I don’t know if you saw it, but BBC2’s David Bowie documentary, Five Years, screened at the weekend, was very entertaining. A lot of the archive footage was familiar, but there were also some splendidly unexpected highlights, like a sequence of Bowie filmed at Andy Warhol’s Factory, which rather vividly suggested that Bowie’s talent for mime isn’t perhaps all it’s cracked up to be in which he pretended to unspool his own entrails and pluck out his heart, a performance that was doubtless accompanied by much sniggering from Andy's crowd.


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I would have bought the issue of Melody Maker in which I first read about Bruce Springsteen on my way into the art school in Newport, where in March 1973 I was in my last term, only a few months away from moving to London and not long after that fetching up on MM as a junior reporter/feature writer, a turn of events that was wholly unexpected and still seems somewhat unreal. Anyway, that was all to come. That Thursday morning, as ever in those days, I picked up a copy of MM at the paper shop at the top of Stow Hill, then eagerly devoured it on the bus into town.


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“I think I was reaching quite high from the beginning. I may not have had any right to be, but I was. I was always interested in people that were older than me and I looked up to them – people really from a different era to me: Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker, even writers like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. I wasn’t particularly influenced by my contemporaries. They weren’t very good.”


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There’s a great video on uncut.co.uk at the moment of Neil Young singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in affectionate celebration of Willie Nelson, who was, astonishingly, 80 last month.


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The last time I had occasion to write about my old friend BP Fallon in Uncut was in March, 2010, when he’d just released his debut single, produced by Jack White and released by Jack’s Third Man Records as the first in the label’s new Spoken Word-Instructional record Series. “Fame #9” was backed with “BP Fallon Interview By Jack White” and “I Believe In Elvis Presley”, on which White played some viperish slide guitar, with The Raconteurs’ Patrick Keeler on drums. There was also a video, featuring some of BP’s many friends, including Kevin Shields, Bobby Gillespie and Gemma Hayes.


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The full line-up for this year’s Great Escape festival in Brighton was announced today and along with it the line-up for the Uncut Stage at the Pavilion Theatre, where we’ll be hosting three nights of great music from May 16-May 18, with four bands each night. It’s probably our strongest-ever Great Escape bill and includes several of my own current favourites, among them Phosphorescent, Allah-Las, Lord Huron and Mikal Cronin, although there’s no one I’d really want to miss.


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“To make true political music,” the great American critic Greil Marcus wrote nearly 25 years ago, “you have to say what decent people don’t want to hear; that’s something that people fit for satellite benefit concerts will never understand, and that Elvis Costello understood before anyone heard his name.”


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When I first started reading what used to be Melody Maker, in a time now shrouded not so much in what are usually called the mists of time as they are in a fog as dense as anything that might gather over Dogger Bank, I used to accept its weekly delivery in the manner of some kind of jackal, cur or otherwise fanged and ravenous critter.


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Shameless plug coming your way! This Thursday, March 14, the next in our ongoing series of Ultimate Music Guides hits the shops. This one is dedicated to The Smiths.


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The world and nearly everyone in it has been reduced to trembling excitement by the return of David Bowie, but for some of us there is another recent resurrection perhaps even more miraculous and just as unexpected, a comeback by The Replacements, who today release online the Songs For Slim EP, their first new recordings in more than 20 years.


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Editor's Letter

Reviewed: Respect Yourself: Stax Records And The Soul Explosion by Robert Gordon


As Robert Gordon reminds us in Respect Yourself: Stax Records And The Soul Explosion, his terrific account of the rise and fall of the great Memphis soul imprint, the Stax story is more than a record-label history. “It is an American story,” Gordon writes,”...