The Who! Blue Note! Dr John! Tarantino! Joan Shelley!
Let’s begin in New York, where Nick Hasted catches up with The Who in the aftermath of a typically incendiary show at Madison Square Garden. Over a series of extensive interviews, Nick discovers plenty about the weird logistics of The Who’s 2019 – involving a symphonic reworking of Tommy, an orchestral tour and their first new studio album for 13 years. What do we learn about this latest, long-awaited opus? I don’t want to give too much away, of course, but depending who you believe it has either “some of the best Who songs since Quadrophenia” or else, “It’s our best album since Who’s Next.” Beyond that, though, Nick’s interview highlights the exceptionally complex relationship Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend have with their back catalogue – and with each other – and asks how long they can continue to operate at such a high level. “I don’t know what people want out of The Who any more,” admits Daltrey.
A few months ago, I received a letter from Alan English, one of our readers, who mentioned that, among other things, he was beginning to explore jazz – and, in particular, 1950s Blue Note albums. “I am sure there are many like me,” he wrote, “who would appreciate a good primer series on the label from a knowledgeable writer.” Serendipitously, we were already beavering away on an extensive survey of the label’s greatest albums. And I hope Alan will be pleased to learn that we haven’t solicited the talents of just one writer. For this Herculean task we have assembled an illustrious lineup of musicians, jazzers and assorted heads to assist us in compiling a definitive Blue Note Top 30. Rather than add to this challenge by trying to rank them in order of merit, we chose to arrange them by release date, beginning with Sonny Rollins on Bud Powell’s The Amazing Bud Powell from 1952 and ending with Cassandra Wilson on Don Byron’s 2000 album, A Fine Line: Arias And Lieder. Rollins and Wilson are just two of the artists involved; you’ll find contributions from Robert Wyatt, Kamasi Washington, Michael Chapman, Matthew E White, Norah Jones, Shabaka Hutchings, Bobby McFerrin, Nubya Garcia and John McLaughlin, among many others.
Elsewhere, we bid fond farewell to Dr John, visit Joan Shelley at home in rural Kentucky, meet Quentin Tarantino on the set of his latest film, reconnect with a Lucinda Williams classic, (shoe)gaze at Ride’s illustrious career to date and talk acid trips, horror films and sausage dogs with Ty Segall. It is, I’m proud to say, one of our finest issues. Enjoy!
You Never Give Me Your Money (Remastered 2009) - YouTube
This is the first album I remember recognising as a connected body of songs. When I was three years old, I thought these songs were fairy tales and assumed my parents were playing the album for my benefit. We could hear the whole recording on vinyl at home, but our VW Bug had an eight-track player with a broken speaker, so we only got half the instrumentation and sometimes only backing vocals. Both versions, partial and full, sounded equally great to me. I’m not one to choose a favourite Beatles album, but this one has a special place, being my first real album memory.
Harry Nilsson The Point! 1971
Think About Your Troubles - YouTube
This was introduced to me by a boyfriend of my mum’s, and I fell in love with the story and the vibe immediately. I also loved the movie, and this was my soundtrack for at least a solid year of childhood. When Tom Gorman and I started hanging out a lot pre-Belly, this album came up one night and we discovered that this boyfriend of my mother’s was also a friend of the Gorman folks and had introduced the Gorman kids to this music also, which led to us covering “Think About Your Troubles” as a B-side – my favourite one.
The Go-Go’s Beauty And The Beat
The Go-Go's - We Got The Beat - YouTube
This was the first album that I ever bought with money that I’d earned myself, and to this day it’s still one of my smartest and best purchases. The joy and subtextual giddy middle-finger at the heart of this album was a revelation, and I still put this on to pull myself out of a funk, or to celebrate something, or to dance with my kids. The sounds are great, and the songs are pearls – I love each of these women individually, I love this album, I love The Go-Go’s.
Kate Bush The Kick Inside
Kate Bush - Them Heavy People (1978) (Live) - YouTube
Oh God, where to start? My first sighting of Kate Bush was on Saturday Night Live performing “Them Heavy People” – my sister Kristin was with me and I remember saying something like, “What is she doing?” or “What is happening right now?”, or something along those lines. I felt like everything that was musically possible expanded for me in those three minutes. Honestly, I never recovered from it! Kate validated my inner goth romantic, and I am still head over heels for her. Hounds Of Love is another one of my most-loved albums.
A telephone line crackles. “Hello,” says a voice, “it’s Ringo here.” My sole encounter with Ringo – to date – is a phoner interview. 30 minutes, on the button, for Uncut’s An Audience With… feature. Even so, despite these unpromising circumstances, the interview itself was great fun. Conducted while Ringo was holed up in an LA hotel doing press for his then-current album, Postcards From Paradise, here was a man of not inconsiderable wit and charisma, whose opening line went, “I was just in the car coming here, ‘Eight Days A Week’ was on the radio and it rocked.” Fair enough, you might think.
Ringo’s mood – playful, generous – was perhaps encouraged by the fact that the questions – submitted by readers as well as fans and contemporaries including Paul Weller, Marianne Faithfull and Jeff Lynne – were not restricted to those magical eight years in the Fabs. Starr gamely fielded questions about Twitter, Butlins, Peter Sellers, Harry Nilsson and Frank Zappa. He also provided some amusing insight into the early ’60s rivalry between the era’s top tier. Did you have any good nicknames for other bands?, went one question. “Bastards,” he deadpanned without missing a beat.
If anything, the interview proved Ringo was a man of many accomplishments – both with and outside of The Beatles. As our latest Ultimate Music illustrates, Ringo wore many hats – Beatle, solo artist, actor and latterly band leader with his All-Starr Band collective, now in its 30th year.
You’ll find all these different elements brought vividly to life in archive interviews from Melody Maker and NME, brand new in-depth reviews of every Ringo album, Ringo on film, rarities, comps, lives and much more. It’s in shops from this Friday — but you can buy it right now from our online store.
“In my mind I was as out-there as Mark E Smith!” explains Stuart Murdoch, as he takes us through eight records that have blown him away over the years. Originally published in Uncut’s Take 196 issue.
The Go-Betweens Tallulah 1987
The Go-Betweens - You Tell Me - YouTube
When I moved to Glasgow from a provincial seaside town, a new sound was seeping into my blood, something more poetic and arty. I remember going to a club in Greenock and hearing The Go-Betweens for the first time. Their new record then was Tallulah. Great melodies, great stories – and they had two great songwriters, a rarity. This was a point in my life when music superseded every other ambition I had.
10,000 Maniacs In My Tribe 1987
A Campfire Song - YouTube
Natalie Merchant ticked all my boxes. She was quite weird, a bit hippyish and punky, but with gorgeous melodies and a unique voice. I love singers who seem to delight in the words they conjure up. Before this, pop and rock was just something
I consumed, but this was a step up, becoming obsessed with this area of music.
The Fall Bend Sinister 1986
The Fall - Gross Chapel - British Grenadiers - YouTube
This was the first time I got to grips with The Fall and fell in love with them. This was a golden period – they were firing on all cylinders, and they had Brix Smith in the band mixing it up. I didn’t know what Mark E Smith was talking about half the time, but in my mind I was as out-there as him, staying up reading Nabokov and walking down the street with the madness of being up all night.
Regina Spektor Fidelity 2006
Regina Spektor - "Fidelity" [Official Music Video] - YouTube
This captures one aspect of the job I do better than anything else. It’s about having a romance with the creation of music itself – it goes to a point where the writer doesn’t need anything else. She says, “I never loved nobody fully/Always one foot on the ground”, because music is always her first thing, and at any moment a song might come along and will demand more of her than that person could.
New Devendra Banhart, Brittany Howard, Oh Sees and plenty more...
Apologies, I’ve been on holiday so a little catching up going on here. Lots of good stuff – nice to have Devendra and Brittany back as well as Floating Points. The new Oh Sees is amazing, too. Plenty here, anyway; dig in.
Oh, and in case you missed it – here’s my half-time report on some of my favourite albums of the year so far…
Conscious that today is the Summer Solstice, so with that in mind I’ve rounded up my favourite new albums of the year so far; specifically those released between January until the end of June. They’re listed in sort of chronological order, in case you’re interested; certainly not by any kind of preferential ranking.
Anyway, I hope it provides further evidence of the year’s abundant musical riches. There’s a lot of great new music coming down the pipe, too; some of which I’ll share with you as soon as I’m permitted.
1. Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow (Jagjaguwar)
2. Cass McCombs – Tip Of The Sphere (Anti-)
3. Steve Gunn – The Unseen In Between (Matador)
4. William Tyler – William Tyler Goes West (Merge)
5. Michael Chapman – True North (Paradise Of Bachelors)
6. Beirut – Gallipoli (4AD)
7. Robert Forster – Inferno (Tapete Records)
8. Lambchop – This (is what I wanted to tell you) (City Slang)
9. Chris Forsyth – All Time Present (No Quarter)
10. Big Thief – UFO-F (4AD)
11. Garcia Peoples – Natural Facts (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond)
12. Alex Rex – Otterburn (Tin Angel)
13. Stephen Malkmus – Groove Denied (Domino)
14. Jenny Lewis – On The Line (Warners)
15. Pond – Tasmania (Marathon Artists)
16. Bill MacKay – Pre-California (Drag City)
17. Kel Assouf – Black Tenere (Glitterbeat)
18. The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce (Impulse! Records)
19. Wand – Laughing Matter (Drag City)
20. Terry Allen and the Panhandle Mystery Band – Pedal Steal + Four Corners (Paradise Of Bachelors)
21. Julia Jacklin – Crushing (Transgressive)
22. White Denim – Side Effects (City Slang)
23. Mac DeMarco – Here Comes The Cowboy (Mac’s Record Label)
24. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising (Sub Pop)
25. Bill Callahan – Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest (Drag City)
26. Visible Cloak, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano – serenitatem (RVNG Intl)
27. The National – I Am Easy To Find (4AD)
28. Aldous Harding – Fixture Picture (4AD)
29. Solange – When I Get Home (RCA)
30. Jake Xerxes Fussell – Out Of Sight (Paradise Of Bachelors)
31. Beth Gibbons and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra present – Gorecki Symphony 3 (Domino)
32. Dream Syndicate – These Times (Anti-)
33. Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (4AD)
34. PJ Harvey – All About Eve (Invada)
35. The Black Keys – “Let’s Rock” (Nonesuch)
36. Black Peaches – Fire In The Hole (Hanging Moon)
37. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains (Drag City)
38. Rose City Band – Rose City Band (Audiam)
39. Bedouine – Birds Songs Of A Killjoy (Hanging Moon)
40. Calexico And Iron & Wine – Years To Burn (City Slang)
41. Guided By Voices – Warp & Woof (GBV Inc)
42. Bruce Hornsby – Absolute Zero (Thirty Tigers)
43. Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Servants Of The Sun (Silver Arrow)
44. Vanishing Twin – The Age Of Immunology (Fire)
45. Jeff Tweedy – Warmer (DBPM)
46. Lloyd Cole – Guesswork (Earmusic)
47. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars (Columbia)
48. Mega Bog – Dophine (Paradise Of Bachelors)
49. Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18 – Jola (Banana & Louie)
50. Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger (XL)
51. The Quiet Temple – The Quiet Temple (Point Of Departure)
52. Jane Weaver – Loops In The Secret Society (Fire)
53. House And Land – Across The Field (Thrill Jockey)
54. Night Moves – Can You Really Find Me (Domino)
55. Flying Lotus – Flamagra (Warp)
56. Trash Kit – Horizon (Upset The Rhythm)
57. The Flaming Lips – King’s Mouth (Bella Union)
58. 75 Dollar Bill – I Was Real (tak:til/ Glitterbeat)
My main memories of Oasis‘ imperial phase are less to do with the music but, rather curiously, more about lingering transport issues. I’d like to say I have splendidly resonant memories of Knebworth; alas, all I really remember is getting lost in an inadequately signposted makeshift car park in a field. For Maine Road, it’s getting lost somewhere on the outskirts of Manchester and being hassled at a red light by some lads who offered to look after the car for £20. My memories of Earl’s Court, meanwhile, chiefly concern the difficult passage from West London with 20,000 other people on a poorly maintained District line.
Thankfully, our latest deluxe, enhanced Ultimate Music Guide is a welcome reminder of Liam, Noel and co in their youthful prime and beyond. This edition has been updated to include new writing on Liam and Noel solo, an intro and last words from Liam – and his life in pictures. Among its many qualities, the bookazine underscores the sheer speed of their ascent – “Three years from the Boardwalk to playing to quarter of a million people in a field,” notes Bonehead in the intro to the original 2014 edition of this UMG.
Oasis – Ultimate Music Guide (Deluxe Edition) in the shops – just in time for the 25th anniversary of Definitely Maybe – but you can also order it by clicking here.
And here, to whet your appetite, is more from Bonehead…
Me, Liam, Guigs and Tony had The Rain going. We had a handful of songs, but nothing that was going to set the world on fire. Noel was touring with the Inspiral Carpets, and when he got back, he got wind we were in a band. He said to Liam, “Can I come down to rehearsal and have a bit of a jam with you?” We were like “Yeah, not a problem. Send him down.”
So he came in and said, “I’ve got a few songs written, shall we have a jam through them?” We said, “Go on then.” It was like us witnessing our first Oasis concert really: “Live Forever”, “Cigarettes And Alcohol”, all these songs. “I’ve got another one…” “What’s it called?” “’Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’”. “Shit title mate, but let’s have a listen.” It blew us away, really. It was like, “hang on a minute – these are fucking songs…”
Noel’s got a heap of attitude, but he didn’t walk in like “I’ve got these songs so I’m taking control…” We spent a couple of weeks jamming. It was more a case of “Is it OK if I join your band?” “Well – yeah.” It was a bunch of mates making a racket – but a great racket. This was in a rehearsal space called the Red House in Manchester, opposite where the Inspirals had their office. It’s probably apartments now.
Then we moved on to the Boardwalk. We thought, “We’ve got something here, we need a regular space” so we moved there. We were religious in our routine. Guigs had a 9-5 for British Telecom, so he would leave there and go straight down the Boardwalk, we’d all be there shortly after. We’d do that every night, even Friday. People would say, “Come and have a beer” and we’d be like: “No. We’re doing this.” We knew we were onto something.
Freewheeling and mischievous companion piece to the latest Dylan box set
For anyone wondering what Bob Dylan thinks of Bob Dylan, you’re unlikely to find answers in Martin Scorsese’s excellent, playful new documentary. Asked to articulate his thoughts on the Rolling Thunder charabanc, Dylan looks momentarily perplexed then exasperated. “It was over 40 years ago,” he exclaims. “I wasn’t even born then!”
For Dylan, of course, the obsessive camouflaging of truths has been a career-long undertaking – and to an extent, Scorsese’s Netflix documentary is similarly obfuscatory. Subtitled a “Bob Dylan story”, the film weaves concert footage and contemporary interviews in with a handful mischievous subplots. This is more than just a companion piece to the recent Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings set or a boisterous cousin to the director’s 2005 documentary No Direction Home. It’s a three-dimensional, metatextual romp showing Dylan’s joyous excursion through the troubled heart of mid-’70s America. Freewheeling, in every sense.
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese | Trailer | Netflix - YouTube
The footage – much of it taken from Dylan’s impressionistic road movie Renaldo And Clara – is rich and varied. Here’s Dylan and Patti Smith, halfway up a staircase, talking about the universe during a party in Greenwich Village; there’s Joni Mitchell, Dylan and Roger McGuinn playing “Coyote” at Gordon Lightfoot’s house; there’s the full gang enjoying a fun day out to Niagara Falls on a day off. Meanwhile, Allen Ginsberg acts as a kind of one-man Greek chorus for the proceedings, delivering idiosyncratic monologues to camera. Chaos is never far away.
But if your tolerance for watching semi-stoned musicians exchanging goofy bantz on the tour bus wears thin, no matter – the onstage footage presents different, more dynamic pleasures. A full-length version of “Isis” captures the tour’s seductive musical groove, with the band managing to somehow sound compellingly loose and tight at the same time, underpinned by Mick Ronson’s heavy, blocky chords.
To complement this archive material, Scorsese and Rosen have mustered an impressive cast list of survivors for contemporary perspective. Joan Baez is especially funny and forthright: “Did I have any reservations about going on the tour?” she asks rhetorically. “Have you ever been on the road with Bob Dylan?” It is lovely to see Sam Shepard – in an interviewed conducted a few years ago – while there are insights from McGuinn, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Rolling Stone writer Larry “Ratso” Sloman, boxer Ruben “Hurricane” Carter and others.
But all is not what it seems. We meet a European filmmaker who claims to have documented the tour. Then there is a Congressman who reveals deep connections between Dylan and Jimmy Carter. It all adds up to a lively dance between “what’s real and what is not”. Largely, though, these digressions add seasoning to the pot. They don’t even detract from the simple pleasure of watching Dylan, in the present day, at his most incorrigible. “Ramblin’ Jack Elliott?” he muses at one point. “He was a better sailor than a musician.” Which, perhaps, is as close to the truth as we’re going to get.
‘‘It was a chance to see if we could create the kind of world for which we’d been striving throughout the ’60s. That would be our political statement – proving that peace and understanding were possible and creating a testament to the value of the counterculture.” Welcome, then, to the new issue of Uncut, in shops from Thursday, June 13 and available to buy now.
That’s Michael Lang, organiser of Woodstock, reflecting on the ideals and motivations behind his legendary three-day festival as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. Such anniversaries, of course, are a critical motor for both the music industry at large and also for magazines such as Uncut. This month alone, in our Archive reviews section, you’ll find various anniversary editions under the spotlight, from Sigur Rós (2oth) to Ian Dury (40th) and The Grateful Dead (5oth). For Lang and the festival’s photographer Henry Diltz, though, they gratifyingly still see the spirit of Woodstock prevailing to the present day: “Woodstock didn’t signal the end of hippies,” says Diltz. “They went on to have kids and grandkids, so that whole movement is still alive in the form of people wanting to save the animals and the environment, with organisations like Greenpeace. That’s all part of the hippie generation.”
There is another milestone, of sorts, in our cover story as Stephen Deusner takes a long and deep trip into Bruce Springsteen’s first studio album in five years, Western Stars. A bold, big-hearted record, its dusty tales of movie stuntmen, wayfarers and desert denizens all feature a sense of yearning for human connection; a wish to “get to that place where we really wanna go” that Springsteen has been singing about since “Born To Run”. That Western Stars is released – finally – just a few months before Springsteen turns 70 adds an extra level of pathos to Stephen’s excellent piece, which includes the sobering thought: “At this stage in your life, you give up your dreams of immortality.”
Meanwhile, on another trip entirely, and with a little help from Mick, Keith and Bill, we celebrate the colourful hijinks perpetrated by rock’s most illustrious grandees at The Rolling Stones’ Rock And Roll Circus; John Robinson heads to Bristol for a seriously funny encounter with BEAK>; and Peter Watts reopens the doors on the infamous Flamingo Club for some proper old-school R&B shenanigans. Elsewhere, you’ll find Jimmy Cliff, Black Sabbath, Rickie Lee Jones, The Raconteurs, Doves, R.E.M., Billy Childish and The Raincoats, as well as a wealth of new music from Trash Kit, Mega Bog, 75 Dollar Bill and House And Land.
What else? Our free, 15-track CD contains a carefully curated selection of the best current music – including David Berman’s mighty Purple Mountains, The Black Keys, Allah-Las, The Flaming Lips and Lloyd Cole, among other gems. As I mentioned last month, 2019 is turning into a vintage year for new music. In the next issue, there’ll be more on one of my favourite albums of the year…
Bon Iver! Sleater-Kinney! Sufjan! Highlights from the Uncut office stereo
Photo by Charlie Engman
Busy weeks – so a little bit of catch-up here. The new Bon tracks are so good I’ve taken the liberty of including them both. Elsewhere, new/old jams from Howlin Rain and Bill Ryder-Jones, more good new music from Sufjan, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sleater-Kinney and King Gizzard. Dive in.