After last week’s Best Albums Of 2014 roundup/provocation, here’s the first proper playlist of the year; with, as you’ll see, a few auspicious new arrivals.


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Sometime last autumn, maybe, an EP called “Artorius Revisited” by Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band was quietly released in limited quantities. Last time he surfaced around 2006/2007, in a quixotic, thwarted and mostly transcendent musical career that now stretches back some three decades, Head and his longest-lasting configuration, Shack, were signed to Noel Gallagher’s Sour Mash label. It didn’t last.


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Third Man Records has announced the release of all the singles from The White Stripes’ ‘Elephant’, together in a vinyl boxset.


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Happy new year, everyone. Since we’re into 2014 now, and (perhaps more pertinently) since all of our 2013 charts generated so much traffic to www.uncut.co.uk last month, I thought it’d be useful/cynical to post a Best Of 2014 (Thus Far) list.


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So this, I think, might be a new thing: not so much a live recreation of a classic album, but a live recreation of the sessions which resulted in a classic album. A show predicated not just on evocative songs recorded 25-odd years ago, but on a nostalgia for outtakes that – up until a month or so ago, at least – most of the crowd in the Hammersmith Apollo tonight had never even heard.


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The last playlist of 2013, I think, and – as you’ll see – a bunch of faithful retainers slipping back in with 2014 releases. Not sure I can believe I’m ending the year with an embedded video of Tears For Fears covering Animal Collective, but there you go.


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We have about 24 hours to finish the next issue, and not much longer to complete another Uncut Ultimate Music Guide due in January, so no preamble this week: lots to hear and anticipate below. (Thanks, though, for all your feedback on my Best Of 2013 list; much appreciated, as ever).


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There are some things you never expect to see. Take, for example, a live performance of “Parallelograms”; a song of uncanny atmospheres and dynamics, recorded in 1970 by a dental hygienist with only a fleeting involvement with the music business.


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OK, I’ve managed to remember 143 albums that came out this year and that I liked. As in previous years, I didn’t see much point in hacking my list down to a Top 100, or Top 50, or whatever. While it’d be a stretch to claim every one is an imperishable classic, I do feel broadly confident recommending them all.


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Not uncharacteristically, I’ve spent the past few days repressing a bunch of unnecessary rage about the publicity afforded the BBC’s Sound Of 2013 poll. Not so much because of the artists selected, but because of the way it effectively presents an ultimatum to new talent: have something resembling success in the next 12 months, or else people will weary of your miserable underachievement and move on to the next batch of hopefuls.


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Editor's Letter

Introducing… Elvis Costello: The Ultimate Music Guide


In June 1977, Allan Jones of the Melody Maker took a familiar route to the offices of Stiff Records in West London. His appointment, that day, was with a notably irascible young singer-songwriter from Hounslow. In the course of a frequently startling interview, the man who had chosen to call...