Roy Orbison‘s first career-spanning anthology is due for release on October 28.
The 26-track Ultimate Collection runs from his early recordings for Sun Records and Monument Records through his time at MGM and his membership of the Traveling Wilburys.
The set has been compiled by Orbison’s sons, Alex, Wesley and Roy Jr. In a statement quoted by Rolling Stone, Alex Orbison said, “It is a great honour for me and my brothers, Wesley and Roy Jr., to finally and definitively distill our father’s entire career onto a single disc as best one can possibly do and, certainly, as never done before. It is the result of years of research, archiving and listening, and it is with supreme and heartfelt pleasure that we will be able to share it with the world.”
The Ultimate Collection is released as a single CD or double vinyl.
Bruce Springsteen has announced a a tour to promote his autobiography, Born To Run.
Springsteen will make a series of appearances at bookstores around the US this autumn, following the release of the memoir on September 27.
The tour begins in his hometown of New Jersey and includes dates in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Springsteen discussed his reasons for writing the biography in a recent interview with Vanity Fair. “I had to find the roots of my own troubles and issues,” he explained, “and the joyful things that have allowed me to put on the kind of shows that we put on.”
Born To Run will be accompanied by a compilation album Chapter and Verse, which includes five new tracks.
Born To Run book tour dates:
Freehold, NJ, Barnes & Noble (September 27)
New York, NY, Barnes & Noble Union Square (28)
Philadelphia, PA, Free Library of Philadelphia (29)
Seattle, WA, Elliott Bay Book Company (October 1)
Los Angeles, CA, Barnes & Noble at The Grove (3)
Portland, OR, Powell’s City of Books (4)
San Francisco, CA, City Arts & Lectures (5)
New York, NY, The New Yorker Festival (7)
Cambridge, MA, The Harvard Coop (10)
Bon Iver have announced a European tour – their first since 2012 – taking place across January and February 2017.
A full list of dates – which includes shows at London’s Roundhouse and Eventim Apollo Hammersmith – can be found below.
Before these dates, Justin Vernon, The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner and others will be curating a two-day music event at Funkhaus in Berlin on October 1 and 2. Over 80 artists will feature, including all members of Bon Iver, POLIÇA, Alt-J, Nils Frahm and The Staves.
Bon Iver’s new album – 22, A Million – is released on September 30 on Jagjaguwar. Check www.uncut.co.uk for more Bon Iver news soon.
Bon Iver will play:
January 22 – Paris, FR @ Le Zenith
January 23 – Utrecht, NL @ TivoliVredenburg
January 24 – Frankfurt, DE @ Jahrhunderthalle
January 25 – Zurich, CH @ Samsung Hall
January 27 – Luxembourg, LU @ Rockhal
January 29 – Oslo, NO @ Spektrum
January 30 – Stockholm, SE @ Cirkus
January 31 – Stockholm, SE @ Cirkus
February 2 – Copenhagen, DK @ The Grey Hall
February 03 – Copenhagen, DK @ The Grey Hall
February 05 – Hamburg, DE @ Mehr! Theatre
February 06 – Berlin, DE @ Tempodrom
February 08 – Brussels, BE @ Forest National
February 10 – Blackpool, UK @ Empress Ballroom
February 12 – Edinburgh, UK @ Playhouse Theatre
February 13 – Edinburgh, UK @ Playhouse Theatre
February 15 – London, UK @ Roundhouse
February 16 – London, UK @ Roundhouse
February 19 – London, UK @ Eventim Apollo Hammersmith
It’s a small moment, but a telling one: nearly two minutes into “More Than Ever”, a fraught song about love gone horrifically and perhaps therefore hilariously wrong, Lydia Loveless lets out a chuckle, a short, sharp exhalation of breath, before delivering the next line, “But if self-control is what you want, I’d have to break all of my fingers off.” It’s a wonderfully unscripted moment, nothing likely to appear in the lyrics sheet for her third album, Real, but that sly “huh” carries as much meaning as the actual words: that Loveless has seen love go bad before, that she is no stranger to a sexual desire that ignores reason and self-preservation, that she can find some humour in her failings, that she’d remove every last digit if that’s what it takes. Most crucially, that chuckle reveals that Loveless has become as ingenious a singer as she is a songwriter.
Few songwriters in any genre are chronicling the vagaries and vulgarities of commitment with as much wit as this Ohio native, and few singers are bending notes and breaking syllables with as much soulful self-abnegation. After recording her debut LP at 15, Loveless signed with venerable alt.country label Bloodshot for 2012’s Indestructible Machine and 2014’s Somewhere Else, and with each record has sharpened her language as well as her observations. Real is even smarter, even more precise in its insights and even more merciless in its hard truths. In other words, it’s her best yet.
Similarly, with each record, Loveless (now in her mid-twenties) and her road-tested backing band have been gradually and self-assuredly moving away from the slick production of her first album and the hard-knuckle alt.country of her second towards a kind of Midwestern rock sound: all rough edges, slurred delivery, industrial guitars, torn hose, smeared lipstick. This is an album where it’s always 2am on a bad night, where every song is set in an empty bedroom or a crowded club. The guitars chime and churn rather than twang, kicking up a kind of flyover-state jangle that’s sympathetic one minute, jeering the next, and producer Joe Viers underlines everything with a bed of austere synths.
This country-not-country palette allows Loveless to be just as adventurous musically as she is lyrically. “Heaven” builds off an earworm bassline that jabs at the listener, as though shadowboxing, while Loveless adds a compact and sharply barbed hook that’s as catchy as it is fatalistic: “Paradise is for the weak, man/No-one goes to heaven!” Later, she strips everything down to guitars and some industrial machinery on “Out On Love”, one of her best and most devastating performances.
At this point it’s almost redundant to say that Loveless’ songwriting on Real is sharp, economical and wickedly funny. She’s always had a gift for precision, unspooling complex scenes in just a few lines. On first single “Longer”, she admits, “Burned the breakfast again/Don’t know what I’m doing, something I saw on TV.” You get the impression of a woman with enough time on her hands to watch food porn but not enough to get the recipe right. And she sneaks in that “again” to let you know this isn’t the first time she’s set off the smoke detector.
That’s the remarkable irony of Loveless as a singer-songwriter: she never sounds quite as strong or quite as confident as she does when she’s at her weakest. She provokes fights with friends, takes back cheating lovers, falls for the wrong guy over and over again, and generally does all the things she knows she shouldn’t do. Real is a catalogue of bad decisions and questionable actions, yet she sounds most comfortable when she’s at loose ends, whether she’s peeping through an ex’s window on “European” or contemplating calling up a married man on “Desire”. Oddly enough, Loveless has explained that the album and its title were inspired by a newfound confidence in herself, an acceptance of her own and others’ faults. Happiness has softened a lot of songwriters, but she is wisely suspicious of contentment, as much for emotional as for creative reasons. So even a song like “Bilbao”, with its devotional chorus – “Marry me, there’s nowhere in the world I would rather be” – is shot through with melancholy and loss, a dread not of the end of happiness but the surrendering of self. Loveless knows you lose a little something of yourself to any lover, but she’s fighting to have it both ways and answering the world with a resounding chuckle.
As a vocalist, how do you get in the right headspace to convey the complex emotions in these songs?
I wish I could say I was capable of routines. In the past, I was too eager to get as much shit done in one day as possible, but now I realise if I want to sound my best, I need to sleep more and actually focus on my voice. Maybe this isn’t news to a lot of artists. Also, Throat Coat tea. And good-luck American flag bandanas.
You’ve been gradually moving away from alt.country…
I’d say it’s a natural progression. I go back and forth so constantly with what I like to play. It’s a mood thing. I was just in a very poppy headspace. Right now I’m a little sadder, so I’m writing more folk stuff lately. I want to be known as a songwriter, not a “honkytonk whiskey-guzzlin’ princess” or whatever.
What’s it like to live with such personal and dark songs and play them night after night? Is it exhausting or cathartic?
These songs are the only things that get me through, so I would say cathartic. Without them all I would have to look back on is the horrible emotions and behaviours from the time period in which I was writing them. I was in a dark, dark place, and I’m ready to come out of that phase and hold these songs up like, “Yeah! I lived! And I’m better now.”
INTERVIEW: STEPHEN DEUSNER
David Bowie‘s final studio recordings will be released on the Lazarus Cast Album on October 21 on ISO / RCA Records.
The three songs, “No Plan”, “Killing A Little Time” and “When I Met You”, also appear in Lazarus. They have been co-produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti and recorded with Donny McCaslin and his quartet, the same band that played on Bowie’s ★ album.
The artwork for the Lazarus cast recording has been designed by Jonathan Barnbrook who also worked with Bowie on the ★, The Next Day, Heathen and Nothing Has Changed albums.
The album will be released as a 2CD / 3LP set. Pre-order from September 16 will include instand downloads of the cast recordings, “Life On Mars?” and “Lazarus”.
The tracklisting for Lazarus is:
CD 1: Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye Heart) – Ricky Nelson Lazarus – Michael C. Hall & Original New York Cast of Lazarus It’s No Game – Michael C. Hall, Lynn Craig & Original New York Cast of Lazarus This Is Not America – Sophia Anne Caruso & Original New York Cast of Lazarus The Man Who Sold The World – Charlie Pollack No Plan – Sophia Anne Caruso Love Is Lost – Michael Esper & Original New York Cast of Lazarus Changes – Cristin Milioti & Original New York Cast of Lazarus Where Are We Now – Michael C. Hall & Original New York Cast of Lazarus Absolute Beginners – Michael C. Hall, Cristin Milioti, Michael Esper, Sophia Anne Caruso, Krystina Alabado & Original New York Cast of Lazarus Dirty Boys – Michael Esper Killing A Little Time – Michael C. Hall Life On Mars – Sophia Anne Caruso All The Young Dudes – Nicholas Christopher, Lynn Craig, Michael Esper, Sophia Anne Caruso & Original New York Cast of Lazarus Sound And Vision – David Bowie Always Crashing in the Same Car – Cristin Militia Valentine’s Day – Michael Esper & Original New York Cast of Lazarus When I Met You – Michael C. Hall & Krystina Alabama Heroes – 4:43 – Michael C. Hall, Sophia Anne Caruso & Original New York Cast of Lazarus
CD 2: Lazarus – David Bowie No Plan – David Bowie Killing A Little Time – David Bowie When I Met You – David Bowie
VINYL: LP 1 side A: Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye Heart) – Ricky Nelson Lazarus – Michael C. Hall & Original New York Cast of Lazarus It’s No Game – Michael C. Hall, Lynn Craig & Original New York Cast of Lazarus This Is Not America – Sophia Anne Caruso & Original New York Cast of Lazarus The Man Who Sold the World – Charlie Pollack
LP 1 side B: No Plan – Sophia Anne Caruso Love Is Lost – Michael Esper & Original New York Cast of Lazarus Changes – Cristin Milioti & Original New York Cast of Lazarus Where Are We Now? – Michael C. Hall & Original New York Cast of Lazarus
LP 2 side C: Absolute Beginners – Michael C. Hall, Cristin Milioti, Michael Esper, Sophia Anne Caruso, Krystina Alabado & Original New York Cast of Lazarus Dirty Boys – Michael Esper Killing a Little Time – Michael C. Hall Life On Mars? – Sophia Anne Caruso All the Young Dudes – Nicholas Christopher, Lynn Craig, Michael Esper, Sophia Anne Caruso & Original New York Cast of Lazarus
LP 2 side D: Sound and Vision – David Bowie Always Crashing in the Same Car – Cristin Militia Valentine’s Day – Michael Esper & Original New York Cast of Lazarus When I Met You – Michael C. Hall & Krystina Alabama Heroes – Michael C. Hall, Sophia Anne Caruso & Original New York Cast of Lazarus
LP 3 side E (one-sided): Lazarus – David Bowie No Plan – David Bowie Killing a Little Time – David Bowie When I Met You – David Bowie
Yusuf / Cat Stevens, has announced four November dates.
A Cat’s Attic will feature a limited run of stripped-down, introspective performances which coincides with the 50th anniversary of his first hit single release, “I Love My Dog”. Starting in Manchester, the Tour will also travel to Glasgow, Newcastle and end in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
Tickets go on sale Friday, September 16th at 9am from www.livenation.co.uk
“It’s hard to believe that I will be playing in the theatre that I used to illegally climb the roof of as a teenager, right across the road from where I lived in London,” says Yusuf. “I’m really looking forward to these shows and visiting some of the cities I played 50 years ago.”
A Cat’s Attic: Yusuf/Cat Stevens play:
November: Mon 14th MANCHESTER, Apollo
Wed 16th GLASGOW, Clyde Auditorium
Fri 18th NEWCASTLE, City Hall
Sun 20th LONDON, Shaftesbury Theatre
Pre-sale will run from 9am Wednesday, September 14 until 10pm Thursday, September 15 at www.catstevens.com.
Marianne Faithfull has announced details of a new live album and DVD.
No Exit was recorded during her 50th anniversary tour around Europe in 2014.
It will be released on October 7 by EarMusic as a CD/DVD, CD/Blu-ray and vinyl album.
CD/Blue-ray Intro (live)
The Price Of Love
Love, More Or Less
As Tears Go By
Late Victorian Holocaust
Sparrows Will Sing
The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan
Blu-ray and DVD
Budapest Concert (Müpa 15.12.2014) Give My Love To London
The Witches Song
Price of Love
Love More Or Less
As Tears Go By
Come And Stay With Me
Late Victorian Holocaust
Sparrows Will Sing
The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan
Who Will Take My Dreams Away
Bonus 2 – Extract from Live in London (Roundhouse 02.02.2016) Give My Love To London
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue
Late Victorian Holocaust
LP Side A Intro
The Price Of Love
Love More Or Less
As Tears Go By
LP Side B Sister Morphine
Late Victorian Holocaust
Sparrows Will Sing
The Ballad of Lucy Jordan
The quest for world dominations enters a new phase, as Queen lay waste to South America. RAY COLEMAN follows them to Buenos Aires and Rio, into stadiums that have only previously hosted the Pope and Sinatra, and joins in the after-hours revelry. Nothing evidently succeeds like excess, though there are moments of reflection. “I just don’t know about this any more,” muses Roger Taylor. “It doesn’t seem right, somehow, with Britain in a recession.” Originally published in Melody Maker‘s 14/3/1981 issue, and reproduced in Uncut‘s Queen Ultimate Music Guide – available to buy here.
“No time for losers, no pleasure cruise/It’s been no bed of roses… But we are the champions of the world” – From Queen’s “We Are The Champions”
Sometimes, in its never-ending quest for record-breaking, mind-blowing, egotistical statistics, rock’n’roll becomes almost obscene. The best-selling album, the fastest-moving single, the biggest this, the heaviest that, the loudest band, the richest star, the highest, the lowest, the grossest – just who’s trying to impress whom?
Playing the numbers game became such a boring sport among the Division One bands that, in 1977, we saw the punk uprising partly as a backlash. A few top bands retired, hurt or embarrassed, from grand-slam appearances. But not Queen. The majesty that begat their name has always been carried forth into great fanfares heralding their latest record or concert tour. Right from their start, in 1971, Queen were intent on reaching the top of the tree.
With a clinical analysis of what it took to mould the right components into a hit formula, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon set about the rock business to become the champions they were to sing about. John was an electronics graduate. May ditched a fine future as an astrophysicist. Mercury could have scored as an artist in advertising. Roger studied dentistry, and graduated in biology. Coolly, they decided that if all four were to pawn successful careers in favour of music, they had better set about it scientifically and succeed brilliantly.
Few would deny their soaraway achievements. And last week, Queen chalked up a major international “first” by becoming the band to do for popular music in South America what The Beatles did for North America 17 years ago. Half a million Argentinians and Brazilians, starved of appearances of top British or American bands at their peak, gave Queen a heroic welcome which changed the course of pop history in this uncharted territory of the world rock map.
In open-air concerts at temperatures of around 96 degrees, in stifling humidity, the ecstatic young people saw eight Queen concerts at giant stadia, while many more millions saw the shows on TV and heard the radio broadcasts live.
The scenes of fan-fever were astonishing, even to war veterans of rock – and the promoter of their first shows, at the Vélez Sarsfield World Cup soccer stadium in Buenos Aires, was emotionally moved to say after their debut: “For music in Argentina, this has been a case of before the war and after the war. Queen have liberated this country, musically speaking.”
The risk in Queen’s South American tour was considerable: because no band of their stature or theatricality had attempted a full-scale rock show there, the response of the 35,000-strong audience at the first show was unpredictable. South American security arrangements had never had to deal with pop crowds of this size, even if they were used to football enthusiasts: the ages of the audiences would be different, and who was to know how they might react to the volume levels?
Culture shock it may have been for them, but there was no violence, no aggravation, few uniformed police visible – and a spine-tingling, deafening roar of approval from crowds who may have been experiencing their first huge rock show, but who had found out earlier all about the “lighted candles” routine and how to get two encores.
Remembering the American bands who should theoretically have got to this part of the world earlier, on the basis of geography alone, it was a great triumph for British rock to have made such an impact with the first giant shows in this part of the globe. Buenos Aires was also a statistician’s dream.
The tour had taken a full nine months to plan. Queen had just finished a Japanese tour, so more than 20 tons of their equipment had to be flown into Argentina from Tokyo on a DC8 charter, one of the world’s longest direct flights. Expensive! A further 40 tons of gear came in from Miami, including a full football pitch covering of artificial turf to protect the football stadium’s hallowed ground.
At a cost of £40,000, Queen flew in their own 16 tons of scaffolding from Los Angeles, which staggered the Argentinians. Queen’s crew began building the 100-foot high, 140-foot long and 40-foot deep stage five days before the show, partly to convince local organisers that they were actually going through with the plan to perform. Earth, Wind And Fire and Peter Frampton are the only other top stars who have performed in South America, and after several false starts in negotiations and broken promises by other acts, local sceptics were disinclined to believe
a band of Queen’s prestige were going to perform in their country.
Tickets cost £10 or £15 each, and £20 each for the 3,500 people restricted to the grass area. There was a quick sell-out of the Buenos Aires concerts, making a total attendance of over 100,000 for the three shows in the capital alone. With a nine million population, it is one of the world’s biggest cities.
There were two customs problems for the band. The stage and crew backstage passes, showing two naked girls, one of whom held a banana, was declared obscene and only allowed into Argentina after “Honest, Guv!” statements by the band’s henchmen. And because the import of explosives is not unnaturally banned, they had some explaining to do about the canisters of flash powder without which a Queen show wouldn’t be cricket.
Peter Gabriel has released a new song, “The Veil“.
The track is taken from Oliver Stone’s forthcoming film, Snowden – a biopic of whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
Said Gabriel: “As we become so visible in the digital world and leave an endless trail of data behind us, exactly who has our data and what they do with it becomes increasingly important.
Snowden’s revelations shocked the world and made it very clear why we need to have some way to look over those who look over us. With increasing terrorist attacks, security is critical, but not without any accountability or oversight.
I was very happy to learn Oliver Stone had decided to make a film about Edward Snowden and believe this is a powerful and inspiring film.
Oliver takes his music very seriously and I have always enjoyed collaborating with him and [music supervisor] Budd Carr.”
Earlier this year, Gabriel released another new song, “I’m Amazing“, partly inspired by Muhammad Ali.
Bob Dylan has unveiled his latest project: a set of enormous iron gates that are going on permanent display at a casino in Maryland.
Dylan, who previously exhibited iron sculptures at the Halcyon Gallery in London in 2013, has now built a 26-by-15-foot custom archway called Portal, which will be permanently displayed at Maryland’s MGM’s National Harbor Casino when it opens later this year.
“Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow,” Dylan said in a statement, reported by Rolling Stone. “They can be closed, but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways, there is no difference.”
“Mr. Dylan is undoubtedly one of the greatest musicians of our time, but his incredible metalwork sculptures are a testament to his creative genius and ability to transcend mediums,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International. “As a company founded upon entertainment, we’re truly inspired by artists who channel their energy into diverse paths. We’re proud to collaborate with Mr. Dylan and bring his vision to MGM National Harbor’s Heritage Collection in a way that enhances this sensory resort experience.”
Margo Price reveals her musical journey in the current issue of Uncut, dated October 2016 and out now.
The Nashville-based country singer and songwriter released her debut solo album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, on Jack White‘s Third Man label earlier this year, after overcoming the death of her child, and time in jail for drink-driving.
“The first 27 years of my life weren’t a walk in the park, so I look at the positives,” she tells Uncut. “I have a healthy baby at home. I have a husband who loves me. I have the God-given gift to sing. Those three things have kept me going, but also just the lack of knowing what the hell else to do. I knew that this was my true calling, so I had to keep going until I either lost my mind or somebody said, ‘Hey, you’re good!'”
Uncut travelled to Nashville for a night on the town with Price and husband Jeremy Ivey, for a feature published in the current issue.
Discussing her honest, autobiographical songs, Price says: “Sometimes it’s painful to wear your heart on your sleeve and go through those details night after night, but hopefully it’s helping somebody else out there who might not have someone to talk to.”
Thom Yorke has shared his thoughts on Radiohead, Atoms For Peace and forthcoming collaborations during a three-hour Radio 1 show which Yorke co-hosted with presenter Benji B.
Asked about the release of his solo album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, which premiered on bit torrent services, Yorke said: “Enough of that now. I’ve entirely had enough of that. No more fuss, just put it out. I’m getting too old for that. It takes away from things a bit, and it’s sometimes frustrating. The energy of trying to do it differently and circumvent the monsters, you’re like…. whatever.”
In the show, Yorke also revealed that he’s been making new music with Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden and Burial. The trio released a joint single in 2011, and Yorke said: “I’m hoping to do it again soon. I did another thing, but the vocal was too dark, according to Kieran. For me, that’s ‘Really? Too dark, even for me? OK.’”
Yorke confirmed Radiohead will play more shows in 2017, after a break following their final show this year at Austin City Limits festival in Texas in October. Yorke said: “We’ll do some more shows next year, but I don’t know exactly what yet.”
He also revealed he wants to revive Atoms For Peace, his band with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, ex-REM drummer Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco.
The 42-song show saw a new remix by Yorke of MF Doom’s “Gazill” as well as songs by Cocteau Twins, Vince Staples, Zomby, 2 Bad Mice, J Dilla, Death Grips, Scott Walker, Clams Casino and ESG.
There’s a revealing scene in 20,000 Days On Earth, the fictionalised account of a day in Nick Cave‘s life, where the singer meets his chief collaborator Warren Ellis for lunch. Over eels and pasta, the two musicians share a fruity anecdote about Nina Simone (punch line: “champagne, cocaine and sausages”) that underscores the idea of performance as a transformative experience; one of the many threads running through Iain Pollard and Jane Forsyth’s exceptional work.
Andrew Dominik’s new film, One More Time With Feeling, finds Cave similarly interrogating the creative process – though it comes freighted with unimaginably heavy baggage: the death of Cave’s 15 year old son, Arthur, in July 2015, midway through recording the latest Bad Seeds studio album, Skeleton Tree. Cutting between Cave finishing recording the album at La Frette Studios, France during Autumn 2015, performing it at London’s Air studios with the Bad Seeds and a series of interviews with the filmmaker, One More Time With Feeling reveals a family coming to terms with their loss and a group of musicians who are trying to plot a course through a difficult emotional time with honesty and dignity. If 20,000 Days On Earth was an exercise in blurring truth and fiction, One More Time With Feeling finds Cave very much laid bare. “We all wish we had something to write about,” he tells Dominik. “But all that trauma and the way this happened, it was extremely damaging for the creative process.”
There is plenty of this kind of pontificating and self-scrutiny as Cave attempts to make sense of his tragedy within the context of his art. Is that even possible, he wonders? His earlier narrative songs, he explains, “held my life together at a point.” Now, he continues, “I don’t believe that life is like that. A pleasing resolve.” He expresses self-doubt – “You decay and you diminish. The struggle to do what I do becomes harder” – and finds rueful black humour in the physical toll of his son’s death. “I look like a battered monument.” Elsewhere, he discusses the prophetic nature of songwriting, the elasticity of time and a fear of words; but often these ideas go nowhere or he later discounts them. You sense Cave is exploring the depth and breadth of his feelings as he goes along. He tells of crying in his friend’s arms in the street, only to realise it was a stranger, and the “kind looks” he gets in the queue at his local bakers. He asks rhetorically, “When did you become an object of pity?”
Cave is not alone in his struggle, of course. His wife, Susie Bick, becomes an increasingly significant presence as the film progresses. In one heart-breaking scene, she shows Dominik a picture Arthur painted, when he was five, of a local windmill; coincidentally, it is near the site where he died last year. Arthur’s surviving twin, Earl, also appears; a normal teenage boy, it seems. But there’s a moment when the camera catches him reflexively stroking the back of his mother’s hair – an intimate, protective gesture.
Cave and Dominik have form together. Cave wrote the score for and appeared in Dominik’s Western, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford; Cave invited Dominik to film One More Time With Feeling. In a director’s statement, Dominik outlines Cave’s thoughts going into the film: “Nick told me that he had some things he needed to say, but he didn’t know who to say them to. The idea of a traditional interview, he said, was simply unfeasible but that he felt a need to let the people who cared about his music understand the basic state of things. It seemed to me that he was trapped somewhere and just needed to do something – anything – to at least give the impression of forward movement.”
The friendship between the two men allows for some levity to enter the proceedings. At the start, there is some relaxed back and forth about what shirt Cave should wear to the studio and Cave’s dryly disparaging views on Dominik’s “ridiculous 3D black and white camera”. Later, Cave and Ellis discuss the lustrous quality of Cave’s hair. “Is my hair all right?” “Never looked better. Proceed with confidence.” Ellis is a critical part of the film and the early part of the film follows him and Cave during the recording and editing process for Skeleton Tree, as they discuss comparatively mundane things like re-recording a vocal that didn’t quite work. Gradually, Ellis’ role changes becomes less clearly defined, but evidently his work behind the scenes – literally, metaphorically, spritually – is invaluable. “What would I do without him?” Cave muses. “He is holding everything together.”
There is, of course, music in Dominik’s film. While at Air Studios, Cave sits at his piano in the centre of the room with Ellis opposite him; the rest of the Bad Seeds stepping into view when their particular skills are required. It’s largely a two-man show – Cave at his piano, while Ellis provides support with violin and an array of sonic effects. The songs are pillowed by vaporous electronic backing – in the film, you frequently see Ellis rocking back and forth, hunched over his MicroKorg keyboard – that recall the slow-moving, aquatic drift of Push The Sky Away and the textural explorations of Cave and Ellis’ deceptively simple and stripped-down soundtracks. Here, Ellis’ violin and keyboard wreath the songs like mist, imbuing them with a soft, mournful ambience.
The tone is set by “Jesus Alone”, where Cave sing-speaks over a backing of spectral analogue washes and electronic whistling. “You fell from the sky / Crash-landed in a field near the River Adur” begins Cave and this seems as close as the album gets to specifically addressing his son’s death. Even at its most abstract – “a ghost song lodged in the throat of a mermaid” – the song is steeped in anguish and pain. “With my voice, I am calling you” Cave repeats in the chorus. “Girl In Amber” finds Cave, accompanied by a simple cycling piano refrain and a discreet string motif, continuing to explore his grief: “I used to think that when you died you kind of wandered the world in a slumber till you crumbled, were absorbed into the earth, but I don’t think that any more”. “Magneto”, meanwhile, is framed only by a few piano notes, a strange hiss like a detuned radio set and the occasional strum of an acoustic guitar. A depiction of the effects of trauma, “In the bathroom mirror, I see me vomit in the sink”, it contains one of the album’s best lines – simultaneously funny and dark – “I had such hard blues down there in the supermarket queues”. All the same, the atmosphere is so spare and intimate, you feel like you’re curled up deep inside Cave’s piano.
“Anthrocene” continues to address head-on concepts of loss (“All of the things we love, we love, we love, we lose”) while the song itself – loose-limbed, skittish – spins around him. In Dominik’s film, we see Thomas Wydler almost levitate off his stool as he moves fluidly round his drum kit delivering susurrating flourishes of percussion; Jim Sclavunos, meanwhile, adds subtle xylophone flourishes. At one point, Cave explains to Dominik that the naked nature of the songs are reflective of the emotions Cave and his band are attempting to process. It is evident on “I Need You”, which appears to be a direct appeal to Bick. Over a sighed chorus from the Bad Seeds, and swelling and subsiding MiniKorg lines, Cave sings, “Just breathe, just breathe, I need you”.
There is something unexpectedly yearning – and deeply moving – about “Distant Sky”, as Ellis’ violin swells and rises to meet Else Torp’s uplifting soprano contribution. “Let us go now my only companion, set out for the distant sky, soon the children will be rising, will be rising, this is not for our eyes”. The album closes with the title song, buoyed along on a gently lilting piano melody and slow acoustic strum, it has the same sense of space as “Brompton Oratory” – arguably, The Boatman’s Call is possibly the most appropriate point of comparison for Skeleton Tree. Another deeply personal album, with the singer addressing love and pain in a similarly open-hearted fashion and in which the Bad Seeds were required to rethink their requirements. “Skeleton Tree”, at last, finds a sliver of hope at the album’s end: “And it’s alright now”, he sighs, although to whom this reassuring sentiment is directed isn’t clear.
This morning’s listening, and I guess in some ways much that has preceded it this week, has been inevitably overwhelmed by the arrival of Nick Cave’s “Skeleton Tree”. Keep an eye on www.uncut.co.uk: Michael is writing something about that and One More Time With Feeling that should be posted any time now.
If you can negotiate other music today, plenty more here to endorse: the new Lambchop classic; Danny Brown and Steve Hauschildt (not together, sadly); beautiful folk/ambient experiments by Padang Food Tigers and Seabuckthorn; an amazing old Atlantan gospel/soul track plucked from a neat new Ace comp; Botany (next level from Floating Points, maybe); the return of Mike Wexler; a new Hiss Golden Messenger video; a remix of Xylouris White by an ex-Avalanche, bizarrely; Pony Hunt, strongly recommended to Hurray For The Riff Raff/Deslondes fans; and, of course, the first Shirley Collins record in, I think, 38 years. We’ve known about that last surprise a while now – Jim Wirth has written an extraordinary piece with Shirley for the next issue of Uncut – and so it’s a pleasure and relief to finally be able to talk about it. Also the Leonard Cohen album is, I’m pretty convinced, his best this millennium; can’t wait to share some of that when tracks become available…
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1 Lambchop – FLOTUS (City Slang/Merge)
2 Joe Westerlund – Mojave Interlude (Northern Spy)
Shirley Collins has announced details of Lodestar – her first studio album in 38 years.
The album is released on November 4 by Domino.
Lodestar is a collection of English, American and Cajun songs dating from the 16th Century to the 1950s, recorded at Shirley’s home in Lewes by Stephen Thrower and Ossian Brown of Cyclobe and produced and musically directed by Ian Kearey.
The first track to be shared from Lodestar is “Cruel Lincoln“. Collins explains the history of the song: “This is an ancient ballad, found only rarely in England. The theory is that Cruel Lincoln was a mason who was not paid for the work he did for ‘the Lord of the Manor’ and so extracted a terrible revenge”. It also features bird song recorded at the back of Shirley’s cottage.
The tracklisting for Lodestar is:
Awake Awake – The Split Ash Tree – May Carol – Southover
The Banks of Green Willow
Death And the Lady
Old Johnny Buckle
Sur le Borde de l’Eau
The Rich Irish Lady/Jeff Sturgeon
The Silver Swan
The album will be available on limited edition deluxe vinyl with a 24 page 12” booklet featuring song notes by Collins and sleeve notes by Stewart Lee and a signed print (signed print is available exclusively via Dom Mart) and a limited edition deluxe CD with 28 page booklet and also standard vinyl.
The appeal of living off-grid, adopting a primitivist lifestyle disconnected from the mainstream, is given a boost in Matt Ross’ new film. Here, he shows us an Eden-like existence in the remote forests of the Pacific Northwest, where Viggo Mortensen’s Ben is a tough but good-hearted patriarch busy raising his six children, away from the corruptive influence of The Man.
By day, Ben tutors his brood in survival skills – there is mountaineering, hunting and martial arts – while by night he administers a robust education program ranging from 19th century Russian literature to particle physics. Alas, for all Ben’s nature skills and degree-level syllabus, the children are clearly unprepared for the real world. When their mother dies, Ben and his children embark on a five-day journey to New Mexico, where his wife’s parents are holding a Christian funeral. There is much humour – deft or otherwise – in various children’s reactions to a number of firsts: visiting a diner, seeing a video game, kissing a girl.
But while there is much to enjoy here – Mortensen’s light, comedic touch; strong support from Frank Langella, Kathryn Haan and Steve Zahn – the radical authority driving Ben’s anti-capitalist stance is gradually replaced by Ross’ over-reliance on idiosyncratic set-pieces. In places, Captain Fantastic explicitly strains for the same kind of crowd-pleasing indie-quirk as Little Miss Sunshine (another film that opens in an atmosphere of psychological crisis and pivots on a fateful family road trip). By the end, Ross has perhaps taken his characters too far onto the grid.
They don’t make British films like this any more – for that matter, they never really did in the first place. Julien Temple’s hymn to Soho society and Britain’s late-50s discovery of teen culture has gone down in official film history as one of the misguided follies of the 1980s. Yet, 30 years after release and at a far remove from the hype-fuelled expectation that preceded it, Absolute Beginners can be judged more dispassionately. Yes, it’s a patchy, overstretched, sometimes cumbersome attempt to cram three decades of British pop culture into one brashly gilded frame. Even so, it stands up today as a wonderfully exuberant gesture – crazily quixotic, perhaps, but brimming with cheek, brains and exuberance.
Ostensibly, the film is an adaptation of Colin Macinnes’s 1959 novel about being young in a London that was shrugging off the heavy overcoat of post-war British austerity. In reality, Temple imagined the movie as several other things. It’s a knowingly anachronistic celebration of British jazz culture, of a sort that had acquired a modishly revisionist new lease of life in UK 80s pop. It’s a psychogeography of a lost London, from Piccadilly to the crumbling Notting Hill famously photographed by Roger Mayne. And it’s a snapshot gallery of English eccentrics, hence cameos from veterans Irene Handl and Eric Sykes and a role for Mandy Rice-Davies, a star player in the 1961 Profumo sex scandal.
The main narrative thread – the amours of photographer Eddie and party girl Crepe Suzette – remains frayed, not least because of the clunkiness of the ingenu leads, Eddie O’Connell and Patsy Kensit. He’s personable but wooden – and lumbered with a dire voice-over narration – while she’s largely reduced to oohing, in her dance sequences she carries off the ‘Brit Bardot’ routine with some aplomb. It’s the character parts that bring the energy, and give novelty casting a good name. DJ Alan Freeman parodies himself, Lionel Blair is silkily preposterous as a thinly-disguised version of Tin Pan Alley supremo Larry Parnes, and James Fox is elegantly unctuous as a Mayfair couturier.
Then there’s David Bowie, bizarrely playing it like one of Thunderbirds’ Tracy brothers as ad man Vendice Partners; having worked with Temple on the 20-minute “Jazzin’ For Blue Jean” video, he was clearly keen to be even more of a song-and-dance man. His turn on the splashy “Motivation” is musically out of the keeping with the rest – it’s by far the most conspicuously ‘80s number here – but his insouciant hoofing is something to behold (according to Temple, he learned to tap dance in two weeks flat).
Bowie isn’t the show stopper, though. That honour goes to Ray Davies, keeping his quizzical dignity through the typically vaudevillean number “Quiet Life” (shot on a doll’s house set that’s surely inspired by Jerry Lewis’s The Ladies Man). And Sade’s nightclub ballad shows all the regal command of a star who knew she had the 80s at her feet, and the 50s at her back.
Musically, the film punched above its weight by enlisting jazz maestro Gil Evans to oversee its soundtrack – and the bustling arrangement of Charles Mingus’s “Boogie Stop Shuffle”, set to a lengthy, vertiginous tracking shot through Soho by night, makes for one of the great opening sequences in British cinema. The evocation of bygone London – sometimes realistic, sometimes cartoonishly fanciful – is a triumph on the part of production designer John Beard and cinematographer Oliver Stapleton, who piles on clashing shades of neon with rapturous aplomb.
It’s when the film attempts to play it serious that it comes unstuck. The treatment of 1958’s racial clashes in Notting Hill comes across as callow, pitched awkwardly between British B-flick punchiness and a poor man’s West Side Story. For all the film’s political good intentions, there’s something painfully dated about the representation both of gender and race: all the women are birds, tarts or vamps, and apart from Miles-styled trumpeter Mr Cool (the late Tony Hippolyte), whose main function is to be, well, cool, there are no substantial non-white characters at all.
An informative, no-frills new documentary has Temple and collaborators (including the long-lost O’Connell) reminiscing about this singularly challenging venture. You learn a lot about the intricacies of British film production at the time, and the record is set straight about this supposed catastrophe: Absolute Beginners may have been reviled by the UK press, but it performed well at the box office. In the States, it was much admired by Martin Scorsese and, it transpires, Michael Jackson, who used to copy the dance moves with his younger sister, Janet.
Howe Gelb has announced details of his new album, Future Standards.
You can hear a new track from the album, “Terribly So” further down this page.
“This is my attempt at writing a batch of tunes that could last through the ages with the relative structure of what has become known as ‘standards’,” Gelb says. “The likes of Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael done up by Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday.”.
Future Standards by The Howe Gelb Piano Trio is released on November 25.
Here’s the tracklisting:
A Book You’ve Read Before
The Shiver Revisited
Mad Man At Large
May You Never Fall In Love
Mad Man At Home
Ahead of the release of Led Zeppelin‘s The Complete BBC Sessions, we’re delighted to preview a previously unreleased track from the set.
“What Is And What Should Never Be” was recorded live at the Paris Theatre, London on April 1 during Zeppelin’s performance.
The show was broadcast three days later as part of BBC’s In Concert program but this song, from the band’s second album, has never been included on any official Zeppelin release.
The Complete BBC Sessions is released by Atlantic/Swan Song on September 16.
It updates the band’s BBC Sessions two-disc set from 1997 and has been expanded with eight unreleased BBC recordings, including three rescued from a previously “lost” session from 1969.
The tracklisting for The Complete BBC Sessions CD is:
Disc One “You Shook Me”
“I Can’t Quit You Baby”
“Dazed And Confused”
“The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair”
“What Is And What Should Never Be”
“Travelling Riverside Blues”
“Whole Lotta Love”
“I Can’t Quit You Baby”
“You Shook Me”
“How Many More Times”
Disc Two “Immigrant Song”
“Since I’ve Been Loving You”
“Dazed And Confused”
“Stairway To Heaven”
“Going To California”
“That’s The Way”
“Whole Lotta Love” (Medley: Boogie Chillun/Fixin’ To Die/That’s Alright Mama/A Mess of Blues)
Disc Three “Communication Breakdown” *
“What Is And What Should Never Be” *
“Dazed And Confused” *
“What Is And What Should Never Be” *
“Communication Breakdown” *
“I Can’t Quit You Baby” *
“You Shook Me” *
“Sunshine Woman” *