Uncut Editor's Diary
Tom Waits, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys, Richard Thompson in the new Uncut
Tom Waits is staring back at me from the cover of the new Uncut, which goes on sale this Thursday, January 31. It’s a picture of the young Tom that I’m looking at, long before he ended up with a face that now makes you think a tractor tyre must recently have run over it, a corrugated look he shares with his friend, Keith Richards. He is in fact startlingly young in the picture, even though it would seem he hasn’t shaved for a week and for just as long has been sleeping in the clothes he’s wearing.
That it’s the youthful, largely unblemished Tom on the Uncut coveris appropriate, since Graeme Thompson’s cover story looks back 40 years to March 1973, when Waits released his first album, Closing Time, and began his odd and singular journey to stardom. With the help of Waits’ closest collaborators on the album, including producer Jerry Yester, Graeme tells the untold story of how an aspiring beatnik from San Diego learned his craft as a songwriter and performer in the dive bars, diners and flophouses of Los Angeles.
What everyone wanted to know when Waits first appeared on the LA music scene of the early 70s was who exactly he was and where had he come from, a boho legend in the making, a clutch of great songs already written? Graeme comes up with all the answers in a typically fine piece.
In the new issue, we ask and also answer another pressing question: where do all the albums of previously unreleased Jimi Hendrix material come from? There have been more albums released in his name since he died than he ever put out when he was alive, so who’s responsible for the exhumation and packaging of all this Hendrix music and how much of it is actually any good? John Robinson takes the measure of the battle for Jimi’s legacy in a revealing investigation.
Elsewhere, Andy Gill braves bad weather in Southern California to quiz the great Richard Thompson about five decades of matchless music, from the early stirrings of Fairport Convention to his outstanding new album, Electric. Sharon O’Connell, meanwhile, racked up some serious air miles to visit Louisville, Kentucky, home of My Morning Jacket main man, Jim James, and talk to him about his solo album, Regions Of Light And Sound Of God, a record as good as its title.
And as the world waits with what I’m reliably informed is keen anticipation bordering on barely supressed hysteria for the first David Bowie album in a decade, we take a look at historic film footage of Bowie from 1970, when he played the Atomic Sunrise Festival at London’s Roundhouse. It’s the only known filmed record of Bowie’s pre-glam band, Hype, which featured Bowie, Mick Ronson, drummer John Cambridge and Tony Visconti, who played bass that night in Hype before going on to rather greater success as a producer and recalls the event for us.
Talking about producers, our Album By Album feature in the new issue is devoted to Chris Thomas, who in his time has worked on albums by – deep breath – The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, John Cale, The Pretenders, Pete Townshend, Pulp, Paul McCartney, David Gilmour and, of course, The Sex Pistols. That’s what you might call an impressive CV. Sinead O’Conner is the subject of this month’s Audience With, and turns out to be hilarious, foul-mouthed and cheerfully provocative, with sharp words for Bono and Roger Waters, among others.
In other news, we bring together Brian Wilson and Mike Love to talk about 50 years of The Beach Boys, Status Quo talk us through the making of 1974 hit, “Down Down”, Can’s Jaki Liebezeit and Irmin Schmidt tells us about their new project, Cyclopean and Michael Chapman and Thurston Moore spill the beans on their Acoustic Fire Music tour and we meet rising Americana star, John Fullbright.
Among the albums reviewed this month, there are new releases from Nick Cave, Johnny Marr, Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace, Catlin Rose, Jim James, Eels, Endless Boogie and Ron Sexsmith, while there are major reissues from Fleetwood Mac and Julian Cope.
Finally, our free CD this month features 15 great tracks from new albums by Matthew e White, Richard Thompson, Villagers, Endless Boogie, Lord Huron, Wooden Wand, Arbouretum, Karl Bartos, Purling Hiss and more.
Have a great week. I’m off to see John Murry tonight. See you there if you’re going.