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I went to the Star-Club once, but I didn’t see The Beatles. They'd long since left the building, playing their last residency there 50 years ago, in 1962.
By the time I fetched up on Hamburg's Reeperbahn, that legendary strip where The Beatles and many more like them served their rock'n'roll apprenticeships, the Star-Club itself was also a place of fond memory. It was by then a sex club, called The Salambo.
This was May 1978. I was in Germany on assignment for what used to be Melody Maker. My mission, as it was explained to me, was to "take the temperature of the German rock scene". To this end, I get in touch with a jovial soul named Teddy Meier, European Artist Development Manager for Chrysalis Records. Teddy has an office on Feldbrunnenstrasse. I tell him I can be there in half an hour, but Teddy's having none of it. He’ll come to me. "At once!" he adds with high-pitched urgency. Not long after this, Teddy’s on his third or fourth huge stein of a powerful local brew, quaffing for the fatherland from a glass so heavy he has to hoist it from the table in a double-handed grip, like a Viking.
The hotel bar’s too dull for Teddy, though. After giving me an astonishingly detailed account of the German rock scene, he suggests a trip to the Reeperbahn. Our first stop is The Salambo, which seems lively enough to me. Teddy, though, is still restless and we go on to another similar establishment, where we’re shown to a table by a naked blonde, whose neatly trimmed pubic thatch Teddy is clearly mesmerised by. Soon things are happening onstage that those of a delicate disposition might prefer not to have described to them in too much detail.
I’m thinking especially of the energetic sexual episodes featuring a company of strapping gals and a small but colourful menagerie of animals – principal among them a baffled-looking chimp, a small horse and sundry well-built hounds, the lot of them characterised by much drooling, lolling of tongues, shuddering flanks and visibly alert members. Where the dogs are concerned, there’s also a terrific amount of tail-wagging when they are called on to do their bit.
Anyway, not for the first time, I digress. I have other news to pass on. This is the last printed issue of Uncut in its present incarnation. From next month, the magazine will have a cool new look and there’ll be changes to what’s in it and how it's presented. The big change is a major overhaul and expansion of our reviews section, for so many readers the most important part of Uncut. We’ll also be introducing a new front section next month, but to reassure the wary among you, regular reader favourites will still be part of Uncut’s editorial mix. Anyway, see what you think of the new-look Uncut when it goes on sale on February 28. We’ll be looking forward to your views.
In this issue
FREE CD: SOUNDS OF THE STAR-CLUB
16 original versions of songs covered by The Beatles, including tracks by Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Fats Waller, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Ray Charles and Elvis Presley
COVER FEATURE: THE BEATLES
The Fab Four eventually conquered the world – but first, they had to take seedy, dangerous Hamburg…
Celebrating 40 years of chart-topper Harvest
The legendary American songwriter on Sinatra, Python, Family Guy and Pixar
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS
The making of '78's controversial punk protest anthem "Alternative Ulster"
Guitarist Richard Lloyd reveals the turmoil behind '77 classic album Marquee Moon
THE GUN CLUB
How Jeffrey Lee Pierce sacrificed himself on the voodoo blues-punk altar
The pioneering folk archivist and his many obsessions, including magick, liquid diets and monochords
Grunge's foremost blues voice looks back on his best work
AMON DUUL II
Drugs, guns, the Baader-Meinhofs and some truly interstellar Krautrock
Weller and co's farewell tour in pictures
Lampchop, Paul McCartney, Mark Lanegan, Shearwater, Palace, David Sylvian, Pulp, Simple Minds and many more
IN FILM, DVD AND BOOKS
Film: Jason Reitman's Young Adult; Cronenberg and Polanski
DVD: 'Nam vet revenge movie Rolling Thunder; plus Game Of Thrones, PJ Harvey, Radiohead and Motörhead
Books: The Last Holiday: A Memoir by 'Godfather of Rap' Gil Scott-Heron
The National's Bryce Dessner, St Vincent, Dion, unsung early-'90s indie-pop perfectionists Cardinal, and more…