3’s 1992 CD-only album Negotiate Nothing), but considering the scarcity of his numerous tapes and CDs and records, this is a place to start. Nicely packaged with liner notes by Tom Lax of Siltbreeze.