I had originally intended to fill this space on Wednesday with some excited words on the first of this week’s three shows by The Rolling Stones at the O2 Arena, but I had urgent business in Birmingham with a former rock god whose new album may be the best thing he’s done in nigh on 30 years. But more on that later, let’s get back to the Stones.


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I’ve just been reading Re-Make/Re-Model, Michael Bracewell’s new book on the formative years of Roxy Music and was particularly struck by an early passage in which Bryan Ferry – thankfully not talking about fox-hunting or the Third Reich – waxes nostalgically about a music shop in Newcastle called Windows, where as a teenager he spent many astonished hours browsing through racks of records he couldn’t always afford, but liked anyway just to spend time poring over.


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Since I first wrote about the new Babyshambles album, there’s been a huge amount of on-line traffic about both the initial preview and what some correspondents have been concerned is guarded praise on my part for the record.


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Well, it’s here, the record I’ve been looking forward to with a mix of high excitement and an anticipatory dread that it might not be the album I’ve been waiting for.


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Where was everyone?

In 1978, closing in on 100,000 people marched six miles from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park in East London to see The Clash headline a benefit concert for Rock Against Racism.


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Without wanting to turn this space into a shameless plug for Uncut, I’d just like to point you in the direction of the blogs the Uncut team has been posting on uncut.co.uk over the weekend from the Latitude festival.


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Bob Dylan fans still reeling from the unexpected news that Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen producer Mark Ronson has remixed “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine) – the mind, she boggles – may have something to get more obviously excited about.


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One of the first festivals I covered not long after joining Melody Maker in 1974 was in Buxton, a bleak outpost on the Yorkshire Moors, headlined by Rod Stewart and The Faces, as they were increasingly billed after the departure of Ronnie Lane and not long before Rod himself legged it to LA and a subsequent solo career of great success if variable artistic merit.


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I’ve mentioned here previously the time in 1979 I went to see Lou Reed at what was then still known as the Hammersmith Odeon when he reacted testily to requests from the crowd to play their favourite numbers by announcing that he would under no circumstances be playing anything else that night apart from his new album, The Bells, so there would, he repeated emphatically, no “Heroin”, “Sweet Jane”, “Walk On The Wild Side” or any of the other numbers so many people had obviously come to hear him perform.


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I’ve been away this week, and was amazed when I got back to discover the continuing contributions to the Is This Bob Dylan’s Greatest-Ever Vocal Performance debate.


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Editor's Letter

The new Uncut revealed! Arctic Monkeys, Neil Young, Kate Bush and Warren Zevon in new issue


Next month, Arctic Monkeys play two shows at London’s Finsbury Park to more than 100,000 people, which makes it a reasonable moment to look back at the band’s journey from the Sheffield suburb of High Green to their current all-conquering place in a rock pantheon where they are...