Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker: Deluxe Edition

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David Ryan Adams, as he was then called, first caught our ear in 1997, on Whiskeytown’s second album, Strangers Almanac, a major label debut of eventually unrealised promise, record company politics and their own volatile infrastructure delaying the release of a third album until 2001.

By then, the band had split and Ryan Adams, as he now was, had put out a solo album, 2000’s much-revered Heartbreaker. Acclaimed at the time by fans as a classic of what was becoming known as Americana, it now splendidly gets a full bells and whistles reissue on Adams’ PAX AM label. Heartbreaker Deluxe is a 2CD or 4LP boxset, plus a concert DVD from October 2000. Both formats feature the remastered original album, outtakes, alternative versions, demos and sundry unreleased tracks of variable merit. Among the latter is a stomping, jokey version of Morrissey’s “Hairdresser On Fire”, followed by some jovial studio bickering over whether it appeared on Bona Drag or Viva Hate, an edited version of which banter became Heartbreaker’s opening track, “(Argument With David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey)”.

Opening an album of delicate folk ballads and weather-beaten country tearjerkers with a conversation about the foppish Manchester entertainer may sound at least incongruous, perhaps even a little addled and possibly quite baffling to many. It’s a typically clever Adams ploy, however, a cute indication of the emotional topography of the album that follows, for which an even more accurately descriptive title than Heartbreaker might have been taken from another Morrissey tune, “Late Night, Maudlin Street”. The album, after all, is something of a hymn to self-pity, epic moping, bereft, stricken, nearly every track an exquisite example of nothing but woe. The more misery Adams pours into these songs, however, the more darkly alluring they become, thanks mostly to the crepuscular atmospheres conjured for them by producer Ethan Johns.

Whiskeytown had played a pretty straightforward kind of country rock, with appealing echoes of The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Replacements of Pleased To Meet Me, Don’t Tell A Soul and All Shook Down rather than the yammering punk of Let It Be and Stink, which was the kind of hardcore racket Adams had noisily essayed in the pre-Whiskeytown Patty Duke Syndrome. There were hints too on the glossier bits of Strangers Almanac of Tom Petty, whose slick commerciality their label rather clearly wanted Whiskeytown to emulate. On Heartbreaker, however, Adams and Ethan Johns abandoned such toe-tapping tunefulness, stripped the music of superfluous frippery, anything that could be described as merely decorative and thus unnecessary, in the process reducing everything to little more than a murmur.

Most tracks feature just Adams, his voice and guitar, often nimbly fingerpicked. There’s an occasional wheezing harmonica, here and there ghostly banjo, sepulchral organ and occasional piano from a pre-Wilco Pat Sansone, eerie harmonies from Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Kim Richey and Allison Pierce. The overall mood is profoundly subdued, whispering and furtive. Some tracks are so discreetly mixed they’re almost subliminal, like figures in a fog, barely glimpsed, there but not there. “To Be The One”, “Don’t Ask For The Water”, “Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st)” and “Why Do They Leave?” all, for instance, seem to exist only as shimmer, in a trembling half-light, Adams voice as gently laid upon the arrangements as a shroud. The notable exceptions to this compelling hush are “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)”, whose brash clatter joyfully recalls the Dylan of “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, the skittering “My Winding Wheel”, the raucous Bo Diddley-inspired “Shakedown On 9th Street” with Gillian Welch whooping in the background and Adams and Dave Rawlings exchanging crunching electric guitar riffs, and the wonderfully ramshackle “Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains)”, again evocative of mid-’60s Dylan. The dreamily wistful “AMY”, meanwhile, is often compared to something by Nick Drake, but is surely more redolent of Donovan’s Elysian psychedelia, with its double-tracked vocals, glockenspiel, synthesised woodwinds and sibilant cymbal splashes.

A lot of great break-up albums – In The Wee Small Hours, Blood On The Tracks, Shoot Out The Lights, Back To Black, Lemonade, take your pick – usually come with at least some degree of vitriol attached. Like Beck’s Sea Change, however, angry retribution is largely absent from Heartbreaker, recrimination mostly replaced by bleak resignation, especially on the grovelling “Come Pick Me Up”, which casts the singer as craven, desperate, prepared to endure any humiliation to get his girl back. “Come pick me up, take me out, fuck me up,” Adams sings, wheedling and needy. “Steal my records, screw all my friends, behind my back, with a smile on your face and then do it again…” Elsewhere, Adams is more dignified, poised and poignant, if no less forsaken, especially on the bleakly fatalistic “Bartering Line”, “Call Me On Your Way Back Home” and the superlative “Oh My Sweet Carolina”, a duet with Emmylou Harris that recalls forlorn Gram Parsons ballads like “Hickory Wind”, “She” and “A Song For You”. Best of all is “In My Time Of Need”, which takes its title from the lyric to another Parsons song, “In My Hour Of Darkness”, which so sombrely closed Grievous Angel. A faux-Dust Bowl ballad, sung by Adams in the character of a struggling homesteader, with Gillian Welch providing a tender high harmony line over the spectral plunk of a banjo and Sansone’s wonderfully discreet piano, “In My Time Of Need” is a song of eventual solace and reconciliation, something akin to Warren Zevon’s “Don’t Let Us Get Sick”, love in the end transcendent rather than ruinous. “I will come for you when my days are through,” Adams sings with a quiet passion, “and I’ll let your smile just up and carry me.”

Heartbreaker was the first of 13 solo albums Adams released between 2000 and 2011, three of them in 2005 alone (one of them a double). 2001’s Gold was much-admired (and also an Uncut Album Of The Year), but things then got messy. He was often accused of profligacy, self-indulgence, a lack of quality control. There was much good work to come, but too often the albums that followed have tended to fade into an ubiquitous static, a common noise, not hard to switch off and even easier to forget. Heartbreaker, however, remains a singular pinnacle in a sometimes overstretched career, unforgettable, entirely wonderful.

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

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George Clinton pays tribute Bernie Worrell

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George Clinton has paid tribute to his Parliament-Funkadelic bandmate Bernie Worrell, who died on Friday [June 24].

Worrell, who was 72, had been suffering from lung cancer. Clinton has since released a statement to Billboard.

“This is a huge loss,” said Clinton. “The world of music will never be the same. Bernie’s influence and contribution – not just to Funk but also Rock and Hip Hop – will forever be felt. Bernie was a close and personal friend and this is a time of sadness for me personally. P-Funk stands with his family and fans alike in mourning this loss.

“The world is a little bit darker and a little less funky without Bernie in it.”

Worrell joined Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic in 1970, appearing on albums including Maggot Brain, Mothership Connection and One Nation Under The Groove.

In 1980, Worrell was invited to join Talking Heads live band and ended up staying as the band’s keyboardist and unofficial member until their 1992 breakup.

Speaking to Uncut in 2015, Worrell recalled his time with Talking Heads:

“I’d been with P-Funk for about ten years, and I think Talking Heads modelled their larger line-up around ours; they told me they used to sneak into our shows, they were all fans of P-Funk. They took the concept of multi-rhythms, integrated it, got the rhythm thing more energetic, and got more people involved. Jerry [Harrison] didn’t play funk: that’s what they wanted, the black rhythms. So I brought my feel into things, like the clavinet intro to ‘Life During Wartime’, and I’d suggest things they could do on guitars. I would coach what they would do. I had been musical director of P-Funk for years, so it was good to be able to sit back and just play.

Nona Hendryx joined up too, and I brought in Lynn Mabry from the Brides Of Funkenstein, we made it a party! Talking Heads were a bit stiff when they started out, they admitted that to me. That’s why we injected the brotherhood, that’s what I brought to them. Those rhythms got to them, it became a unique combination of David [Byrne]’s quirkiness – he’s a conceptualist, like George Clinton – and the rhythms.”

Worrell’s Twitter feed confirmed the news of his death: “AT 11:54, June 24, 2016, Bernie transitioned Home to The Great Spirit.”

Tributes have been paid by artists including Chuck D, Jason Isbell, Vernon Reid and Sean Ono Lennon.

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

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Devendra Banhart announces new album, Ape In Pink Marble

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Devendra Banhart has announced details of his ninth studio album, Ape In Pink Marble.

The album is released on September 23 by Nonesuch Records.

You can hear the first track from the album, “Middle Names“, below.

You can pre-order the album from the Nonesuch store by clicking here.

The Ape In Pink Marble tracklisting is:

Middle Names
Good Time Charlie
Jon Lends a Hand
Mara
Fancy Man
Fig in Leather
Theme for a Taiwanese Woman in Lime Green
Souvenirs
Mourner’s Dance
Saturday Night
Linda
Lucky
Celebration

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

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Elvis & Nixon

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On December 21, 1970, an unexpected meeting took place in the Oval Office of the White House. At Elvis Presley’s request, he was granted an audience with Richard Nixon where he asked the President for a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. This fabled summit is the subject of director Liza Johnson’s slight, but delightful, film.

The truth is so remarkable Johnson – and the screenwriters, who including Cary Elwes – have to resort to very little fictionalization. No longer the megastar he once was, threatened by The Beatles and the Woodstock generation, Presley wants to volunteer as an undercover agent. The Beatles, he says, are “anti-American, possibly with Communist leanings.” As he explains to the President, “If I can have a narcotics badge, I could protect this nation from sliding into anarchy.” His plan is to infiltrate the immoral arbiters of the Age of Aquarius: “The Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead or possibly the Black Panthers.” After all, “I have a military background and I have a deep, abiding interest in law enforcement.”

To bring this momentous meeting to life, Johnson is blessed with two strong performances from Michael Shannon as Presley and Kevin Spacey as Nixon. Shannon underplays Presley – it works well. Despite the film being very funny, Shannon brings an understated pathos to the part. “When I walk into a room, everyone remembers their first kiss watching one of my movies, but they never see me,” he says. “He’s buried under gold and money. I don’t know if I know who he is anymore.”

Spacey similarly pushes Nixon away from revue sketch parody into something more nuanced. Around them, orbit a strong supporting cast – Alex Pettyfer as Jerry Schilling and Johnny Knoxville as Sonny West, members of Presley’s Memphis Mafia, and Colin Hanks as White House staffer Egil Krogh. But the main event between Shannon and Spacey sparkles.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

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Ralph Stanley, bluegrass pioneer, dies aged 89

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Ralph Stanley, the pioneer of bluegrass and Appalachian music, has died aged 89.

TThe news was confirmed on Facebook by his grandson, Nathan, who wrote, “My papaw, my dad, and the greatest man in the world, Dr. Ralph Stanley has went home to be with Jesus just a few minutes ago. He went peacefully in his sleep due to a long, horrible battle with Skin Cancer… My Papaw was loved by millions of fans from all around the world, and he loved all of you.”

Stanley was born in Stratton, Virginia on February 25, 1927. His first public performance was in church, aged 11 years old. He began performing with his older brother Carter as the Stanley Brothers, securing a daily slot on the radio station WNVA. The show’s sponsors, the Clinch Valley Insurance Company, inspired the name of the brothers band, The Clinch Mountain Boys.

They signed to Columbia in 1948, recording songs including “The White Dove“, “The Lonesome River” and “The Fields Have Turned Brown” for the label.

They moved to Mercury in 1953, recording “I’m Lonesome Without You” and “Memories Of Mother”, which proved to be among their most enduring songs.

After Carter died in December 1966, Stanley continued performing with the Clinch Mountain Boys as a solo artist.

In 2000, Stanley’s music was featured on the soundtrack for the Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

In 2012, Stanley appeared on the soundtrack of Nick Cave‘s film Lawless, including a version of the Velvet Underground‘s “White Light White Heat”.

Speaking to Uncut, Nick Cave recalled recording with Stanley.

“Getting him on board was hilarious,” said Cave. “He came back with a version of ‘White Light White Heat‘, it was in 3/ 4. It was like a swing thing and we were going to drop it on to the music. But that was in 4/4. So I’m saying, look, could you do this in 4/4? We’re Skyping Ralph… so all he can see is me and Warren [Ellis]’s faces stuck in the computer screen. So [producer] Hal Wilner is there, the person who has got the godfather of bluegrass music to sing these songs. And we’re going, ‘It’s kind of ONE-two-three-four-ONE.’ And Ralph is looking at the screen with this kind of… utter disdain.

“What he ended up doing was very much his own thing,” continued Cave. “Hal came back with his stuff, which was amazing. His versions were just so strange and so beautiful, it was a real coup. Hal brought Lou Reed in who was working up the road because Hal was producing the Lulu album. He came into the studio and he was visibly moved by Ralph’s version of ‘White Light White Heat’.”

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

Terry Reid: “If you live on a farm in Mexico, they’ve never even heard of Led Zeppelin”

He could have been the frontman of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and the Spencer Davis Group. Instead, Terry Reid embarked on a remarkable musical adventure of his own. Now, one of British rock’s greatest voices tells his story: of bad luck and bloody-mindedness, of Jagger’s wedding and Keith’s party-planning, and much, much more… Words by Mick Houghton. Originally published in Uncut’s January 2011 issue (Take 164).

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“There are only three things happening in London,” announced Tom Dowd, Aretha Franklin’s producer, in 1968. “The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Terry Reid.” Forty-odd years on, Reid’s presence in that triumvirate looks, at best, optimistic. But at the end of the ’60s, Reid was a well-connected teenager with a questing spirit and a staggering, freefalling voice. All he needed was the right band to coalesce around him and – surely, inevitably – he would become a superstar.

Instead, of course, Reid has become legendary for quite different reasons – as the unluckiest man in rock. As “Superlungs”, the singer whose remarkable music was repeatedly thwarted by a series of business mishaps that rolled on from one decade to the next. And, notoriously, as the man who was caretaking a house full of Hollywood junk when he could have been conquering the planet as frontman of Led Zeppelin.

“It’s karma from another lifetime,” sighs David Lindley, as he tries to explain the fate of his old musical sparring partner. “In order to be that talented, in order to be able to sing like that, there has to be some counterpoint. It’s like the Drunken Immortals in the Chinese Legend. Each one has a fatal flaw, some kind of thing they have to deal with in order to be immortal. It’s a variation of that. Terry Reid is like one of those people who has been struck by lightning five times. He’s bullet-proof. He accepts the way things are. I’ve never known him say, ‘Why the fuck does this keep happening?’”

Led Zeppelin cleared of plagiarism in “Stairway To Heaven” trial

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Led Zeppelin have been cleared of charges of stealing the riff to “Stairway To Heaven” from the band Spirit.

A jury in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 23 cleared Robert Plant and Jimmy Page at the climax to the six-day trial.

In a joint statement following the verdict, Page and Plant said, “We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years. We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”

The bands label also issued a statement. “At Warner Music Group, supporting our artists and protecting their creative freedom is paramount. We are pleased that the jury found in favor of Led Zeppelin, re-affirming the true origins of ‘Stairway To Heaven’. Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands in history, and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are peerless songwriters who created many of rock’s most influential and enduring songs.”

The case was brought on behalf of Spirit’s late guitarist, Randy Wolfe.

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

David Bowie “was like a fifth member of the Small Faces”

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David Bowie was “like a fifth member of the Small Faces” in their early days, the band’s drummer Kenney Jones reveals in a new interview in the latest issue of Uncut.

Fifty years on from their debut album, the Small Faces’ percussionist, as well as famous fans like Pete Townshend, look back over the early days of the group.

“David Jones, as he was then, was like a fifth member of the Small Faces when we got together,” recalls Kenney Jones. “In the very early days, we’d hang around Denmark Street at the Giaconda. David was always in there, an ace Mod like us, completely unknown. We’d tell him we were playing Loughton or Epping and he’d ask to come along. We said, no problem, as long as you help us unpack the van.

“We got on great together and we’d like to have adopted him a lot more, but he was doing these Ban The Bomb songs, protest stuff. He’d be in the crowd and ask when he could come up and sing with us, and we’d keep telling him to wait, then when it was the break we’d say ‘Up you come’ and he’d come on as we went off.

“The great thing is that he was exactly the same size as us, but he was a very careful dresser, everything was cut in proportion, so if you looked at him you’d think he was six foot.”

Jones also explains that he was keen to involve David Bowie in a more recent project, an animated film based on the Small Faces’ 1968 album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake.

“I’m making an animated version of the Happiness Stan story in Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake,” he says, “and have got all these people to write songs like Pete Townshend, but I always planned to ask David as the voice of The Fly. I know he’d have said ‘Yes’.”

For more on the Small Faces, plus an exclusive Q&A with Pete Townshend on his love for the group, check out the new issue of Uncut, out now and available in shops and digitally.

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The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

Wayne Jackson, Memphis Horn trumpeter, dies aged 74

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Wayne Jackson, the trumpet player who helped define the sound of Stax Records, has died aged 74.

He died on Tuesday, June 21 of congestive heart failure, according to Billboard.

Along with his musical partner Andrew Love, as the Memphis Horns, he provided backup for artists including Elvis Presley, Al Green, Rod Stewart, Steve Winwood, U2 and Willie Nelson.

Jackson was born on November 24, 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee. He was given his first trumpet aged 11. He enjoyed his first chart hit – No 3 – when he was 20 with the Mar-Kays instrumental, “Last Night”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIZUS5rBtFE

As the first house band at Stax, the Mar-Keys played behind the likes of Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas.

In 1969, Jackson and fellow Mar-Kay Andrew Love formed the Memphis Horns and worked at American Sound Studio in Memphis and FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

At Chips Moman‘s American Sound Studio, the Memphis Horns appeared on Presley’s “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds”, Dusty Springfield’s Dusty In Memphis album and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”.

Over the years, they also appeared on Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay“, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect“, Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man“, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together“, Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and U2’s “Angel Of Harlem“.

In 2008, Jackson and Love were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and received a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys in 2012.

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

Neil Young: “There still is a Crazy Horse”

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Neil Young has discussed the future of Crazy Horse in an exclusive interview in the new issue of Uncut, out now and available in shops and digitally.

In the feature, the songwriter, who released a new live album Earth last week – read our review here – explains that his oldest group are still a going concern.

“Crazy Horse is still out there,” he explains. “There still is a Crazy Horse. Billy [Talbot] is doing great. Playing with them? That’s in the future, we’re all lucky.”

Currently, Young is performing with Promise Of The Real. “They’re an unbelievable band,” he enthuses. “They go as far as I want to go. They don’t have to be taught anything. They already know it. They know the same things I know, they speak the same language. They are the real deal.”

Discussing ‘making peace’ with the tragic death of early Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten in 1972, Young denies that, for him, the loss is resolved.

“I don’t have to make peace with anything,” he says. “Danny’s unresolved. Such a great waste. Sad. But not resolved. Everybody has ghosts like that. It’s part of life. It’s ok. Just have to let them be. Some things you can’t change. You don’t want to try to change, but they’re everywhere. There’s no escaping them.”

Also in the extensive cover interview, Young discusses his live album Earth, the future of his music and the state of the planet, while old friends and collaborators including Stephen Stills and Graham Nash pass judgement on the current state of Young.

The new Uncut: in UK shops and available to buy digitally by clicking here.

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The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

Wake Up You!: The Rise & Fall Of Nigerian Rock 1972-1977 Vols. 1 & 2

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If Wake Up You!, Now-Again’s excellent two-volume selection of Nigerian rock moves from the ’70s, is haunted by anything, it’s the spectre of the Nigerian civil war of the late ’60s. With three million dead from the civil war, and the Biafran secession effectively quashed, the government encouraged Nigerians “to return to whatever they were doing before July 1967”, according to the set’s liner notes – the kind of wholesale process of forced denial/repression that always bubbles up, somehow, through culture’s various avenues of expression. For Nigerian musicians, many of whom were from the East of Nigeria and were called back there during the secession, the after-effects of the civil war ricocheted through their new songs, singing out a febrile, scorched Nigerian rock that gets more furious the deeper you dig into these compilations.

Indeed, the general rule with Wake Up You! is, the wilder things get, the better. There are plenty of good-to-great tracks here that balance the various threads feeding into Nigerian rock at the time – early experiments with Merseybeat, the nascent grind and sweep of Fela’s Afrobeat, the sensual cathexis of soul – but it’s the turn towards psychedelia and acid rock that gives certain cuts here an almost indefinable ‘x factor’. The whiplash sting of the guitar in Aktion’s “Groove The Funk”, the heat-warping wah of Wrinkar Experience’s “Ballad Of A Sad Young Woman”, and the blasted, almost metallic contours of War-Head Constriction’s “Graceful Bird” and “Shower Of Stone” all speak to an everyday experimentalism that has the players turning the amps to 11 and figuring out exactly what can happen when distortion, feedback and the huffing energy of high volume carve the air.

Being slugged in the gut by slow-moving acid gems like Jay U Experience’s “Baby Rock” is reason enough to spend some time with the two volumes of Wake Up You!, but the way compilers Uchenna Ikonne and Eothen Alapatt (the head of Now-Again) contrast this with more ‘standard-order’ fare – songs whose instigative groove and tangled six-string riffs point more clearly toward the players’ grounding in soul and pop moves, fed through aesthetic parameters borrowed from highlife – serves the dual purpose of great overview compilations: education and edification. While Nigerian music is hardly an untapped field, Wake Up You! offers several new and surprising entry points to the music, and quietly, but smartly, writes another narrative, one where significant figures such as Fela Kuti are at one remove from the story’s centre. In many ways, it’s the players documented here that were the beating heart of Nigerian rock, and it’s welcome indeed for them to finally have their moment.

EXTRAS 8/10: Both volumes are presented in hardback book form, with excellent, in-depth text from Ikonne.

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

Watch Portishead’s video for ABBA cover, “SOS”

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Portishead have released a video for their cover of ABBA‘s “SOS” in tribute to Jo Cox, the Batley and Spen MP who was murdered on June 16.

The video features singer Beth Gibbons, shot in monochrome, reaching out towards the camera before ending with a quote from Cox’s maiden speech in parliament: “We have far more in common than which divides us.”

The video was released on what would have been Cox’s 42 birthday.

The track originally appeared in Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of JG Ballard’s novel, High-Rise.

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

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The National to release Grateful Dead tribute 12″

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Day Of The Dead – a celebration of the Grateful Dead’s music curated by The National‘s Bryce Dessner – was released last month via 4AD.

Now 4AD will release a special limited edition 12-inch vinyl of the four-song “Terrapin Station (Suite)” on August 2.

The record is available for pre-order today via the 4AD Store, and features members of Grizzly Bear, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Tunde Adebumpe (TV On The Radio), Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) and Bryce Dessner (The National).

The artwork was designed and donated by visual artist and Pioneer Works founder, Dustin Yellin.

The tracklisting is:
A1. Terrapin Station (Suite) – Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear and The National ft. Josh Kaufman, Conrad Doucette, Sō Percussion and Brooklyn Youth Chorus
B1. If I Had the World to Give – Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
B2. Playing in the Band – Tunde Adebimpe, Lee Ranaldo & Friends
B3. Garcia Counterpoint – Bryce Dessner

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

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New Order to release updated Singles compilation

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New Order’s Singles compilation is to be released in remastered and updated form on September 9 via Warner Music.

Originally released in 2005, this new edition adds “I’ll Stay With You” from 2013’s Lost Sirens album and replaces the correct single edits or mixes for the tracks “Nineteen63”, “Run 2”, “Bizarre Love Triangle”, “True Faith”, “Spooky”, “Confusion” and “The Perfect Kiss”.

This new version of Singles will be available on three formats: a heavyweight 180 gram 4LP vinyl box set, a double-CD and on digital/streaming services.

Vinyl tracklisting:
Side 1
Ceremony
Procession
Everything’s Gone Green (7” version)
Temptation (original 7” version)

Side 2
Blue Monday
Confusion (UK 7” promo edit)
Thieves Like Us (7” promo edit)

Side 3
The Perfect Kiss (7” edit)
Sub-Culture (7” edit)
Shellshock (7” edit)
State of the Nation (7” edit)

Side 4
Bizarre Love Triangle (7” remix edit)
True Faith (7” edit)
Touched by the Hand of God (7” edit)
Blue Monday ’88 (7” version)

Side 5
Fine Time (7” version)
Round and Round (7” version)
Run 2 (7” remix edit)
World in Motion

Side 6
Regret
Ruined in a Day (radio edit)
World (The Price of Love) (radio edit)
Spooky (minimix)
Nineteen63 (Arthur Baker radio remix)

Side 7

Crystal (radio edit)
60 Miles An Hour (radio edit)
Here To Stay (radio edit)
Krafty (single edit)

Side 8
Jetstream (radio edit)
Waiting for the Sirens’ Call (Rich Costey radio version)
Turn (Stephen Street edit)
I’ll Stay With You (‘Lost Sirens’ LP version)

CD tracklisting:
Disc 1

Ceremony
Procession
Everything’s Gone Green (7” version)
Temptation (original 7″ version)
Blue Monday
Confusion (UK 7” promo edit)
Thieves Like Us (7” promo edit)
The Perfect Kiss (7” edit)
Sub-Culture (7” version)
Shellshock (7” edit)
State of the Nation (7” edit)
Bizarre Love Triangle (7” remix edit)
True Faith (7” edit)
Touched by the Hand of God (7” edit)
Blue Monday ’88 (7” version)

Disc 2
Fine Time (7” version)
Round and Round (7” version)
Run 2 (7” remix edit)
World in Motion
Regret
Ruined in a Day (radio edit)
World (The Price Of Love) (radio edit)
8. Spooky (minimix)
Nineteen63 (Arthur Baker radio remix)
Crystal (radio edit)
60 Miles An Hour (radio edit)
Here To Stay (radio edit)
Krafty (single edit)
Jetstream (radio edit)
Waiting for the Sirens’ Call (Rich Costey radio version)
Turn (Stephen Street edit)
I’ll Stay With You (‘Lost Sirens’ LP version)

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

The 21st Uncut Playlist Of 2016

Trying to distract myself from the referendum tomorrow, for at least a few minutes: here’s this week’s rundown of what we’ve played, in the order we played it. Please note a couple of excellent tracks from the Avalanches, new ones from Noura Mint Seymali and the Aphex Twin (with a video allegedly made by a 12-year-old…) and, of course, the triumphant return of Teenage Fanclub. Good vibes for tricky times…

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1 Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani – FRKWYS Vol 13: sunergy (RVNG INTL)

2 Scott Hirsch – Blue Rider Songs (Scissortail)

3 The Avalanches – Wildflower (XL)

4 Cool Ghouls – Animal Races (Melodic)

5 Soundwalk Collective With Jesse Paris Smith Featuring Patti Smith – Killer Road (Bella Union)

6 Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits (Castleface)

7 Elias Krantz – Lifelines (Control Freak Kitten)

8 Psychic Temple – Psychic Temple III (Asthmatic Kitty)

9 The Congos – Heart Of The Congos (Black Ark)

10 Sizzla – The Messiah (VP)

11 Head Technician – Zones (Ecstatic)

12 Sufjan Stevens – Djohariah (Asthmatic Kitty)

13 Ryley Walker – Golden Sings That Have Been Sung (Dead Oceans)

14 Judy Henske & Jerry Yester -Farewell Aldebaraan (Omnivore)

15 Blood Orange – Freetown Sound (Domino)

16 Drive-By Truckers – Surrender Under Protest (ATO)

17 Teenage Fanclub – Here (PeMa)

https://soundcloud.com/theepema/iminlove

18 Aphex Twin – CIRKLON3 [Колхозная Mix] (Warp)

19 Noura Mint Seymali – Arbina (Glitterbeat)

20 Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel (Silver Arrow)

21 Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)

22 King Champion Sounds – To Awake In That Heaven Of Freedom (Excelsior Recordings)

23 Jeff Parker – The New Breed (International Anthem)

24 Rosali – Good Life (Siltbreeze)

Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide: The Beatles

Fifty years since Revolver was released, Uncut is proud to present a deluxe version of our Ultimate Music Guide to The Beatles. Over 148 packed pages, the whole story is revisited, thanks to an incredible cache of features plucked from the archives of Britain’s massively influential music papers. There are week-by-week reports from those epochal American tours: one writer spends a day on Allen Klein’s yacht with the Stones (“Then Jagger played Bob Dylan’s latest single ‘pressed secretly for us eager maniacs’ and danced on deck in the extrovert style that identifies him onstage”), before heading over to Shea Stadium and the Beatles’ dressing room; another hitches a lift from Bedford with Paul McCartney and ends up having an all-night session with him in a random Bedfordshire village. Plus, we have sizeable reviews of every album filed by Uncut’s current team of writers, amazing pictures, and a veritable gallimaufry of Beatleness. “A splendid time is guaranteed for all…”

Order Print Copy

Mark Pritchard – Under The Sun

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After a quarter of a century in the game, the prolific West Country producer Mark Pritchard shouldn’t need an introduction, but the anonymous nature of his club-focused music means he tends to operate in the shadows or at the cutting edge of whichever scene he immerses himself in, be it techno, exotica, jungle or, most recently, grime and footwork. Assuming numerous aliases for his vast range of productions, Pritchard has worn so many masks over the years – from the restless funk of Troubleman to Africa Hitech’s digital dancehall – that the arrival of Under The Sun, his first solo album under his own name, feels like a significant personal statement; a consolidation of all he’s achieved so far that also reveals a more thoughtful and seductive side to his music.

Now 45 and resident in Sydney for 11 years, Pritchard, who grew up in Somerset, came of age in the early 1990s when he joined forces with local lad Tom Middleton to form Global Communication, tapping into a burgeoning south-west rave network that included Aphex Twin and which would soon lead to deals with Warp Records and a certain kinship with new labelmates such as The Black Dog and B12. As Global Communication, and then as Link, Reload and Jedi Knights, Pritchard and Middleton joined the dots from techno and chill-out to electro-funk and drum’n’bass, flitting between styles with youthful elan as they sought to imitate their US heroes Carl Craig and Derrick May.

As the ’90s wore on, a commercial breakthrough eluded Pritchard, which only burnished his cult status and allowed him to toy freely with any genre he fancied, tinkering away in the south Devon studio he ran for Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre. He explored boogie, bossa nova and hip-hop with NY Connection and Harmonic 33, and developed a rich, sensual and vigorous style of production that lent itself naturally to the simmering aggression of dubstep and grime. For years, Digital Mystikz’ dub colossus Medi would deploy the Portishead smoulder of Under The Sun’s opener “?” as a palette-cleanser at the start of his DJ sets.

The idea for Under The Sun came about not through any Damascene revelation but, more prosaically (and in keeping with his pragmatic approach), because Pritchard had wanted to release a non-club record for a long time, and had amassed enough material over the years to begin putting one together. These short instrumental pieces, not dissimilar to the library-music pastiche of Harmonic 33, form the bulk of the album and vary in character from the squished Boards Of Canada flutter of “Where Do They Go, The Butterflies” to the cascading synths of “Falling” and sci-fi blips of “Dawn Of The North”. All pretty enough, but this tasteful mix of analogue keys and distorted drum machines is precisely what we’ve come to expect from Pritchard. It’s when he wanders off-piste with Bibio, Thom Yorke and Linda Perhacs that the record comes alive, and these instrumental tracks then play a vital supporting role.

For a time Pritchard became obsessed with The Beach Boys’ Smile, which he’d play as soon as he arrived at his studio in Sydney for a night-time session (he’s nocturnal), and which acted as a guide for “Give it Your Choir”, his collaboration with labelmate Stephen “Bibio” Wilkinson, whose layers of yearning vocals swirl harmoniously on what is comfortably the album’s sunniest moment. Pritchard had already displayed his freak-folk credentials with the 2006 compilation Mark Pritchard Presents… Feel The Spirit, selecting songs by Fairport Convention, Donovan and Perhacs, so their collaboration on the willowy psychedelia of “You Wash My Soul”, the ageless Perhacs cooing “I touch you, I know you” like a new-age mantra, is some coup for him.

On “Beautiful People”, Thom Yorke manages to convey the sentiment behind the track that Pritchard wrote the day he learned two friends had passed away. “A flap of the wings and the chaos that it brings”, he sings, almost mumbling, though as always you know exactly what he means, as shaded flute loops tumble into each other. It’s a subtle, powerful piece, and somehow justifies the fact that Yorke’s involvement in this record has given the album campaign a huge lift. An unassuming master of his art, Pritchard has long been a producers’ producer – Yorke was merely doffing his cap – and now Under The Sun proves he can tell a story, too.

Q&A
In 25 years, this is your first solo album under your own name – what changed?
It got to the point where I’ve had so many names over the years that I needed to simplify it. It’s hard enough trying to build one name in the current musical climate, but building up 20 names over the past 25 years has not been the best game plan – it’s confusing. At first the record was going to be quite avant-garde electronic and experimental, but it evolved into more melodic pieces with different emotions.

How did “You Wash My Soul”, the collaboration with US folk singer Linda Perhacs, come about?
I’d heard she was working on the follow-up to her 1970 album Parallelograms, which is one of the best albums in that style of all time, and was open to collaboration. In theory it’s nice to say, “Oh, I’d love to make a track with Linda Perhacs”, but it’s not so easy to write it – it took me months. Luckily she loved what I sent her, and did an amazing job. It’s got the feel of what I love about her first album. She’s a special lady, a first-generation, spiritual, West Coast LA hippy type.

What’s Thom Yorke singing on “Beautiful People”?
I wrote that the morning I heard two friends had passed away, around six years ago. It was always going to be on the album. Radiohead had asked me to remix a song from The King Of Limbs, and then we met when they were in Sydney, and I sat next to Thom at dinner. I asked him if he would be up for doing something and he said, “Yeah, I’ll do whatever you want.” I sent him four tracks and he sent back two ideas, one for “Beautiful People”. I’d told him what the song means and to take from that what he wants.
INTERVIEW: PIERS MARTIN

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

Kris Kristofferson: “I’m sure I made some stupid mistakes…”

To celebrate Kris Kristofferson’s 80th birthday today, we thought we’d post this Album By Album interview with Kristofferson that originally ran in Uncut’s Take 187 [December 2012]. Back then, Kristofferson was a mere 76 years old, of course…

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AXA_Kris_K

Ask Kris Kristofferson how he’s doing and he chuckles. “Pretty good, pretty good… pretty old.” At 76, the country legend certainly has plenty of life to look back on. Kristofferson had already been a Rhodes scholar, an army captain, a janitor at Columbia’s Nashville studio, a helicopter pilot and a killer songwriter before finally becoming one of the biggest recording artists and movie stars of the 70s. Revealing a muse still in fine fettle, his new album Feeling Mortal is a reflective affair, and Uncut finds him happily inclined to cast an eye over his numerous achievements. “Songs are just like your kids,” he says. “You love them all and they’re all different. I can’t really pick out favourites.”

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON
Kristofferson
Monument, 1970
Already 34, Kristofferson releases one of the great debut albums, a record crammed with timeless songs, many of which had already been hits for others – or soon would be…
I’d had five years of being in Nashville where they didn’t even want me to sing my own demos! I got other people to sing them for me, but then my publisher couldn’t afford to do that any more so I had to sing them myself. But Fred [Foster] at Monument decided I was a singer-songwriter, so I followed his advice and did it. I’m sure there were people who wondered why in the world I thought I would make it as a singer, but it was something I loved, whether I was built for it or not. And it worked out. Everything was working magically. Johnny Cash was my friend and was doing my song, “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, and suddenly everything seemed to be turning out for the best.

kristofferson

The album is quite produced. I probably wouldn’t record it the same way now, but at the time I felt they were making the songs sound better than they were! I’m lucky that I got to put as much of myself into this record as I did, because country music still wasn’t as wide open as it is now. It didn’t change overnight, it was a slow process. Bob Dylan was the guy who changed it all. Dylan’s relationship with Johnny Cash was the biggest influence on Nashville in my lifetime – they opened up country music. Dylan was the ground breaker we all benefited from, and Cash met him halfway. The next thing you know we started writing as freely as Bob was. I was suddenly aware that the soulful part of the songwriters in Nashville that I identified with would eventually prevail.

There were so many different ways we were trying to do it. I would demo something at night by myself over at the publishing house and get Billy Swan and Donnie Fritts to sing harmony. We did “Me And Bobby McGee” that way. I remember Billy saying, “Man, this feels real spiritual, like ‘Hey Jude’”! We loved the feel of it so much. I knew it was a good one; sometimes they’re keepers and sometimes they’re not. I can remember writing “Help Me Make It Through The Night” in the Gulf of Mexico. It was pretty lonely work out there and it came real fast.

I still sing just about every one of these things. I haven’t done “Blame It On The Stones” or “The Law Is For The Protection Of The People” in a while – all the others, I’m embarrassed to say, I’m singing all the time. But performing them still feels creative to me. They’re things that I can believe in.

Hear the Avalanches new track, “Subways”

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The Avalanches have released a new track from their forthcoming album, Wildflower.

Subways” is the third track lifted from the album – after “Frankie Sinatra” featuring Danny Brown and MF Doom, and “Colours“, which featured vocals from Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue.

Wildflower will be released on July 8 by XL Recordings. It is the band’s first album since their 2000 debut, Since I Left You.

Said the band’s Robbie Chater, “What kept us going during the making this record was a belief in the day-to-day experience of music as a life force – as life energy. Hearing a certain song on a certain morning can change your day; it can make the world look different, changing the way you perceive light refracting through the atmosphere for the rest of the afternoon. Literally changing the colour and feeling-tone of your world.”

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

Drive-By Truckers announce new album, American Band

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Drive-By Truckers have announced details of their new album, American Band.

It will be released by ATO Records on September 30.

It arrives during a busy year for the band, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary and heading out on the Darkened Flags 2016 Tour across America, beginning in August.

The album was recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium with longtime producer/engineer David Barbe. Ahead of the album’s release, the band have previewed a new song “Surrender Under Protest” on NPR – you can hear it by clicking here.

“We are beyond thrilled to announce the release date of our new album American Band,” says Patterson Hood.

“We are launching the Preorder and our friends at NPR are posting a first taste so you can get a little sample of what we’ve been up to.

“‘Surrender Under Protest‘ is a Mike Cooley composition that is unlike any DBT song we’ve ever recorded, yet somehow sounds unmistakably like us. In a way, that’s pretty indicative of the album as a whole.

“These are crazy times and we have made a record steeped in this moment of history that we’re all trying to live through. We’ve always considered ourselves a political band, even when that aspect seemed to be concealed by some type of narrative device i.e. Dealing with issues of race by telling a story set in the time of George Wallace or class struggles by setting “Putting People On The Moon” in the age of Reagan.

This time out, there are no such diversions as these songs are mostly set front and center in the current political arena with songs dealing with our racial and cultural divisions, gun violence, mass shootings and political assholery. Once again, there is a nearly even split between the songs of Cooley and myself, with both of us bringing in songs that seem to almost imply a conversation between us about our current place in time.

American Band is a sort of rock and roll call to arms as well as a musical reset button for our band and the country we live in. Most of all, we look at it as the beginnings of some conversations that we, as a people very much need to begin having if we ever hope to break through the divisions that are threatening to tear us apart.

Drive-By Truckers are celebrating our twentieth anniversary as a band in an election year where some people are trying to define what it is to be American. Definitions based on some outdated ideology of prejudice and fear. We are loudly proclaiming that those people don’t speak for us. America is and always has been a land of immigrants and ideals. Ideals that we have often fallen short of achieving, but it’s the striving that has given us whatever claims to greatness we have had. That’s what America means to us and ‘We’re an American Band.'”

The tracklisting for American Band is:

Ramon Casiano
Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn
Surrender Under Protest
Guns of Umpqua
Filthy and Fried
When the Sun Don’t Shine
Kinky Hypocrites
Ever South
What It Means
Once They Banned Imagine
Baggage

The August 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Neil Young, plus the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Arthur Lee and Love, Jimmy Webb, Ultravox!, Radiohead, Steve Gunn, Mick Harvey, Fleetwood Mac, Ramones, William Burroughs, Bat For Lashes, Bruce Springsteen and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.