Wild Mercury Sound

More on "I'm Not There" and Neil Young's "Chrome Dreams II" plus Battles

John Mulvey

Fairly curious listening day in the Uncut office, even by our standards, I think, which reached a pinnacle of sorts with a new Dead Kennedys 'Best Of' (how poppy they sound now) rubbing up next to a Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick reissue from 1966, I think.

Another thorough play of the "I'm Not There" soundtrack, which I blogged about yesterday, reveals it to be a really consistently excellent bit of work. To add to all the tracks I highlighted yesterday, a couple more that leaped out today: Stephen Malkmus, again, ripping through "Maggie's Farm"; the imperious Mark Lanegan's take on "The Man In The Long Black Coat" (sounding, as ever with Lanegan, as if it was recorded on granite); and John Doe, finding a staunch, revivalist fervour in "Pressing On". Antony Hegarty really needs to find another party trick, though, after a second play of his incredibly predictable procession through "Knockin' On Heaven's Door".

Thanks, too, for your comments on the Neil Young blog I posted a couple of weeks ago. As a bit of a bootleg ignoramus, I'm particularly interested in David Wilson's comment: "I'd rather have seen 'Grey Riders' & 'Gateway Of Love' - in my opinion NY's best unreleased songs,13 minutes is the right length for 'Ordinary People', extending it to 18 minutes and tinkering with the verses - no thanks."

I'm beginning to think, though, that the version of "Ordinary People" is actually a studio recording from the late '80s rather than a brand new take, not least because there are some slightly incongruous keyboard sounds that don't fit in with the rest of the album. "Ordinary People" doesn't really fit in with the rest of the record, of course, being earthbound rather than spiritual in subject matter. But it's the textural detail that makes me suspect this one has fallen out of the "Archives".

One last thing, today. I'm perpetually kicking myself for not having seen Battles live in spite of numerous chances (I did blog about their album here, though). I was reminded of this by a live take on "Leyendecker" that comes on their new "Tonto" EP; further proof, I suppose, that they've given post-rock a new fluidity that's far removed from all those programmatic crypto-shoegazers like Explosions In The Sky who trade under the name these days.

Better still, there's a remix of "Tonto" by someone called The Field who I must admit ignorance of, though the press biog tells me he's on the excellent German label Kompakt, so I've probably got something by him on a comp somewhere. Anyway, his "Tonto" is a relentless cut-up electronica piece that keeps surging again and again and again; Battles with their metal chops removed, but their force and belligerence still intact. Makes a change from all the Bob and Neil business, you know. . .


Editor's Letter

Revealed: The New Issue Of Uncut…

For many of us who came of age in the mid '80s, The Smiths probably provided the soundtrack to a political maturing as much as an emotional one. My epochal moment of teenage rebellion came on July 23, 1986, a day I had strategically reserved for the purchase of The Queen Is Dead, so as to...