Starring Neil Young, Love, Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Steve Gunn, Guy Clark, Bat For Lashes, Springsteen, AC/DC, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox, Christine & The Queens…
The action captured in this month’s Uncut – on sale today in the UK – takes in a wide range of locations. There is a castle in Hollywood, and a place down the road in Malibu Canyon, where a housekeeper burns sage in deference to the tastes of an auspicious house guest, Neil Young. We interrupt Kenney Jones’ tractor driving at his polo club, and learn some useful FBI tips from Jeff Beck on how to make your London flat secure from prying eyes. There is a long train journey to Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel, San Antonio, where Robert Johnson once recorded, and a return visit to Hansa Studios, and the debauched West Berlin of the 1980s.
Perhaps most potently, though, the estimable new guitar virtuoso, Steve Gunn, takes Uncut’s Rob Mitchum to that most sacred of spaces: a second-hand record fair. Gunn, it transpires, is very much a man after our own heart, an insatiable record collector whose devotions range from the canonical to the most eclectic obscurities. He becomes fannishly shy when spotting Lenny Kaye across the stalls at the WFMU Record Fair in Brooklyn, then goes on to buy a diverse clutch of albums by Ian A Anderson, Brij Bhushan Kabra, Anthony Braxton and Joshua Burkett (I can strongly recommend the last of these, but you can read Gunn’s enthusiastic footnotes to all his purchases in the new issue).
As ever, then, this issue of Uncut shapes up as a selection of new angles on and insights from our established heroes – Neil Young, Love, Jeff Beck, The Small Faces, Mick Harvey, Billy Bragg, Jimmy Webb among them – alongside new stars and lost voices who operate in a similar rich tradition. Who knew, for example, the story of how a shipload of synths turned up on one of the remote Cape Verde islands, off the northwest coast of Africa, in the spring of 1968? You can read the full story from Piers Martin, hear an example of the antic kosmische music they enabled – alongside Bat For Lashes, Plaid, Idris Ackamoor, The Julie Ruin, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Rhyton, Sara Watkins and loads more – on this month’s free CD .
Every month, the plan is to share a wealth of musical discoveries. Here’s the saxophonist Kamasi Washington talking about Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, from this month’s My Life In Music feature. “In popular music these days, the notion is that you have to be simple and bland to appeal to mass audiences,” Washington tells us. “I think this record is anything but that. It’s going to live beyond itself. It’s not just a great record, it’s an important record. Does it inspire me? Yes, it does.”