The 50th anniversary of Monty Python’s Flying Circus – which first on aired on BBC One on October 5, 1969 – is being celebrated with a glut of Pythons-related activity.
Kicking off the anniversary celebrations, from 1 September, the BFI Southbank will curate a month-long season celebrating Monty Python, featuring all the Monty Python feature films, oddities and curios from the depths of the BFI National Archive, back-to-back screenings of the entire series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, plus a free Pythons exhibition.
Also in September, BBC Radio 4 will premiere five new radio specials, executive produced by Michael Palin, which will feature never-before-released material from the Monty Python sound archives.
Monty Python Sings (Again) will be released for the first time on double vinyl, with the addition of the “Stephen Hawking Sings Monty Python… Galaxy Song” track and new packaging artwork overseen by Terry Gilliam. Meanwhile all four series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, along with unseen and excised footage, sketches and much more, will be remastered for DVD and Blu-Ray in an exclusive 50th anniversary limited-edition box set.
Other activity includes books, TV specials, a Monty Python IPA and a world record attempt for the “Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Gumbys”.
Commenting on their enduring legacy, the group said: “Python has survived because we live in an increasingly Pythonesque world. Extreme silliness seems more relevant now than it ever was.”
Take it easy with Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan and more
A week ago, shortly after we finished work on this latest special edition, I received confirmation that it had indeed been the right thing to do. For sure, it’s proving to be a great summer for soft, what with Fleetwood Mac in the UK, Katie Puckrik’s yacht rock doc on the BBC, and the Eagles tour rolling peacefully and easily onwards.
Probably the strongest possible indicator of the enduring quality of this music came at a less pricily-ticketed event: the summer concert at my kids’ school. As the evening drew to its close, a couple of dozen kids filed into the hall with instruments. This, unmistakably, was the big finish.
And what a finish. There were a few wrong notes it was true, but there was denying it: the band was playing “Africa” by Toto. Right now the song is playing, solar-powered and for eternity, in the Namib desert. I would contend, though, that a greater endorsement of the song’s enduring softness is its survival of a group performance in a British primary school.
The original version appears in our Top 40 Soft Rock singles list, which you can listen to here. It’s gonna take a lot to drag you away, but while you listen, here’s my introduction to the magazine.
John Robinson, editor
Traditionally, the Schaefer Stadium at Foxboro Massachusetts was home to the NFL team the New England Patriots. On a summer day in the mid-1970s however, it played host to a rather less aggressive intimacies than those offered by American Football. It became the spiritual home of soft rock.
On July 25th 1976, you paid your $9 and were gently blown away. Those sharing memories of the event online report an event almost pre-loaded with nostalgic power. Never mind being young and it being high summer: if you got there in good time, you’d have seen the Eagles, who headlined, arrive by helicopter. Earlier, Fleetwood Mac, their support band on this short tour, played “Over My Head” from their recent eponymous album, as the sun set.
One anonymous poster recalled how his attendance at the concert was a pinnacle of his courtship – the super-smooth Silk Degrees album by opening act Boz Scaggs having provided much of its soundtrack. “Went to this concert on a whim,” the commenter wrote, “after a little ‘afternoon delight’ with my girl (later my wife).”
A good whim on what sounds to have been a pretty good day for all concerned – you might see it as something like a victory lap for a style of music which had been evolving slowly since the late 1960s, and which would reign oblivious to other influential musical activity – say prog or punk – for much of the 1970s and into the 1980s.
If “soft rock” feels like a pejorative name for it, think again. Gentleness, as you’ll read Erin Osmon discuss in her exploration of Fleetwood Mac, was a pivotal, empowering feature of that band’s best-known work. Also, consider some of the alternatives. “AOR” feels a bit more business than pleasure. “Yacht rock” is a pretty hip, Steely Dan-like term of endearment for some of this music, but it’s a bit niche, which isn’t something you could ever say of the Eagles or Linda Ronstadt. And “Guilty pleasures”? Forget it. So if I’m down with “Africa” by Toto we have to… what exactly? Duel?
We’ll call it soft rock and – as with all the titles in the evolving Ultimate Genre Guide series – think of it as a meeting point, not a straitjacket. Applying some of the confessional modes of the singer-songwriter to a smooth and melodic presentation, this music could involve great harmonies, traces of folk and blues (as in the phenomenally successful work of Fleetwood Mac) or country rock (as with our cover stars the Eagles). It was well-suited to the studio perfectionists (like, say, Supertramp) or to virtuoso musicians (like Steely Dan). It delivered classic albums to a huge public who enjoyed appreciating their subtleties on quality audio systems, and who had the money to buy them in vast quantities. And, as Mark Beaumont will explain, it delivered some fantastic singles too.
Hopefully this magazine will be a path to your discovery, or rediscovery of those and much more of this music. Whenever you find your delight, enjoy, and take it easy.
Ultimate Genre Guide: Soft Rock is in shops now, or available to buy online here.
Official launch attended by Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler
Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images
Home Of Metal’s flagship exhibition Black Sabbath – 50 Years opens today at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, running until September 29.
Black Sabbath’s answer to recent successful exhibitions showcasing the careers of Pink Floyd and David Bowie, it features over 1000 items of memorabilia, stagewear, instruments, iconic artefacts and treasured personal items sourced direct from the band members.
The official launch was attended yesterday by Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi, who has overseen a recreation of his home studio for the exhibition.
“It’s one of the proudest moments you could have,” Iommi told Uncut. “I recall about 30 years ago a local newsreader saying, ‘A monument for Black Sabbath, can you imagine?’ It was a bit of a joke. And of course, now, here it is – we’ve got the bridge, the bench and now the museum.”
For more information and tickets, visit the Home Of Metal website. You can read much more from Tony Iommi in the current issue of Uncut, in shops now or available to buy online by clicking here.
Brittany Howard - History Repeats (Official Audio) - YouTube
“‘History Repeats’ is as much a personal song as it is a song about us as a human species,” says Howard. “Our times of success may propel us forward, but our repeating failures hold us back from evolving into harmony.”
Howard’s band on Jaime includes Alabama Shakes bassist Zac Cockrell, jazz keyboard player Robert Glasper and drummer Nate Smith. It was recorded at engineer Shawn Everett’s LA studio.
Jaime is named after Howard’s sister, who taught her to play the piano and write poetry, and who died of cancer when they were still teenagers. “The title is in memoriam, and she definitely did shape me as a human being,” Howard says. “But, the record is not about her. It’s about me. I’m pretty candid about myself and who I am and what I believe. Which is why I needed to do it on my own.”
See Howard’s tour itinerary, including a date a London’s EartH, below. Tickets go on general sale for all UK/European dates on Friday July 5 at 10am. You can pre-order the album here for access to a ticket pre-sale.
17th August | Asheville, NC | Orange Peel
18th August | Asheville, NC | Orange Peel
19th August | Nashville, TN | Ryman Auditorium
23rd August | Washington, DC | 9:30 Club
24th August | Washington, DC | 9:30 Club 29th August | London | Hackney EartH
2nd September | Amsterdam | Paradiso
4th September | Paris | Alhambra
18th September | Milwaukee, WI | Riverside Theater
19th September | St. Paul, MN | Palace Theatre
20th September | Chicago, IL | Riviera Theatre
22nd September | Toronto, ON | Rebel
24th September | New York, NY | Beacon Theatre
25th September | Boston, MA | House of Blues
27th September | Philadelphia, PA | The Fillmore
5th October | Austin, TX | ACL Festival
8th October | Los Angeles, CA | Theatre at Ace Hotel
9th October | Los Angeles, CA | Theatre at Ace Hotel
12th October | Austin, TX | ACL Festival
13th October | Atlanta, GA | AfroPunk Festival
Alongside Bremner and Suki Waterhouse, new additions to the cast include Steven Berkoff, Paul Kaye, Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter), Thomas Turgoose (This is England), Rufus Jones (W1A) and Mel Raido (Legend), as well as comedian Ed Byrne. It hasn’t been revealed who they’ll all be playing, although characters such as Bobby Gillespie, Noel Gallagher and Kevin Shields are expected to feature.
No release date for the film has been set, but you can follow the shoot at Creation Stories’ official Facebook page here.
“We are all heartbroken, but want to share what a great human being Elliot has been,” writes Young. “Never one to think about himself, he put everyone else first. That’s what he did for me for over fifty years of friendship love and laughter, managing my life, protecting our art in the business of music…
“Elliot was the funniest human being on earth with his uncanny wit and a heart filled with love. You never knew what he was going to say, but almost always a laugh was coming… This world is forever changed for me, for all who knew him and loved him. His memory shines with love.”
A key figure in the rise of LA’s Laurel Canyon music scene of the late-’60s and ’70s, Roberts – born Elliot Rabinowitz – helped to set up Asylum Records along with his business partner of the time, David Geffen. He managed Joni Mitchell until 1985, and also at times managed CSNY, Eagles, America, Tom Petty, Tracy Chapman, Jackson Browne, Tegan & Sara and The Cars.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Graham Nash said: “He was the glue that kept CSNY together in our early years and I will certainly miss him with sadness in my heart.” Stephen Stills said that Roberts was “probably the kindest, gentlest, and far and away the funniest man I ever worked with in Show Business.”
A full Elliot Roberts obituary will appear in the next issue of Uncut.
Joan of Arc live at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia, PA on 9.18.1999 - YouTube
I was 18 when this came out and at the San Francisco Art Institute, and it was really influential, on constant rotation. I can’t quite explain why, but the cover was playful and cerebral, the titles were clever and funny, and the lyrics were just mercurial enough that I couldn’t quite penetrate them, so that was seductive. At the beginning of my career I liked to cloak, and to use symbolism and metaphor.
Sun Ra We Travel The Space Ways 1967
We Travel the Spaceways - YouTube
I discovered Sun Ra through Andy Cabic [of Vetiver], who is something of an older brother to me and has an oceanic record collection. I remember sitting in Andy’s apartment when he put this on and being completely blown away by the album art and by the songs, each one of which felt like a lesson. The music is cerebral and metaphysical at the same time, and led me to discover Ra as a philosopher.
Psychic TV Dreams Less Sweet 1983
PSYCHIC T.V. - The Orchids - YouTube
This is a perfect album; I think it’s a total masterpiece and turn to it very often. When you’re faced with an album like this, all you have are blanket statements, but “The Orchids” is one of the most beautiful pop songs I’ve ever heard, although it’s not representative. The title is perfect, too – it actually sounds like the title. It has a… I don’t know if I’d call it darkness, more an esotericism.
Harold Budd In The Mist 2011
Harold Budd - The Whispers - YouTube
I listen to a Harold Budd mix every day and I love all of his albums so much, but this is a good place to start. It influenced what I did on my last record. I have a song called “Für Hildegard Von Bingen” and he’s done a similar thing with real people, only much more elegantly. There’s a song called “The Art Of Mirrors (After Derek Jarman)” and I got into Jarman through Budd.
How The Rolling Stones frontman saved Rock And Roll Circus
The new issue of Uncut – in shops now, or available online by clicking here – includes an oral history of The Rolling Stones’ Rock And Roll Circus, the legendary 1968 concert film which found The Stones performing in full circus get-up alongside John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, The Who, Marianne Faithfull, Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull and a troupe of fire-eaters.
Talking exclusively to Uncut, the film’s director Michael Lindsay-Hogg remembers how, amid the chaos, The Stones were in danger of fluffing their headline turn – were it not for the determination of their indefatigable frontman, Mick Jagger.
“The Stones didn’t come on until two in the morning. They were the hosts; they’d been there all day, and we were now into December 12. The cameramen were weary. We did a couple of takes of each song. Glyn Johns and Jimmy Miller in the truck outside would ask for another take, or I would ask. Gradually, it started grinding them down. It had been a long day, and they were sapped.
“They were young and strong and vital, but they were also a bit wobbly – especially Brian, but also Keith. Pete Townshend said that Keith alternated between looking green and yellow – who knows what he was doing? – and Brian really wasn’t well. He’d let himself go, and didn’t have the constitution for it. It was sad. The night before the first rehearsal, he called me at 11pm and said, ‘I’m not going to come tomorrow. They’re being so mean to me; I don’t feel part of The Rolling Stones any more.’ I said, ‘You have to come, you are The Rolling Stones.’ So he did, but he was alienated.
“’Sympathy For The Devil’ was the one we’d all looked forward to. Coming up to five in the morning, we did a take, and it was no good. Mick, Keith, me and Allen Klein met and said, ‘Can we go on? Is it going to be dwindling returns? Shall we come back the next afternoon and try it again?’ But that wasn’t viable, it would have cost too much.
“Mick talked to the Stones and said they were going to do it. I talked to the camera crew and said, ‘This is going to be it.’ Mick then gave as great a rock’n’roll performance as I have ever seen. That’s him pulling out all the stops at five in the morning, pushing the entire band through. He’s saying, ‘Let my will be your will.’ It’s extraordinary. He used the camera as the audience. That’s what’s so interesting about the Stones’ performance, the connection between Mick and the camera, especially on ‘Sympathy For The Devil’. Pete said he really understood Mick Jagger for the first time that night, how he commanded the attention of the camera. For my money, he’s one of the three greatest performing artists of the last century.”
You can read much more of Michael Lindsay-Hogg on The Rolling Stones’ Rock And Roll Circus in the new issue of Uncut, on sale now with Bruce Springsteen on the cover.
A short “one-reeler” film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson will be launched on Netflix on the day of Anima’s release, set to three songs from the album. Watch a trailer for that below:
ANIMA | Paul Thomas Anderson | Thom Yorke | Teaser | Netflix - YouTube
Anima will be released on double vinyl, CD and digital formats, plus a deluxe double vinyl book edition. See more details and pre-order here, and check out the tracklisting below:
02 Last I Heard (…He Was Circling the Drain)
04 Dawn Chorus
05 I Am a Very Rude Person
06 Not the News
07 The Axe
08 Impossible Knots
10 Ladies And Gentlemen, Thank You For Coming [vinyl only]
His collection sells for £17m, with proceeds to ClientEarth
Photo by Polly Samson
David Gilmour’s collection of 126 guitars was auctioned off at Christie’s in New York yesterday, achieving a total sale of £16,935,185 – the most valuable musical instruments sale in auction history.
The prize lot was Gilmour’s 1969 Black Fender Stratocaster – ‘The Black Strat’ – integral to the recording of many Pink Floyd albums, including The Wall and Wish You Were Here. It sold for $3,975,000, setting a world auction record for a guitar.
Gilmour donated the proceeds from the auction to climate crisis charity ClientEarth. “The global climate crisis is the greatest challenge that humanity will ever face, and we are within a few years of the effects of global warming being irreversible,” he said in a statement “As Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist said in a speech earlier this year, ‘Either we choose to go on as a civilisation, or we don’t’. The choice really is that simple, and I hope that the sale of these guitars will help ClientEarth in their cause to use the law to bring about real change. We need a civilised world that goes on for all our grandchildren and beyond in which these guitars can be played and songs can be sung.”
Gilmour’s Martin D-35, played on “Wish You Were Here” and “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” sold for $1,095,000. A 1954 White Fender Stratocaster used on “Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 2 and 3)”, sold for $1,815,000. A 1955 Gibson Les Paul, famous for Gilmour’s guitar solo on “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)” sold for $447,000, a new auction record for a Gibson Les Paul, while a rare Gretsch White Penguin 6134 purchased by Gilmour in 1980 for his private collection, also realized $447,000 — a new auction record for a Gretsch.