News from Oliver Gray, who runs The Railway in Winchester, where he has promoted the Uncut Sessions, as a kind of Club Uncut in exile since we quit our original home at London’s Borderline. The Uncut Sessions started a couple of years ago when Oliver booked Richmond Fontaine for two special shows. The first, on what I remember was a rather damp and windswept Saturday afternoon, saw Richmond Fontaine play their brilliant Post To Wire album in its entirety. Their second show, that evening, featured just about every other song the band had ever played, written, recorded, covered or merely just heard, possibly once, blasting out of the radio of a passing car, whistled by a waitress, hummed by a barman or otherwise brought to their passing attention in vague and possibly unremembered ways. The set went on for what people later reckoned was about four hours, although by its end the crowd had in all likelihood have lost all sense of time and the band could have carried on well into the following week without complaint from anyone there.


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Did you see that terrific BBC4 Squeeze documentary, Take Me I’m Yours, on Friday night? I was more than a little taken aback by the currently be-whiskered Glenn Tilbrook, but I’m sure there’s a plausible explanation for wanting to look like that and otherwise the programme was a timely reminder of the many great songs he and Chris Difford have written over the years. It also put me in mind of an eventful few days I spent with the band in 1980, when they were rather unhappily touring Australia, where I caught up with them in inhospitable Brisbane before we headed for the sunny beaches of Surfer’s Paradise. Here’s a piece I wrote for my old Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before column in Uncut.


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It was National Poetry Day last week, a date I’m sure you found your own ways to celebrate. I was at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, where John Cooper Clarke was in residence for the evening, headlining a show that also featured appearances by fellow poets Mike Garry and Luke Wright, a couple of sharp young wordsmiths who by the look of them may not have been capable of joined-up writing when Clarke was in his glorious early pomp and may possibly not even have been born then, Wright especially looking like he’s only just stopped being looked after by baby-sitters and cooed over in a crib.


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Boxing Day, 1967, and The Beatles’ new film, something called Magical Mystery Tour, is about to be shown for the first time, broadcast by the BBC, fans looking forward to what surely will be a highlight of the Christmas television schedules, a welcome respite to those of a certain age from the usual seasonal fare of old movies and light entertainment, all that stuff that they usually show to keep the old folks happy over the holidays.


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The new Uncut’s only been on sale since the end of last week, but there’s already been a fair amount of correspondence about our cover story on The Byrds. Most of it’s been about our Top 20 countdown of The Byrds’s greatest tracks. You were broadly in agreement with what was included, but many of you wondered aloud at certain omissions – “Chestnut Mare” was particularly missed by many, including me it must be said.


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Anyway, with the release of Bob Dylan’s Tempest looming, I was thinking the other morning about a time when albums just, you know, came out. What seemed to happen was pretty straightforward. There’d be a story in Melody Maker announcing a new album by one of your favourite bands that usually gave the record a title, track listing and release date. The week the album came out, there’d be a review, maybe an interview and perhaps a full-page ad somewhere in MM, often with tour dates attached.
On the day the album came out, you went to your local record shop – in my case, Derek’s in Water Street in Port Talbot – and you bought it. How simple it all seemed.
Of course, when I actually started working for Melody Maker in 1974, I found there was a bit more to it, although not much more usually than a launch party. This was basically an excuse for the band, their mates and assorted journalists to have a bit of a piss-up and could hardly be described as an integral part of a carefully-plotted promotional campaign, unless you were Led Zeppelin and the party was a debauched affair in Chislehurst Caves involving naked nuns and the like, in which case the event would get a bit of a write-up in the red tops.


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Please excuse the wholly shameless plug, but I thought you might like to know that the next in our series of Ultimate Music Guides goes on sale tomorrow (September 6) and this one is dedicated to Paul Weller.


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How many fans were aghast over the weekend to hear via the American broadcaster NBC that Neil Young had just died and unknown to many of them had also been the first man to set foot on the moon? Neil has been many things down the years, of course, but his secret history as an astronaut would have been news to everyone, including him.


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We’ve just had our copies of the new issue dropped off in the office, ahead of it going on sale later this week. Nick Cave’s on the cover, glowering menacingly. John Robinson went down to Brighton, where, as John memorably tells us, Nick lives in a house that’s ‘large and white, much as Russia in winter is large and white’. The occasion for Uncut dropping in on Cave was the release of Lawless, the terrific – and terrifically violent - new movie directed by Nick’s long-time collaborator, John Hillcoat, for which Cave has written the snappy screenplay.


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Lou Reed at 70 arrives onstage at the Festival Hall to do his bit for Antony Hegarty’s Meltdown programme dressed like a stroppy teenager in a baggy black basketball vest, gold medallions around his neck and what looks like a pair of tracksuit bottoms. He looks frail these days, though tonight slightly less so than last year at the Hammersmith Apollo, and perhaps no wonder when you consider what he’s put his body through over the years before he embraced his current sobriety.


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Inside the new Uncut...


On the morning of July 29, 1966 Bob Dylan became distracted while out riding his Triumph motorbike. Writing about the incident later in Chronicles Volume 1, Dylan rather gnomically recalled, “I had been in a motorcycle accident and I’d been hurt, but I recovered.” Of course,...