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Hear The Who’s new single, “I Don’t Wanna Get Wise”

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The Who are poised to release their new album Who via Polydor on December 6.

Hear the latest single to be taken from it, “I Don’t Wanna Get Wise”, below:

The band have also today revealed details of the deluxe editions of the album, which includes two previously thought ‘lost’ tracks from the 1960s: “Got Nothing To Prove” (on the deluxe CD) and “Sand” (on the triple red, white and blue coloured vinyl edition).

Of these tracks, Pete Townshend says: “Both these songs are from the summer of 1966. They would not have been rejected by the band members but rather by my then creative mentor, Who manager Kit Lambert. In 1967, when the song seemed destined for the bottom drawer, I did offer “Got Nothing To Prove” to Jimmy James And The Vagabonds who used to support us at The Marquee in 1965. Jimmy liked the song, and suggested making it more R&B, in a slower tempo, but nothing happened. I have a feeling Kit may have felt the song sounded as though it was sung by an older and more self-satisfied man than I was in real life. That would have applied to Roger too I suppose. Now, it works. Back then, perhaps it didn’t. [Who co-producer] Dave Sardy and I decided to ask George Fenton to do a ‘Swinging Sixties’ band arrangement to make the song more interesting, but also to place it firmly in an Austin Powers fantasy. I love it.”

Of the track “Sand” (that will be released as a red vinyl 10” as part of the triple vinyl package), Townshend says: “This is a simple idea, about a sunny beach vacation romance that doesn’t last once the lovers get back home to the rain. Again, Kit passed on this, even as an album track, and it simply got filed away. I have always loved it, but have been waiting for computers to get smart enough to fix some of the tape stretch problems that had affected the demo. I also revived this in my home studio by doing roughly what I felt the Who would have done had this ever been recorded by them. So there is added backing vocals, Rickenbacker, and acoustic 12 string, and a feedback section to properly evoke the era.”

The deluxe CD of Who also features “This Gun Will Misfire” and “Danny And His Ponies” – two tracks recorded and sung by Townshend during the sessions for the album. You can pre-order the album here.

Hear U2’s new song with AR Rahman

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To mark U2’s first ever performance in India – The Joshua Tree Tour visits Mumbai on December 15 – the band have released a new collaboration with composer AR Rahman.

“Ahimsa” is titled after the Sanskrit word for non-violence. Hear it below:

“It has been an absolute joy to work with AR on this track,” says The Edge. “A superstar and a talent both towering and generous, we are especially excited to visit his homeland in just a few weeks. India has been on our bucket list for a very long time, the principles of ahimsa or non-violence have served as an important pillar of what our band stands for since we first came together to play music. We can’t wait to experience the culture of India first hand, a place that brings together the modern and the ancient all at once.”

AR Rahman adds: “Ahimsa requires courage and strength. A quality that is impervious to weapons or power. It’s a mission which is most needed to heal the modern world and it is incredible timing to collaborate with U2, with their amazing legacy, to revive this movement.”

This standalone single will be followed by the digital release of several remixes of songs from U2’s back catalogue by Indian artists.

Drive-By Truckers announce new album, The Unraveling

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Drive-By Truckers have announced that their 12th studio album The Unraveling will be released by ATO Records on January 31.

It was recorded at Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis by engineer Matt Ross-Spang and longtime DBT producer David Barbe.

Hear the first track from it, “Armageddon’s Back In Town”, below:

“The past three-and-a-half years were among the most tumultuous our country has ever seen,” says the band’s Patterson Hood, “and the duality between the generally positive state of affairs within our band while watching so many things we care about being decimated and destroyed all around us informed the writing of this album to the core… I’ve always said that all of our records are political but I’ve also said that ‘politics is personal’. With that in mind, this album is especially personal.”

Drive-By Truckers have also confirmed two UK shows in June, check out their full list of 2020 tourdates below:

JANUARY
16 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theater
17 – Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre
18 – Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre

FEBRUARY
13 – Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
14 – Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
15 – Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
18 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
19 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
21 – Webster Hall – New York, NY
22 – Boston, MA – Somerville Theatre
23 – Portland, ME – State Theatre
25 – New Haven, CT – College Street Music Hall
27 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
28 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
29 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club

MARCH
20 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
21 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
22 – Arcata, CA – Van Duzer Theatre
24 – Petaluma, CA – Mystic Theatre
26 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
27 – Los Angeles, CA – The Regent Theater
28 – Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren
31 – Albuquerque, NM – El Rey Theater

APRIL
2 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theater
3 – Austin, TX – Scoot Inn
4 – Austin, TX – Scoot Inn
16 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
17 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
18 – Charleston, NC – High Water Festival *
21 – Winston-Salem, NC – The Ramkat
23 – Lexington, KY – Manchester Music Hall
24 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
25 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
27 – Pensacola, FL – Vinyl Music Hall
28 – Orlando, FL – The Plaza Live
29 – Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – Ponte Vedra Concert Hall

MAY
1 – Birmingham, AL – Iron City
2 – Atlanta, GA – Shaky Knees *

JUNE
1 – Raalte, NL – Ribs and Blues
3 – Dublin, IE – Vicar Street
5 – Leeds, UK – Irish Centre
6 – London, UK – O2 Forum
7 – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso
8 – Antwerp, BE – De Roma

Baxter Dury announces new album, The Night Chancers

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Baxter Dury has announced that his new album The Night Chancers will be released by Heavenly on March 20.

The album was co-produced with longtime collaborator Craig Silvey, and was recorded at Hoxa studios in West Hampstead, London, in May 2019.

Watch a video for lead single “Slumlord” below:

The Night Chancers is about being caught out in your attempt at being free,” says Dury. “It’s about someone leaving a hotel room at three in the morning. You’re in a posh room with big Roman taps and all that, but after they go suddenly all you can hear is the taps dripping, and you can see the debris of the night is around you. Then suddenly a massive party erupts, in the room next door. This happened to me and all I could hear was the night chancer, the hotel ravers.”

Dury has also announced a European tour for the spring, dates below:

Apr 17 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Apr 18 Glasgow St Luke’s
Apr 19 Hebden Bridge Heavenly @ The trades Club
Apr 21 Cardiff Tramshed
Apr 22 London Kentish Town Forum
Apr 23 Birmingham Institute
Apr 24 Manchester Academy 2
Apr 25 Bristol SWX
Apr 26 Brighton Concorde 2

Apr 29 Paris Gaite Lyrique
Apr 30 Paris Gaite Lyrique
May 2 Brussels Les Nuits Botanique
May 3 Amsterdam Zonnehuis
May 4 Hamburg Mojo
May 5 Berlin Kesselhaus
May 6 Cologne Gebaude 9

Tame Impala unveiled as first All Points East headliner

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Tame Impala have been unveiled as the first major act for 2020’s All Points East festival, taking place at London’s Victoria Park in late May.

The Aussie psych-rockers headline on Saturday 23, supported by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Caribou, Whitney, Glass Animals, Holy Fuck and Kelly Lee Owens, with more to be announced.

This will be the only UK show of 2020 for Tame Impala, who are poised to release their new album The Slow Rush on February 14.

Tickets are priced £65 (£99.95 VIP) for the day, and go on sale at 10am on Friday (November 22) from here.

Jerry Donahue’s guitar auctioned to raise funds for his treatment

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American guitarist Jerry Donahue – renowned for being a member of Fotheringay and Fairport Convention, as well playing with Robert Plant, Elton John, The Beach Boys and many others – suffered a severe stroke in 2016 which left him unable to play guitar.

Today it was announced that an impressive array of rock A-listers have rallied to Donahue’s aid by signing one of his signature Telecasters that will be auctioned to raise funds for his treatment.

The guitar has been signed by Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, David Gilmour, Jeff Lynne, the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin, Brian Wilson, Tony Iommi, Mark Knopfler and Pete Townshend, among others. The guitar is expected to sell for in the region of £10,000–£20,000 when it is auctioned by Gardiner Houlgate of Corsham, Wiltshire on December 11.



Dave Pegg
, bass player with Fairport Convention and one of the leaders of the fundraising drive, said: “What’s brought these stars together to help is the respect they have for Jerry. They recognise he’s one of the greatest guitarists in the world with a unique style. The way in which Jerry could bend strings is totally different to English guitarists. No one else could do the multiple string bends, which is why guitar legends like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page admire him so much.

“Mentally, Jerry is all there; the problem is his muscles. He needs a lot of therapy but it’s very expensive and his medical insurance only covers so much. Our dream is to help him play guitar again.”

Luke Hobbs, auctioneer at Gardiner Houlgate in Wiltshire said: “We’ve seen autographed guitars before but nothing like this. It’s like a Who’s Who of the greatest musicians the UK has ever produced. We’ve never come across any other guitar signed by all three members of Led Zeppelin and all three of the guitarists who played with 1960s hit band The YardbirdsEric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Paul McCartney also usually abstains from autographing equipment.”

For more details, email auctions@gardinerhoulgate.co.uk

The Beach Boys to play Live At Chelsea 2020

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The Beach Boys have announced an outdoor show at London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea on June 13 as part of the Live At Chelsea Concert Series 2020.

The Beach Boys are currently led by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, along with Jeffrey Foskett, Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill, Keith Hubacher, Christian Love and Scott Totten.

Tickets are priced at £60, £50 and £45 (with VIP packages available). They go on sale from here at 10am on Friday (November 22).

Paul McCartney appears to confirm Glastonbury headline slot

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It’s long been rumoured that Paul McCartney will headline 2020’s 50th Anniversary Glastonbury festival.

As far back as April, Michael Eavis told BBC Somerset: “Paul’s on good form at the moment… [He’s coming here] hopefully for the 50th. Don’t make a big thing of it though, will you?”

Now McCartney himself seems to have confirmed the news with a cryptic tweet that combines pictures of Philip Glass, Emma Stone and Chuck Berry. Unless Macca is simply telling us what’s on his CD player at the moment, this would seem to spell out the word Glastonbury (Glass-Stone-Berry, geddit?).

More news on Paul McCartney and Glastonbury 50 as we have it…

Watch Bruce Springsteen play Thunder Road and more

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Bruce Springsteen played a surprise benefit show at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony on Saturday night (November 16).

He was backed for the two-hour set by Asbury Jukes guitarist Bobby Bandiera and his band, with Max Weinberg of the E Street Band joining on drums for several numbers.

Watch footage of Springsteen playing “Thunder Road” (acoustic), “10th Avenue Freeze-Out” and Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789” below:

 

REM – Monster: 25th Anniversary Edition

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Monster was cursed. On the first day of recording at Kingsway Studio in New Orleans – one of four studios REM booked for their ninth album – Mike Mills was hospitalised with an intestinal disorder. In short order all the other band members fell ill. Michael Stipe mourned the deaths of friends Kurt Cobain and River Phoenix. And during the world tour for the album, drummer Bill Berry suffered a brain aneurysm on stage. He left the band in 1997.

The album itself suffered a similarly ignominious fate, selling quadruple platinum but sold back to used CD stores around triple platinum. Even a quarter-century later, Monster remains divisive, with fans either decrying REM’s turn away from the more sombre sound of Automatic For The People or celebrating the record as a lost glam-rock masterpiece. This new 25th-anniversary edition probably won’t settle any old arguments, but its generous helping of demos and live cuts, along with an imaginative and appropriately irreverent remix of the album by producer Scott Litt, do argue for Monster as the most misunderstood album in the band’s catalogue.

Whenever Peter Buck described it as REM’s “rock” record, he made sure to include the air quotes around that descriptor. What did that even sound like in 1994? The quartet had created their biggest albums by ditching their respective instruments – electric guitar for Buck, bass for Mills, drums for Berry – and picking up new ones, and that move had altered their sound fundamentally. Monster found them settling back into their old roles and becoming a more traditional rock band again, but this wasn’t the Southern post-punk of their early albums. These new songs were grounded in the stomp and crackle of ’70s glam rock, with Buck pulling out every effects pedal he owned and Stipe addressing his own celebrity and sexuality.

Stipe approaches those subjects, which were to some extent new to REM, with gusto and a playful evasiveness. He teases a lot, feints at confession, but actually gives away very little. “Do you give good head?” he asks on “I Don’t Sleep I Dream”. “Am I good in bed?” It’s a song about inviting people into your personal world, and it’s unclear whether he’s addressing a potential lover or all those people wondering if he’s straight or gay. That question is never settled on Monster, mainly because it doesn’t seem settled to him. But at least he seems to have fun with it. On “Crush With Eyeliner”, you get the sense that he’s singing into a mirror, describing his reflection as the ultimate object of affection. “What position should I wear?” he asks no-one in particular. “How can I convince her that I’m invented, too?”

This anniversary reissue is less concerned about the album as it is and more curious about what how it might have sounded. A full disc of demos and doodles show the three instrumentalists working out riffs and jams, which Stipe would use as songwriting cues. While it becomes repetitive over the course of 15 songs, it does point towards the album Monster might have been – an album that sounded more like Green or the more upbeat songs on Document, an album that would have shown the band repeating themselves.

Arguably the most revealing aspect of this reissue is Scott Litt’s bold remix of Monster. He blames himself for the album’s lacklustre reception: “In all honesty it would bum me out how many times I saw Monster in the used record bin. The mixing had a lot to do with that.” On some songs he simply adjusts the placement of the vocals in the mix, bringing Stipe even closer to the foreground of “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” and “Let Me In”. But he takes massive liberties with “Crush With Eyeliner”, inserting a “la la la” count-off from Stipe, and turning his anti-consumerist slogan (“I’m not commodity!”) on “King Of Comedy” into something like a campfire singalong. In general the remix portrays REM as a more straightforward rock’n’roll band, which was the original point of Monster.

That makes the two live discs – which chronicle a June 1995 show in Chicago – sound especially weighty in this context, because they present these songs in the setting for which they were specifically created. “Let Me In” sounds all the more urgent in this setting, “Tongue” more playful, “I Took Your Name” even pricklier. Plus, the stage gives the band an opportunity to reinterpret older songs in this new, glammier context. Stipe sharply drawls his vocals on “Get Up”, turning each syllable into a dagger, and he puts that falsetto to good use on “Near Wild Heaven”, practically dancing around Mills’ lead. There’s a touch of melancholy to the performance, one that the band couldn’t have realised at the time but certainly colours the reissue: it shows a lineup at the height of their powers nearing the end of their time together.

Madness on their best albums: “We were full of ideas!”

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Originally published in Uncut’s Take 130 issue

______________

ONE STEP BEYOND
STIFF, 1979
Coinciding with the introduction of dancer-compere Chas Smash as full-time member, the band’s debut established their trademark Nutty sound, a mix of Motown, rock ‘n’ roll, Vaudeville and ska. The latter influence chimed with the emergent Two Tone sound.

SUGGS: We were very upfront in realising that the Two Tone thing was going off like a packet of crackers and we were in that mode stylistically. We certainly started to put more ska into our set and we’d been very lucky to meet Jerry [Dammers] and that whole thing happened. Earlier than God had intended, we were suddenly the thing. The great thing about that period is that we were still a gang, the road crew were all our pals, joining in on the backing vocals, and it was an ebullient time. Madness were leaders of the little bit of North London we lived in and we all had lead colourful lives, which fed into the songs. I was the idiot savant – well certainly an idiot. I was just happy to be there, they were all older than me and I just wanted to be in their gang or be cool. There’s a flame that burns for a few years for every band where it’s not mindless but it’s not intellectualised either. It’s just happening. If we did “One Step Beyond” today we’d be going, “What about the middle eight? Maybe we should have a key change…” Then you get into committee mode – before you know it you haven’t got the single-minded approach you had when you were young.

CHRIS FOREMAN: It was all the songs we were doing live, we didn’t write anything especially for the album. We’d done the single [“The Prince”] already so recording wasn’t a mystery to us, we knew that you go in and play the songs to the best of your ability. It was quite a breeze to do – the only album where we are all in the room together playing. We were full of the ideas – for the beginning of “In The Middle of The Night” you can hear Lee calling out like a paper seller, we went out on the street and recorded him doing that in the traffic. The Specials were doing their album around the same time. I remember listening to tapes of what they were doing, checking out the competition but not in a sneaky way. We never set it up like: “I’ll write with him and they’ll work together,” and at first Mike Barson [keyboards] was the main writer – he could write by himself. “My Girl” was a genius song, and if someone gave him lyrics he could think of a tune. [Producer] Clive Langer suggested strings on “Night Boat To Cairo” and I thought it was the ponciest idea I’d ever heard, but it turned out really good. Maybe we should have had strings on some of the other tracks too. Lee [Thompson, sax] had been in reform school – that was what “Land Of Hope And Glory” was about. He used to come home at weekends, he’d get out on Fridays and we’d spend the weekend with him and see he got back on the train ok. “Bed And Breakfast Man” was about Jon Hasler, he’d been our manager and was very important to putting the band together. He’d turn up at your house, next thing you knew he was there for breakfast, eating the kids’ leftovers.

______________________

ABSOLUTELY
STIFF, 1980
For their sophomore release, the band expanded their musical range beyond ska to include, amazingly, Genesis and Pink Floyd!

SUGGS: We’d spent five years carving our own little niche, Two Tone came and it was great but we didn’t want to latch onto something, find the bandwagon off the rails and labelled as just another ska band. “Baggy Trousers” was sort of an answer to Pink Floyd, even at that age I thought the line “teacher leave the kids alone” was a bit strange, sinister – though I think Floyd are a great band. It sounded self indulgent to be going on about how terrible school days had been; there was an inverted snobbery about it too. ‘You went to a posh public school? You wanna try going to my school.’ Absolutely was more of a reflection of where we were at than One Step Beyond – all the influences that were piled up in our head let out more succinctly. We were very conscious of not making a carbon copy of the debut. Like The Specials, we were always aware we needed to move on with each album.

FOREMAN: Despite the Nutty image we worked really hard, took it really seriously, there was a blackboard with all the songs up in the rehearsal room. We had so many influences that get overlooked – like Pink Floyd and Genesis. One night Lee and I had bunked into see Genesis at Drury lane, at a point in the set there was an explosion and Peter Gabriel went flying through the air that’s why Lee went flying in the “Baggy Trousers” video – he always vowed when he got the chance he’d do the same thing.

Nick Cave And 
The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen review

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It’s tempting, when a record unfolds like a sermon, to concentrate on the words. And it’s true: on Ghosteen, Nick Cave has surpassed himself, redefining the shape and purpose of his writing. By conventional standards, these aren’t songs at all. They’re ruminations, fairy stories, misremembered dreams, visions. They scarcely bother with the formalities. There are few choruses, just occasional repetitions of phrases or lines: “I think they’re singing to be free,” or “It’s a long way to find peace of mind.”

What is it about? Faith mostly, death often, and the moving walkways that transport people between those unmappable destinations. Cave has more questions than answers, but he frames them in such a way that the indeterminate nature of things becomes the point, and even a cause of comfort. Beyond that, he’s celebrating the purpose of songs themselves, as in the opening track, “Spinning Song”, a swirling, wheezy thing that squeezes a jelly-haired Elvis into a strange parable owing as much to Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree as it does to the Old Testament.

It’s possible, of course, 
that the song is even more 
self-involved than that, because it is a song about 
a song. Let’s play along, and imagine that the root of this mystery is Cave’s “Tupelo”, that ferocious anthem in which the birth of the King became an elemental act of Creation. “Tupelo” has the manners of a Cave from a different church, the black rain, the sandman, the eggless hen, the crowless cock. But listen to him now, on “Spinning Song”. “Once there was a song,” he murmurs, “the song yearned to be sung.” And by the end of the recitation, after this black-jelly Elvis King has crashed into Vegas and broken the heart of his queen “like a vow”, and a feather has spun up into the sky, Cave is addressing the listener directly. “And you’re sitting at the kitchen table, listening to the radio…” It would, of course, take a bold radio station to play this extraordinary tune: “Spinning Song” is not designed for heavy rotation. But wait, hold that computerised playlist, the singer is delivering the goods, right at the end: “And I love you,” he is singing. “Peace 
will come.”

Those are the words, but as always, the Bad Seeds have evolved musically. On Push The Sky Away and Skeleton Tree, they adapted to Cave’s monochromatic demeanour, colourising the backgrounds with more subtlety, less violence. Skeleton Tree 
in particular was 
unvarnished, medium rare, and Ghosteen continues in that vein. It is raw, but also synthetic. There are a number of very long songs, verbal rambles, but the music fills in, disturbing the melancholy of Cave’s piano with static interruptions that owe 
as much to Cave and Warren Ellis’s film soundtracks as they do to the Bad Seeds’ more conventional songcraft. On the title track, a 12-minute epic that references The Moony Man (a Japanese folk tale adapted for manga with added rocketships) there are echoes of Bowie’s Low, but also 
of the way Bill Fay channels nagging introspection into songs that have the yearning, the humility and the persuasive power of hymns.

All the Bad Seeds are credited, but it’s hard to get beyond the keyboards. Both Cave and Ellis are credited on synthesiser, and both do backing vocals. Ellis adds loops, flute and violin. None of which prepares you for the sound that they make. Those synths sound retro rather than futuristic, and the clips of reversed vocals give the whole thing the aura of a transmission from a distressed planet. If it were a book it would be Michel Faber’s The Book Of Strange New Things. But as these disturbances are cinematic, it’s hard to escape the orbit of David Lynch.

Of course, there is no pastiche-ing here, no ironic Orbison. The Bad Seeds do not play no rock’n’roll. Cave’s atmospheres are too airless for that. But there are jarring moments, neon-candy lightning flashes in the black ambience. Take the moment on “Ghosteen” where Cave sings “dancing, dancing all around” and the song suddenly swirls and reboots itself. “Here we go,” Cave says quietly, and the tune turns a page, and out of the turbulence comes a verse about the fairytale Three Bears (Goldilocks is notable by her absence). Why the Three Bears? Because fairytales are nasty and brutal, tutoring caution even as they comfort and entertain. And because Ghosteen has at its centre a dead child, a spirit or a little ghost, who sometimes narrates. In this context, the childish presence is wise, and is trying to soothe the pain of those who are left behind, so the imagery is inverted. Childishness becomes an invitation to wonder and to hope, and to live without concern for shortening horizons. “And baby bear,” Cave sings, prompting thoughts of Iggle Piggle’s journey at the conclusion of every episode of In The Night Garden, “he’s gone to the moon in a boat.”

Cave’s life has been marked by personal tragedy, and his recent work – his embrace of the essential decency of the crowd in his live shows, his emergence as an agony uncle to confused souls on his Red Hand Files Q&As – is usually viewed in that light. Nothing changes that, and there’s no escaping the profound darkness that envelops Ghosteen. You could hang autobiographical intent on the beautiful “Waiting For You”, which drapes a sense of loss and anticipation over a song that is as painful as it is literally dreadful. The singer drives through the night to a beach, waiting for someone to return. By the end, the exhausted narrator is encountering a Jesus freak on the streets, saying, “He is returning.” Cave concludes: “Well, sometimes a little bit of faith can go a long way.” And what of “Sun Forest”, a gorgeous, melancholy thing, apparently about a child’s ascension to heaven, punctuated by images of crucifixion, burning horses, black butterflies, beautiful green eyes, and the child beaming back a message of hope: “I am here beside you, look for me in the sun”?

“Ghosteen Speaks” is no less haunted, no less haunting. The narrator, at the end, is a spirit trying to make sense of their own funeral. “I am beside you,” they sing, “look for me,” before wondering about the purpose of the ceremony. Why are these people gathered together? “I think they’re singing to be free… to be beside me.”

You could make all of this about the singer’s misfortunes. But that would be reductive, and a shame, because Cave’s journey on Ghosteen – by boat, by ominous train, by car or heavenly staircase – is a grand tour in search of common ground. He is looking for the universal, with or without Jesus. His version of faith includes the bald observation in “Fireflies” that we are no more than “photons released from a star”.

It is, perhaps, a tough sort of faith that concludes that “there is no order here and nothing can be planned”. But the beauty of Ghosteen is the way it inhabits the darkness and still manages to harvest optimism. It is extreme stuff, singular in its design, ruthless in its execution. At the end, in “Leviathan”, Cave comes close to delivering a chorus, albeit in a song that flickers like a hallucinatory dream. There is a kid with a bad face at the window, a wild cougar killing by day, a house in the hills with a tear-shaped pool. “Everybody’s losing somebody,” Cave sings. “It’s a long way to find peace of mind.”

Watch Tony Visconti discuss his new mix of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”

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Today (November 15) sees the release of Tony Visconti’s new mix of David Bowie’s 1969 album Space Oddity, both as a standalone reissue and as part of the Conversation Piece box set.

You can watch Visconti talking about how he approached the new mix of “Space Oddity” in the video below.

Visconti also reveals that he’s mixed the track in a new immersive, “omni-directional” audio format called 360 Reality Audio. “It’s a new way of hearing the song,” he promises. “You might have heard ‘Space Oddity’ 200 times, when you hear this I guarantee you will listen another 200 times.”

The 360 Reality Audio mix of ‘Space Oddity’ will be available soon via Amazon HD using Amazon Echo Studio, and via Deezer and Tidal using headphones. Read more about 360 Reality Audio here.

Of course, Tony Visconti talks at much greater length about Bowie’s early years in the new issue of Uncut, which also contains a free David Bowie fanzine! Read all about it, along with details on how to order the magazine online, by clicking here.

Uncut’s Essential Review Of 2019 is in shops now!

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The new issue of Uncut – in UK shops today and available to buy online by clicking here – contains our staggeringly comprehensive Review Of 2019: your guide to the Best New Albums, Reissues, Films and Books Of The Year.

Our free CD showcases 15 tracks from the year’s best music – including Nick Cave, Bon Iver, Joan Shelley, Fontaines DC, Aldous Harding, Richard Dawson, Purple Mountains, Weyes Blood and Bill Callahan.

It’s been a particularly good year for The Specials, who’ve enjoyed a No 1 album, a massive world tour and the declaration of The Specials Day in Los Angeles. Singer Terry Hall has also celebrated the collection of his free bus pass. “I’ve wanted to be 60 since I was in my twenties,” Hall tells us. “I’ve always thought I’d make my best music in the years between 60 and 70.”

Also entering a late-career purple patch is Van Morrison, who recently released his fifth album in little over two years. “I think I started to enjoy it again,” he reveals in an unusually forthcoming chat. “It feels like there is momentum at this time.”

We catch up with one of 2019’s rising stars, Natalie Mering AKA Weyes Blood, who discusses the inspirations behind her brilliant album Titanic Rising: “It was fun to think about classic styles to talk about modern issues. We made some funny comparisons – Bob Seger meets Enya!”

Meanwhile, one-time Smog loner Bill Callahan looks back on a watershed year in which he’s revealed more of himself and played to more people than ever before: “An unusual thing about my trajectory is that the audience has gotten slightly bigger from the start, in very small increments. For me, that’s a pretty cool thing. I definitely don’t take it for granted.”

Plus Stereolab relive the highs of “Jenny Ondioline”, Rhiannon Giddens takes us through her career leading up to this year’s terrific There Is No Other with Francesco Turrisi; we mourn the passing but celebrate the legacy of wayward indie bard David Berman; plus of course we count down the 75 best albums of the year, the 30 best reissues, the 20 best films and the 10 best books.

And, lest we forget, David Bowie’s momentous 1969 is celebrated in our extensive cover story and also a double-sized fanzine – our Bowie Bulletin – that brings together some classic Bowie interviews from his stellar breakthrough year.

It’s all in the new issue of Uncut, in UK shops today with David Bowie on the cover.

Exclusive! Watch one of Ginger Baker’s final studio sessions

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The final project Ginger Baker played on before he passed away last month was an album and DVD of Cream reworkings going under the working title of Cream Acoustic.

The project was put together by record label QVR with the help of Cream lyricist Pete Brown. As well as Baker and Brown, it features Jack Bruce’s son Malcolm alongside an all-star cast which includes Bobby Rush, Joe Bonamassa, Maggie Bell, Bernie Marsden, Clem Clempson and Pee Wee Ellis.

Below, you can see Ginger Baker playing on a new version of Cream’s 1966’s song “Sweet Wine”, alongside Nathan James, Bernie Marsden, Mo Nazam, Malcolm Bruce, Abass Dodoo, Pee Wee Ellis and Henry Lowther.

Cream Acoustic is due out early in 2020 on QVR. You can read an obituary of Ginger Baker, with a contribution from Pete Brown, in the new issue of Uncut – details here.

Joy Division / New Order – Ultimate Music Guide

Commemorating 40 years since Unknown Pleasures, the latest in our Ultimate Music Guide series covers both Joy Division and New Order. Drummer Stephen Morris introduces an issue blending insightful new reviews with entertaining archive features, as the accidental pop pioneers venture from Manchester to Ibiza and beyond…

Buy a copy online here.

Bill Fay announces new album, Countless Branches

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50 years after his debut release on Deram, Bill Fay has announced that his new album Countless Branches will be released on January 17 via Dead Oceans.

Watch a video for the first single “Filled With Wonder Once Again” below:

The album features most of the musicians who played on Life Is People (2012) and Who Is The Sender? (2015), including guitarist / musical director Matt Deighton, but there is more of Bill on his own at the piano, or with minimal accompaniment.

Peruse the tracklisting below:

1. In Human Hands
2. How Long, How Long
3. Your Little Face
4. Salt Of The Earth
5. I Will Remain Here
6. Filled With Wonder Once Again
7. Time’s Going Somewhere
8. Love Will Remain
9. Countless Branches
10. One Life
Deluxe LP Bonus Tracks
11. Tiny
12. Don’t Let My Marigolds Die (Live In Studio)
13. The Rooster
14. Your Little Face (Acoustic Version)
15. Filled With Wonder Once Again (Band Version)
16. How Long, How Long (Band Version)
17. Love Will Remain (Band Version)

Hear Beck perform a medley of Prince songs

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Beck and his band were recently invited to Paisley Park studios to record an EP for Amazon Music.

They took the opportunity to perform a medley of Prince songs – “Raspberry Beret,” “When Doves Cry,” “Kiss,” and “1999” – along with new versions of two of Beck’s own songs, “Where It’s At” and “Up All Night”.

Hear the Paisley Park Sessions EP here and watch a making of video below:

Beck’s new album Hyperspace is out on November 22. You can read a review in the new issue of Uncut, out later this week – find out more about the new issue, including details of how to buy, by clicking here!

Uncut – January 2020

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David Bowie, Van Morrison, The Specials, Rhiannon Giddens and our Review Of 2019 all feature in the new Uncut, dated January 2020 and available to buy from November 14. International readers, scroll below to find out where you can pick up a copy.

DAVID BOWIE: As the Conversation Piece box is released, Tony Visconti relives the highs and lows of Bowie’s breakthrough in 1968 and 1969. There are ham sandwiches, Marc Bolan impressions, the peerless ‘Space Oddity’ and tearful studio interludes – but crucially, we learn how this period of his music influenced Bowie’s future endeavours.

BEST OF 2019 CD: 15 tracks of the year’s greatest music, from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Weyes Blood, Big Thief, Richard Dawson, Joan Shelley, Fontaines DC, Purple Mountains, Bon Iver, Bill Callahan, Aldous Harding and more.

Plus! Inside the issue, you’ll find:

REVIEW OF 2019: We count down the 75 best albums of the year, the 30 best reissues and the finest books and films of 2019.

THE SPECIALS: Uncut meets the group at the end of a landmark year, with a No 1 album, a huge world tour and some momentous birthdays to discuss.

VAN MORRISON: The man himself on R&B, transcendence and mythical bootlegs – “I didn’t know what I was doing for quite a while…”

BILL CALLAHAN: At the end of his most stressful year yet, the former Smog songsmith answers your questions on Scorsese films, children’s choirs and whether he’d prefer to be a horse or a bird.

RHIANNON GIDDENS: The singer and songwriter takes us through her finest work to date, from the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Our Native Daughters to her excellent solo records.

STEREOLAB: Laetitia Sadier, Tim Gane, Sean O’Hagan and manager Martin Pike explain how they made “Jenny Ondioline”.

LEONARD COHEN: We review his new posthumous album, Thanks For The Dance, while engineer and musician Michael Chaves sheds light on the recording and Cohen’s working practices.

JULIA JACKLIN: From Fiona Apple to Grimes, the songwriter reveals the music that has shaped her.

In our expansive reviews section, we take a look at new records from Beck, Toy, Craven Faults, The Comet Is Coming, Idles, Molly Burch, Omar Souleyman, Alison Moorer, Bruce Springsteen and more, and archival releases from Jimi Hendrix, Robert Plant, The Go-Betweens, The Chemical Brothers, The Raincoats, Pulp, Paul Kelly, Royal Trux, Rod Stewart, Mick Ronson and others. We catch Sunn O))) and The Murder Capital live, and also review The Irishman, Marriage Story, Somebody Up There Likes Me, and books from Elton John and Pete Townshend.

International readers can pick up a copy at the following stores:

The Netherlands: Bruna and AKO (Schiphol)

Sweden: Pressbyrån

Norway: Narvesen

U.S.A. (out in November): Barnes & Noble

Canada (out December): Indigo

Australia (out December): Independent newsagents

And also online at:

Denmark: IPresso Shop

Germany: Blad Portal

David Bowie and The Review Of 2019 in the new Uncut

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At the end of a momentous and perplexing year, it is comforting to keep a few certainties close at hand. The return of old favourites, for instance, over the course of the last 12 months like Wilco, Lambchop, Bill Callahan and Bon Iver has provided a degree of reassurance during tumultuous times. It’s also heartening to see the variety and quality of music made by emerging artists in our world. You’ll find many of these faces – familiar as well as fresh ones, of course – in our Top 75 new albums list. I’m not going to divulge much about the chart here – or the results of our other polls for best archive releases and best films. I can tell you, though, that 41 contributors voted this year, for 379 different new releases and 175 reissues. If there’s one outstanding fact about our 2019 chart of new releases, it’s that half of the Top 30 albums were made by women. You’ll find out more in our all-singing, all-dancing Review Of The Year – brought to you in association with Norman Records – that occupies the bulk of this month’s issue of Uncut. There are also interviews with some of the artists who’ve figured highly in our world during the last year – Weyes Blood, The Specials, Van Morrison, Stereolab, Bill Callahan, Rhiannon Giddens and Julia Jacklin.

Elsewhere, UK readers will note that this issue comes in a fancy bag. It is intended to keep safe our snazzy Bowie Bulletin – a bespoke fanzine documenting David Bowie’s momentous 1969, bringing together archival pieces from the pages of Melody Maker, NME, Disc And Music Echo and the lesser-spotted Fab 208. It has been lovingly designed by our Art Editor Marc Jones and includes a stunning poster on one side. It accompanies our cover feature, in which Tony Visconti tells the full story of Bowie’s stellar breakthrough year. I’m pleased to report that Visconti’s memory is astonishingly clear – even down to the type of sandwiches he and Bowie enjoyed for lunch during sessions for the Space Oddity album.

There’s also Richard Williams’ definitive review of Leonard Cohen’s posthumous album Thanks For The Dance, a catch-up with Robert Plant, a farewell to Ginger Baker by Pete Brown and some candid, unseen shots capturing the Stones during their earliest studio sessions.

Oh, and our free CD rounds up 15 of the year’s best tracks and features Nick Cave, Bon Iver, Cate Le Bon, Big Thief, Joan Shelley, Purple Mountains, Sampa The Great, Bill Callahan, Weyes Blood, Fontaines DC, Aldous Harding, Julia Jacklin, Modern Nature, Richard Dawson and Rhiannon Giddens.

Let us know your thoughts once you’ve had a look at the issue. I’m especially keen to hear about your own albums of the year, so drop us a line at letters@uncut.co.uk.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner