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Bill Evans – Evans In England

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On December 1, 1969, the Bill Evans Trio began a month-long season at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. They followed Thelonious Monk, who had been in residence for three weeks with his quartet. That’s how it was in the days when jazz clubs with a capacity of a couple of hundred could host world-famous artists for several weeks at time.

It was a system that allowed groups to take advantage of stable working conditions, developing their music together without the worries involved in packing up and moving on to a new venue every day. The same piano, the same acoustics, even the same hotel and the same food for an extended period: a lot of musicians will tell you that they wish such arrangements were on offer today. After all, jazz might have sounded very different without Evans’ run at the Village Vanguard in 1961, when he, Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian took the opportunity to redesign the internal mechanism of the basic piano trio.

LaFaro was dead and Motian had moved on by the time Evans arrived in the last month of the decade at a Soho club where he always felt comfortable. His position in the jazz firmament was well established, after a rise that began in 1959 when Miles Davis hired him to set the mood for Kind Of Blue. His ability to infuse the techniques of modern jazz piano – specifically the drive of the young Horace Silver and the adventurousness of Lennie Tristano – with the harmonic voicings of Chopin and Debussy could be said to have introduced jazz to impressionism.

Now he was accompanied by Eddie Gomez on double bass and Marty Morell on drums; neither would become game-changers in the manner of their predecessors, but they were certainly up to the job. Meanwhile their leader was in the throes of a long-term heroin addiction that shocked some of his associates but never got in the way of his music. Like other jazz musicians of his generation, he was allowing his hair to grow, but his style remained essentially conservative in sound and appearance.

By 1969, as these newly discovered tapes show, his approach had solidified: the trio’s repertoire consisted of a number of carefully arranged standards, from which he extracted the last drop of lyricism while draining away any hint of sentimentality, plus a handful of his own compositions, a few of which sounded like standards as soon as he wrote them, and a sprinkling of originals from other jazz composers. The blues was seldom a part of the trio’s programme, at least in its explicit form.

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Melody Maker had sent one of its older writers, Laurie Henshaw, to review the opening night, and he had not found it much to his taste. “More sensate than emotive,” was how he described Evans’ approach. “He bends intently over the keyboard pulling close clusters of chords, weaving complex harmonic patterns than can surely be most totally appreciated by the musically literate.”

Even then it was hard to agree, and of course it would be impossible now: there is nothing forbidding about a single bar of the music heard in this recording. (But then the same writer’s review of Monk three weeks earlier – “His relentless unpredictable hammering reminds one of a schizophrenic piano teacher on some strange jazz trip” – prompted one of his MM colleagues to remark that he had just set jazz criticism back 50 years.)

Henshaw also noted that, on the night he attended, one table of punters had to be shushed by their neighbours at regular intervals. That was not unusual at Scott’s, which had become a destination for expense-account businessmen who had no intention of letting the music get in the way of their banter. Such interruptions are entirely absent here, although a police siren can just be heard behind the exposed intro to “Re: Person I Knew”.

The tapes, apparently dating from the last week of the season, were made by a fan with a seat at a front table, using a high-quality portable machine and single microphone, without the knowledge of the musicians or the club; eventually they found their way into the collection of a friend of Evans, who decided, almost 40 years after the pianist’s death, that they should be heard. The sound quality of the instruments is bright and clean, and the balance is better than one would expect from a club recording of the time. It’s rather poignant to hear Scott himself coming on the microphone at the end of a short but exquisite reading of “Goodbye”, the Gordon Jenkins ballad, to encourage applause for the musicians.

By this time Evans’ music had lost the freshness of the original trio; despite their youthful enthusiasm and technical brilliance, Gomez and Morell were providing a certain type of blueprinted accompaniment rather than engaging in a fully participatory creative conversation. But when you hear the pianist uncoil the short preface to “Stella By Starlight”, set the scene for “So What” with a spray of upper-register notes like drops of ice-water, reconfigure a snatch of the melody to lead into “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life”, or spin the most refined blues phrases over “Our Love Is Here To Stay”, reservations tend to evaporate.

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Shellac announce new Peel Sessions album

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Shellac have announced details of a new double album featuring two previously unreleased sessions for John Peel.

Titled The End Of Radio, Pitchfork reports that the album is released on June 14 via Touch & Go. The sessions were recorded at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios in 1994 and 2004.

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The tracklisting for The End Of Radio is:

Spoke
Canada
Crow
Disgrace
Ghosts
The End of Radio
Canada
Paco
Steady As She Goes
Billiard Player Song
Dog And Pony Show
Il Porno Star

Shellac’s last album, Dude Incredible, was released in 2014. Last year, Steve Albini won $105,629 and a gold bracelet at the 2018 World Series Of Poker in Las Vegas, after seeing off 310 other players at Seven Card Stud.

“I am ecstatic that a player as mediocre as me can outlast all of these better players and end up with a bracelet,” said Albini. “There’s still hope for everybody!”

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Police log books from The Beatles’ first American visit go on display

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Police log books for officers who protected The Beatles on their first visit to America have been unveiled.

The records list the names of the officers who guarded the band in New York as they prepared to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964 and their show at Carnegie Hall.

At the latter, the logs state that there was an incident where an officer was “knocked off balance” and injured outside the Plaza Hotel while “attempting to restrain the surging crowd”.

NYPD officer Patrick Cassidy, who discovered the logs while searching in police records, told the BBC: “The Ed Sullivan Theatre is in the confines of my precinct, so one day in 2013, I went into the storage area that holds these books.

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“After 50 years, they clean out and destroy them, so I looked up February ’64 and found the book, which would have been destroyed the following year.”

The Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which marked their US TV debut, was watched by a then record 73 million people at the time.

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Joanna Newsom extends String/Keys Incident tour

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Joanna Newsom has added more dates to her String/Keys Incident tour.

The tour will feature “rare and intimate performances by Joanna alone: solo voice, harp and piano.” The tour, which begins in Philadelphia in September, runs through until October, where it ends in Milwaukee. As yet, she has not announced any European dates.

It will be the first time Newsom has toured in three years, suggesting that a follow-up to 2015’s Divers album is imminent.

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Pitchfork reports that the new dates are additional shows in each of the cities she’s visiting.

September
6 Philadelphia Kimmel Center
7 Philadelphia Kimmel Center
9 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
10 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
11 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
12 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
13 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
14 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
15 New York El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio

October
7 Chicago Thalia Hall
8 Chicago Thalia Hall
9 Chicago Thalia Hall
10 Chicago Thalia Hall
12 Milwaukee Irish Cultural and Heritage Center
13 Milwaukee Irish Cultural and Heritage Center

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Uncut – June 2019

Pink Floyd, Scott Walker, The National and Bob Dylan all feature in the new issue of Uncut, in shops from April 18 and available to buy from our online store.

The Floyd are on the cover, and inside, Nick Mason and others tell the full story of the group’s extraordinary transitional years, from the departure of Syd Barrett right up to the stellar Meddle.

Along the way there are German hippies, an inflatable octopus, “emotional chaos” and a band firing at their experimental creative peak. “We just thought, ‘What can we do next?'” says Mason. “‘Oh, that might be interesting…'”

Uncut heads to upstate New York to meet The National and hear all about their new album, I Am Easy To Find. “Five guys talking about their problems?” says singer Matt Berninger. “I got tired of that long ago.”

The issue also includes an exclusive free CD curated by The National, featuring 15 excellent tracks from their closest collaborators and favourite musicians.

We pay tribute to Scott Walker, the reluctant pop star who became a singular, uncompromising visionary, and those who worked with him remember the man and the artist: “There are hard lessons for any artist to learn from the way he worked and lived his life. It was total commitment.”

Forty-seven years late, Aretha Franklin‘s stunning Amazing Grace film finally hits cinema screens, and we talk to those involved to discover just how it was created.

Primal Scream, meanwhile, recall the recording of their “Dixie-Narco” EP in Memphis, and discuss raccoon attacks, free tattoos and exactly which member caused a scandal at Graceland…

Elsewhere in the issue, Peter Perrett answers your questions in our An Audience With piece, while Dylan Carlson of Earth reveals eight of his favourite records.

Uncut also investigates Bob Dylan‘s Rolling Thunder Revue, unearthing tall tales from the insiders on doppelgangers, Beat poets and mystery shamens.

Cate Le Bon takes us through her stunning work album by album, while we look at the mysteries and contradictions of JJ Cale, the songwriter who inspired so many yet shunned the spotlight.

Our Instant Karma front section includes The Seeds, Maxine Peake as Nico, and Dinosaur Jr‘s Camp Fuzz rock school, and introduces Sunwatchers.

In our expansive reviews section, we take a look at new albums from Mac DeMarco, Mavis Staples, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, Morrissey and Vampire Weekend, and archival releases from Popol Vuh, Judy Collins, Venom, Pete Seeger and Johann Johannsson; we catch live gigs from Roy Harper and Africa Express, and TV, films and DVDs including Dragged Across Concrete and Vox Lux.

The new Uncut is out on April 18.

Inside the new Uncut: Pink Floyd, Scott Walker, Bob Dylan and our free 15-track CD curated by The National!

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The new Uncut is in shops – and you can buy a copy online now by clicking here.

If I was looking for a thread that somehow connected all the artists featured in this new issue, it would be the quest for transformation. For Scott Walker – whose life is celebrated at length by Graeme Thomson – it was a career-long quest to evolve and challenge himself and his audience as he followed his path away from the mainstream and flourished entirely on his own terms. For our cover stars, it is the fertile transitional period when The Pink Floyd became Pink Floyd. Tom Pinnock discovers a band reconfiguring themselves and their creative aesthetic following the departure of Syd Barrett – via a run of bold, experimental records that are, I think, among their best.

For The National, meanwhile, it is the manner in which they conduct themselves, as they continue to move from celebrated cult favourites to serious mainstream contenders. And then there is Bob Dylan – that guy again! – for whom, you could argue, his entire career has been one long act of perpetual transmogrification. Here, Peter Watts speaks to many of the key musicians who joined the Rolling Thunder Revue – another typical career-swerve for Dylan, who in the wake of Blood On The Tracks was at a point where he could pack out arenas but chose, instead, a more spirited and picaresque option.

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Then there is JJ Cale, a man who in many ways resisted transformation – he liked what he did and he did what he liked – but nonetheless his quietly radical way of going about his business proved to be transformative to others – not least the likes of Eric Clapton, as Graeme Thomson learns.

By now, you’ll have hopefully noticed that this month’s CD has been curated exclusively for us by The National. The National have long been at the centre of a unique musical nexus, and our 15-track ‘friends and family’ CD explicitly reinforces those far-reaching creative relationships. You can hear music from Bon Iver, Sharon Van Etten, This Is The Kit, Deerhunter, Lisa Hannigan, Thomas Bartlett & Nico Mulhy, Big Thief, Cat Power, The Breeders among many others.

There’s a ton more in the issue, of course – Primal Scream, Cate Le Bon, Mac DeMarco, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Dinosaur Jr… As ever, we hope you’ll find plenty that’s to your liking.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

Hear new Beck single, “Saw Lightning”

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Beck has released a new single, “Saw Lighting“.

The track – taken from his forthcoming album, Hyperspace – is written and produced by Beck and Pharrell Williams. An accompanying video, directed by Grammy Award-winning filmmaker Hiro Murai, is part of a Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats Pro campaign.

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The credits for the song are:

Drums, Keyboards and Mumbles performed by Pharrell Williams
Vocals, Slide Guitar, Piano and Harmonica performed by Beck Hansen

Beck has already had a busy start to the year, releasing “Tarantula” from Music Inspired by Roma, “Super Cool” (featuring Robyn & The Lonely Island) from The LEGO Movie 2, and most recently his appearance on Cage The Elephant’s “Night Running“.

Hyperspace will be Beck’s 14th album, following 2017’s Colors.

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

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‘‘Show me where it hurts,” Natalie Mering whispers at the end of “A Lot’s Gonna Change”, the opening track on Weyes Blood’s gigantic fourth LP. An extraordinary exercise in baroque postmodernism, Titanic Rising repurposes familiar elements – the ’70s radio pop of Wings and Abba, the Brit art rock of Fripp and Eno, the well-thumbed pages of the American Songbook – to tell a thoroughly modern story of what happens when everything you grew up believing in goes bad. Needless to say, it hurts all over.

The front cover of her first release for Sub Pop captures the 30-year-old in a drowned approximation of a childhood bedroom, a welcoming, comforting space where something has clearly gone terribly, terribly wrong. Macro disguised as micro, on the surface Titanic Rising is a record about romantic disappointment, the struggle to find a true connection; sink further, and it’s also a meditation on damaged reality, poisoned dreams and finding hope. The Judee Sill of the Netflix age, Mering sums up her quest on the transcendental “Something To Believe”, catching the peak of a Demis Roussos-sized crescendo with a plea to discover “something bigger and louder than the voices in me”. Spoiler alert: she almost does.

Mering’s path to these lush musical uplands has been an unusual one. Born in California, she was raised in Pennsylvania in a born-again Christian family, with an unusual past. Her father, Sumner, made a slightly racy rock LP for Elektra in 1980 before moving away from the dark side (her mother, Pamela, and older brother Zak – aka Raw Thrills – are both recording artists too). As Mering grew up, she lost her faith, filling the gap left by God – and crappy mid-2000s pop – with freak folk and extreme noise as she immersed herself in Philadelphia’s underground scene. She was playing vaguely acoustic music as Weyes Bluhd (name bowdlerised from Flannery O’Connor’s 1952 novel) when she was still a teenager, as well as dabbling with power electronics. In an age where running away to join the circus was no longer an option, it was an impressive statement of independence.

She later linked up with Portland noise-hounds Jackie-O Motherfucker, and ended up putting out CD-Rs of her own experimental songs, which eventually morphed into a low-budget debut LP in 2011 and – after a spell working with lo-fi superstar Ariel Pink – a series of increasingly sophisticated, imploded folk records for Mexican Summer. Her most recent, 2016’s Front Row Seat To Earth, was terrific. Titanic Rising, though, is something else; tightly structured, lavishly orchestrated, brilliantly realised.

It begins back in that bedroom. Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” live from Davy Jones’ locker, “A Lot’s Gonna Change” finds Mering longing to “go back to a time when I was just a girl, when I had the world gently wrapped around me, and no good thing could be taken away”. What follows is a gentle, sad message to her younger self, simultaneously encouraging her to aim high and warning her that the years ahead might just be a bit of a disappointment. “You’ll learn to get by”, she purrs; not exactly a ringing endorsement of tomorrow’s world.

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Generation Y, though, have had it worse than most, childhoods moulded by CGI, Photoshop and Auto-Tune preparing them woefully for an adult life of insecure employment, Brexit, dick pics, Donald Trump and global warming. On “Andromeda” – its backing track seemingly derived from a chewed-up cassingle of Coolio’s 1995 hit “Gangster’s Paradise” – Mering characterises her quest for true love in a #MEFIRST world as an intergalactic impossibility: settle for a cold corner of someone else’s reality or give up.

It’s a theme she returns to on the cheerily desperate “Everyday”. A piece of Mamas And Papas whimsy that transforms into a rocket-powered refraction of The Chiffons’ “Sweet Talkin’ Guy”, Mering’s portrait of modern dating makes no secret of her slightly shameful yearning for a partner (“I’m so scared of being alone/It’s true, it’s true”). However, she finds that anxiety jamming her radar as she tries to find her “keeper”. Everyone, she senses, is putting on the same brave face, and to make matters worse, a man she talks to at a party reckons that monogamy is a thing of the past too. With the zeitgeist continually moving, how can anyone hope to get it right? “Heart cannot see”, Mering sings, hitting an ecstatic high in the song’s rhapsodic finale. “My love is blind”.

Faced with the treacherous terrain of human interaction, Mering yearns for the kinds of certainties that her childhood religion once offered. On the subtly gigantic “Something To Believe”, she does her best Judy Garland (or at least the Rufus Wainwright version of Judy Garland) as she surveys the spiritual vacuum that a loveless and godless world has bequeathed her. “When fire leaves a girl too burned to try”, she sings, half-crushed, but it was not God alone that set Mering up for a fall.

On the moody “Movies”, she drifts into reverie as she remembers the films that mapped out what she once felt the future might be like (The Wizard Of Oz and Titanic were among her favourites, she tells Uncut). “The meaning of life doesn’t seem to shine like that screen,” she gasps, five-star fiction having made real life look like box-office poison. “I wanna be in my own movie.”
Unfortunately, she is not the only one who does. A moody slab of AM synth-pop haunted by the ghost of King Crimson, “Mirror Forever” is a portrait of a toxic relationship, Mering describing being overwhelmed in a folie à deux. Her gloomy trudge is interrupted by a moment of clarity. “Oh baby, take a look in the mirror”, she repeats, a plea to her demonic partner to dare to see themselves as they truly are.

It’s a big ask. The lush “Wild Times” – Roxy Music’s “Avalon” playing on the deck of the Lusitania – is a maddening jumble of scraps, the physical and the metaphysical. However, Mering stumbles on the words she was looking for halfway through: “Everyone’s broken now and no one knows just how we could have all gotten so far from truth”.

In such circumstances, anyone sensible would abandon hope. However, for all the faith Mering has lost, she has not given up her belief in humanity’s ability to self-right. “Picture Me Better” is the final meaningful act on Titanic Rising (“Nearer To Thee”, like the title track, is a little instrumental blur). A deliciously nebulous soft-shoe shuffle – does that title translate as “understand me more clearly” or “imagine me fixed”? – it finds Mering recalling a relationship that’s already looking better for being over. Her voice is sonorous but sweet throughout Titanic Rising, like Nico on an up day, but she excels herself as she picks out her closing message to the cosmos: “Waiting for the call from beyond, waiting for something with meaning to come through soon.”

God, aliens and Steven Spielberg may not be racing to her rescue, but Titanic Rising is beyond pleading for intervention. For the waterlogged and the infantilised, the answer is as old as The Who’s Tommy: smash the mirror – get free. Despite all painful evidence to the contrary, Mering seems adamant that happiness remains only a small leap of the imagination away. In an imperfect, crumbling universe, Titanic Rising emerges as a subtle but irresistible call to action. Rise up, rise up.

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Neil Young announces new book, To Feel The Music

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Neil Young has a new book coming out. To Feel The Music: A Songwriter’s Mission to Save High-Quality Audio will be published in the UK on September 26, 2019 by BenBella Books.

The book is co-written by Phil Baker, a technology journalist and author, reports Thrasher’s Wheat. According to the publishers, To Feel The Music “is the true story of Neil’s quest to bring high-quality audio back to music lovers.

You can read more about Young in this month’s Uncut – where we celebrate 50 years of Young’s creative partnership with Crazy Horse.

“Neil’s efforts to bring quality audio to his fans garnered media attention when his Kickstarter campaign for his Pono player—a revolutionary music player that would combine the highest quality possible with the portability, simplicity and affordability modern listeners crave—became the third-most successful Kickstarter campaign in the website’s history. It had raised more than $6M in pledges in 40 days. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response, Neil still had a long road ahead, and his Pono music player would not have the commercial success he’d imagined. But he remained committed to his mission, and faced with the rise of streaming services that used even lower quality audio, he was determined to rise to the challenge.

“But this is also a business story of what’s involved in starting a company from scratch as well as developing, manufacturing and marketing the product. It takes the reader through the ups and downs and difficulties in turning an idea into a reality. Reminiscent of the classic ‘Soul Of A New Machine’, the book explains the formation and workings of a small team of engineers trying to build a product to literally save music.

“An eye-opening read for all fans of Neil Young, fans of great music, as well as readers interesting in going behind the scenes of a startup company and the product development process, To Feel the Music has an inspiring story at its heart: One determined artist with a groundbreaking vision and the absolute refusal to give up, despite setbacks, naysayers, and skeptics.”

The book is available to pre-order from Amazon by clicking here. The book is published in the US on September 10.

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To Feel The Music: A Songwriter’s Mission to Save High-Quality Audio is Young’s third book, after Waging Heavy Peace in 2012 and Special Deluxe in 2014.

Young recently announced he was going back in the studio with Crazy Horse, to record their first album in seven years.

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Bob Dylan surprises staff at Dublin record shop

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Bob Dylan has sent the signed copy of his 1997 album Time Out Of Mind to a Dublin branch of Tower Records.

The store, based on Dawson St in the city, received the unexpected gift just ahead of Record Store Day, reports RTE, the Irish broadcaster.

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The album arrived on Friday, April 12 and was signed, “To Tower Records Dublin, thanks for still selling records! – Bob Dylan.”

Dylan is currently on tour in Europe. He is scheduled to play two shows at Vienna‘s Konzerthaus on April 16 and 17, then on through Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark before he co-headlines with Neil Young at London’s Hyde Park on July 12 and Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park on July 14. Dylan’s full set of upcoming tour dates can be found here.

You can read more about Bob Dylan in the next issue of Uncut – more details to be revealed tomorrow, April 16.

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Watch Bruce Springsteen’s surprise performance at New York benefit

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Bruce Springsteen made his first live performance of 2019 on Saturday, April 13.

This surprise appearance took place at the annual Kristen Ann Carr Fund benefit which took place at New York’s Tribeca Grill, reports Variety.

Springsteen performed with photographer Danny Clinch and his Tangiers Blues Band. They played “Rockin’ Pneumonia And Boogie Woogie Flu” and “Down The Road Apiece”.

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The event, A Night To Remember, raises money and awareness in the charity’s fight against sarcoma. It was named after the late daughter of Springsteen’s co-manager Barbara Carr. You can find out more about the charity by clicking here.

The show marked Springsteen’s first public performance since Springsteen On Broadway finished its run on December 15. You can read our interview with Springsteen’s co-manager Jon Landau and director Thom Zimny about the Broadway show here.

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

New Order – Movement: The 
Definitive Edition

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We weren’t pop and we weren’t art, we were just… lucky.” So claimed drummer Stephen Morris recently, in one of 
a series of YouTube “Transmissions” from New Order teasing this expanded reissue of their debut. He was referring to the band’s eventual landing the right way up – convincing, if imperfect, bridging album in their hands – after months of tumbling in pained darkness and confusion following Ian Curtis’s death. Somehow, Morris, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook had come through it and, with the later addition of Gillian Gilbert, wrangled a whole new group identity. Not only that, they could see a future, even if its shape was indistinct.

Movement’s recording process was famously difficult: band members’ grief aside, the eccentric working methods and obnoxious behaviour of producer Martin Hannett have created a mythos layered with worn narratives that increase in potency with every passing year. But it’s no less crucial a backstory for that. Nearly 40 years on, Movement compels as a document of the metamorphosis from Joy Division minus the singer to something else, captured in reel time. This boxset – more particularly the original album, plus an 18-track disc of previously unreleased material – chronicles that journey in a way 2008’s modest collector’s edition could not, its marketing as the “definitive edition” sounding a faint note of relief in its finality. By now, that corner of the New Order vault must be well and truly cleaned out.

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That Joy Division’s ghost stalks Movement is hardly surprising, given that New Order had written more than half a dozen new songs just two months after Curtis’s death, one of them (“Dreams Never End”) reportedly hours after his wake: it’s present in the monochrome palette, austere instrumental and vocal lines and the vast, echoing spaces. But the way many of the songs are configured – via heavy use of drum machines, sequencers and synths – is significantly different. So, while “Truth” is as sombre as anything off Closer, strung out along a hypnotic bassline, with a bleakly disassociated vocal and featuring the mournful parp of a melodica, the somewhat messy “Senses” builds to a death-disco frenzy via an opening salvo of electronic hiss and clattering, underpinned by a furiously rolling drum pattern. And the heavily percussive “ICB”, strafed by processed ricochets, whistles and whip cracks, makes for a differently abstract drama.

Two tracks are at the opposite end of the mood spectrum. Opener “Dreams Never End” uses that instantly identifiable, six-string bass riff, clarion guitar peals and a galloping beat to suggest the exhilaration of roaring across a wide-open space charged with promise, with lyrics (“No looking back now, we’re pushing through”) it’s tempting to read as a future-positive declaration, while goth-disco closer “Denial” struggles to contain its frantic rhythmic crosscurrents and is a merry jig in comparison with the sepulchral “The Him”. It’s this push/pull between introverted, post-punk severity and the kind of confident, electronic pulsing so central to “Everything’s Gone Green” 
(the game-changer informed by the band’s contact with NY club culture, written towards the end of the sessions, but left off the album) that characterises Movement.

Morris has described the record as “just a snapshot 
of a few months of our lives”. In which case, the demos, rehearsal recordings and alternative mixes collected on this boxset’s companion disc are like annotations to that snapshot, pointing to New Order’s shifting intent and exploratory process during a uniquely transformative period. The demos are especially significant: one set recorded by the then trio in early September of 1980 at Cabaret Voltaire’s Western Works studio in Sheffield and heavily bootlegged down the decades, but officially released here for the first time; the other recorded at Rochdale’s Cargo Studios in late November and unreleased.

The five WW tracks document all three musicians testing their vocals, since no-one wanted to step into Curtis’s shoes: Morris is entirely creditable on “Truth” and (non-album track) “Ceremony”, while Hook sings “Everything’s Gone Green” and Sumner “Homage”, a peculiar, punk-Floyd number with deranged hi-hats that was dumped and never revived. Skronky, Slits-ish jam “Are You Ready For This”, meanwhile, features Stephen Mallinder and New Order manager Rob Gretton on vocals. Highlights of the Cargo tracks – all recorded live, with little or no overdubbing – are an appealingly scrappy take on “Mesh” (the B-side of “Everything…”), a leaner and more determined “Procession” and “Doubts Even Here”, 
a five-minute instrumental shorn of the final version’s cacophonous outro.

“Bonus” discs in boxsets too often feature random studio sweepings of interest only to completists, but Movement’s is as entertaining as it is instructive, allowing voyeuristic earwigging from behind the soundproofed door. All New Order members may have had to make their peace with this fresh exposure as they did with the original album, and three of them might be doing it again soon; in June, Unknown Pleasures turns 
40. If dreams never end, then neither does reevaluation.

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Shana Cleveland – Night Of The Worm Moon

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Even more than most cities, Los Angeles has a split personality. Across its vast sprawl, reality meets fantasy, strange ideas filter into the mainstream, and wild success battles broken dreams.

This photocopy of paradise has long been ripe for exploration by artists from Raymond Chandler to David Lynch, and now singer-songwriter Shana Cleveland has drawn on her peculiar experiences of LA for her second solo album. Across Night Of The Worm Moon’s 10 hushed, hypnotic tracks, the guitarist sings of a friend’s creative burn-out on the West Coast, of a mysterious light in the sky, of a place where creatures swarm into the trees and sing “for you”, and where a silent house becomes a sign of impending horror.

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Crucially, Cleveland was not born a Californian: she grew up in Michigan, the daughter of blues musicians, but found herself in Seattle a decade ago, forming surf-rock quartet La Luz. The group then moved to LA, recording Weirdo Shrine with Ty Segall, and Cleveland became fascinated by some of the local beliefs. “To me it seems like a place that encourages that sort of mysticism and open-mindedness,” she tells Uncut.

Night Of The Worm Moon isn’t her first album on her own – Oh Man, Cover The Ground was recorded in 2011 and released in 2015 – but it sees her return to solo work following Weirdo Shrine and La Luz’s Dan Auerbach-produced Floating Features (2018). Things have changed: rather than the stoned Fahey and Basho figures of her debut, there’s a hot, dusty feel to these songs, with parched synths and Olie Eshleman’s cosmic pedal steel. A stronger psychedelic vein runs through the album, too, with Cleveland picking out woozy, unexpected chords that echo Syd Barrett’s “Terrapin”. If this is desert music, it’s less a blissful peyote trip and more a hike gone wrong, with thirst and fatigue bringing on the strangest visions.

Sometimes what seems at first fantastical can be real, though: “The Fireball” finds Cleveland recalling seeing a giant comet streaking through the air, but “no-one around was looking up at the same time”. More sinister is the title track, which sounds as if it was inspired by a nightmare (à la La Luz’s “The Creature”) but was in fact brought on by the sight of a strange man hanging around outside Cleveland’s house for days on end. “I was at home alone a lot,” she says, “and my imagination just got the better of me.”

The tumbleweed lilt of “Face Of The Sun” pays tribute to an acquaintance who left the Midwest for musical success on the West Coast, only to be chewed up by the industry. “A New Song” is similarly bittersweet, a tale of domestic bliss undercut by drunken synths and the line, delivered as if from the depths of sleep, “You broke a vow we didn’t talk about, but I found out.”

Elsewhere, Cleveland delves deeper into the subconscious, with the opening “Don’t Let Me Sleep” recounting a dream where the guitarist saw her late grandmother at the side of the stage, “waiting to tell me she loves me so”. Similarly, the gorgeous “In Another Realm” can be read as a message to a loved one who’s far away, but as the song progresses, reality is muddied: is the barrier between them actually between life and death? “In another realm… I know that you won’t let me go,” she sings. “Invisible When The Sun Leaves” has a similar duality – its opening verse seems to describe cicadas, singing unseen, but the patterns Cleveland strikes in open G minor tuning suggest something much darker is on the way.

Instrumental music is clearly important to Cleveland (the album’s title is a nod to Sun Ra’s The Night Of The Purple Moon, after all), and so the flighty “Castle Milk” and the bluesier “Solar Creep” find her picking over jazzy drums and double bass. Indeed, much of Night Of The Worm Moon has a meditative, unhurried quality that’s more typically found in instrumental records such as Alice Coltrane’s Journey In Satchidananda or Brian Eno’s Another Green World. Worm Moon might be the nocturnal flipside to these, in both its content and Cleveland’s sleepy delivery, and after some deep immersion its charms fully unfold into a beautifully hazy whole.

Like all huge cities, LA can prove exhausting to live in, and “Invisible When The Sun Leaves” contains a hint of that in the haiku-like “Little house out/By some water”, as if Cleveland is seeking a respite from the sprawl. She’s escaped now, having moved up to “the middle of nowhere” in northern California’s Gold Country; but her LA experiences, dreams and nightmares all, have crystallised into this miniature masterpiece.

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

The 14th Uncut New Music Playlist Of 2019

I realise two Playlists in one week might seem a bit much – but there’s such a weight of good new music coming out right now it would remiss not to try and bring some of it together in one place. More news about one of these bands next week, by the way…

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1.
TAME IMPALA

“Borderline”
(Fiction)

2.
PANDA BEAR

“Buoys”
(Domino)

3.
CRUMB

“Nina”
(Crumb)

4.
BLACK PEACHES

“Lemonade”
(Hanging Moon)

5.
MEGA BOG

“Diary Of A Rose”
(Paradise Of Bachelors)

6.
LAURENCE PIKE

“Drum Chant”
(Leaf)

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7.
THE RACONTEURS

“Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)”
(XL)

8.
NICK LOWE

“Trombone”
(Yep Roc)

9.
ROSE CITY BAND

“Rip City”
(Audiam)

10.
JAKE XERXES FUSSELL

“The River Of St Johns”
(Paradise Of Bachelors)

11.
THE DREAM SYNDICATE

“Black Light”
(Anti-)

12.
THE NATIONAL

“Light Years”
(4AD)

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Echo And The Bunnymen on their greatest albums: “It felt like we were the best band in the world”

Originally published in Uncut’s August 2014 issue

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Ian McCulloch has always had a lofty opinion of Echo & The Bunnymen. “It felt like we were the best band in the world,” he says of the group’s early days. “It was my dream, and I didn’t want to be in ‘the second best band in the world’…”

Across their first four albums, up to the undisputed high-point of 1984’s Ocean Rain, the Bunnymen – McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant, bassist Les Pattinson and drummer Pete De Freitas – created their own lush, string-driven sound completely at odds with most of their ’80s post-punk contemporaries, and wrote glowering, majestic songs like “The Killing Moon”, “The Cutter” and “The Back Of Love”, that still sound like bona fide classics today – even if the band don’t always agree who actually wrote them.

“It still is an adventure,” says McCulloch. “A lot of our new album feels like the early days to me.”

_____________________

Crocodiles
Korova, 1980
The spiky, classic debut – with drum machine ‘Echo’ making way for Pete De Freitas.

Ian McCulloch: In those days we all got on and [Bill] Drummond was almost like the fifth member of the Bunnymen. I can’t remember there being any arguments, not that it was very chilled for the first few days… Maybe it was because we were so young, but it was brilliant.

Will Sergeant: We didn’t know what we were doing, it all just fell into place in a weird way from the very first gig. I didn’t think, “this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life”, but I knew it was better than working as a chef.

Les Pattinson: Iggy Pop had been at Rockfield studios the week before us, so we got all the stories about him chatting up all the chamber maids, and we all wanted to know which bog he’d shit on. Everything was new and I just couldn’t believe how much it cost, and how much time was wasted trying to get something we thought we already knew. It was really bizarre, the way certain members of the band wouldn’t get up until two in the afternoon…

Sergeant: I was amazed at how much [co-producer] Ian Broudie knew in the studio. Drummond and [Dave] Balfe were more “vibe merchants”.

McCulloch: The others used to go off to pubs or light bonfires while I’d be watching telly or singing my head off in the studio. I didn’t enjoy exploring the woods – I never had been one of those adventurous lads. By the end I was getting a bit of cabin fever. But it got fantastic reviews across the board. I never doubted us. I could see it was special. I felt destined to make great records.

_____________________

Heaven Up Here
Korova, 1981
Huw Jones is promoted from engineer to producer for the Bunnymen’s more expansive follow-up.

Sergeant: We loved Huw, he was a very mellow bloke, just stood there smoking a roll-up. Everything then had that big, horrible drum sound, the DX7 with that chiming bell sound, and we hated all that. We wanted them to be classic sounds, sounds nobody else could get. I played guitar with a pair of scissors at one point, and I kind of banned cymbals.

McCulloch: I used to do the night shift, and finish at about six or seven in the morning. Huw used to survive on two or three hours’ sleep and still be perky in the morning to do guitar overdubs and percussion.

Pattinson: With Heaven Up Here we felt a bit more confident, a bit more experimental. I love cross-harmonies, and parts where I play the same thing over and over again. Each bar doesn’t sound the same because Pete’s adding a little bit and I’m adding a little bit. Me, Will and Pete would go to these African music shops and buy marimbas, and come up with these rhythms we’d never heard before. It was all about not being scared to try things and think, ‘Well, this doesn’t sound like a Bunnymen record’, but it did, because it was the four of us.

Sergeant: I remember The Teardrop Explodes were rehearsing in The Mill up the road from Rockfield, and we were hanging out then. Someone gave us shotguns to play with…

McCulloch: It was like, ‘What are we doing!? We’re going to hit someone!’ I left the others to that, had one go and nearly broke my shoulder! The power out of those things was nuts.

Hear Tame Impala’s new single, “Borderline”

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Tame Impala have today released a new single called “Borderline”. Hear it below:

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The band have also announced a couple of new UK and Ireland shows for June in addition to their festival dates. Peruse their full itinerary below, and buy tickets for London/Blackpool here.

April 13 – Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival – Indio, CA
April 20 – Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival – Indio,CA
May 02 – Ascend Amphitheatre – Nashville, TN
May 03 – Explore Asheville Arena – Asheville, NC
May 05 – Shaky Knees Music Festival – Atlanta, GA
May 06 – St. Augustine Amphitheater – St. Augustine, FL
May 07 – Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater – Miami Beach FL
May 11 – Corona Capital Festival – Guadalajara, MEXICO
May 25 – Boston Calling Festival – Boston, MA
May 31 – Primavera Festival – Barcelona
June 01 – We Love Green – Paris
June 05 – Garden – Gothenberg
June 06 – NorthSide – Aarhus
June 08 – O2 Arena – London
June 21 – Hurricane Festival – Sheebel
June 22 – Southside Festival – Neuhausen ob eck
June 24 – Empress Ballroom – Blackpool
June 26 – Glastonbury – Pilton
August 01-04 – Lollapalooza – Chicago, IL
August 09 – Flow Festival – Helsinki
August 14 – Pukkelpop – Hasselt
August 15 – La Route Du Rock – Rennes
August 16 – Lowlands Festival – Walibi Holland

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

The Smiths – Ultimate Music Guide (Deluxe Edition)

It’s time the tale were told…

On the 35th anniversary of their debut, the latest in our Deluxe Ultimate Music Guides is our fully-updated story of THE SMITHS.

Featuring extensive new writing on the solo careers of JOHNNY MARR and MORRISSEY, including a review of his new covers album California Son.

You’ve got everything now!

Buy online here

Nick Cave’s Distant Sky film streaming for free over Easter

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Last year’s Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ concert film Distant Sky – Live In Copenhagen is being made available for free online screening for three days over Easter.

Go here to sign up to access the film, which will be available to from April 19 to April 22, and remind yourself of what’s it all about by watching the trailer below.

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Meanwhile, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have announced a couple of Australian live dates backed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, during which they’ll perform suites from their various collaborative film soundtracks.

The concerts will take place at on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 August at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne – tickets here.

Their soundtrack to The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford is remastered and released on vinyl for the first time on April 19.

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.

Introducing The Smiths: The Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide

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For ardent Smiths’ watchers, these can often be trying times. Morrissey and Johnny Marr seem to have diverged ideologically to the point where they have little left in common beyond a shared history that ended over 30 years ago. The moments where they have interacted for long spells – most famously, the revelation in Marr’s memoir that the pair discussed the possibility of reforming the band in 2008 – seem all the more remote as their solo careers continue to flourish.

Marr’s last album, Call The Comet, was as rich with warmth and optimism as it was brimming with musical ideas; Morrissey’s latest, California Son, is an unexpected career swerve, a collection of covers, including songs by Dylan, Phil Ochs and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Morrissey’s reasons for choosing covers as opposed to originals at this point in his career are as yet undisclosed; as are any parallels he might see between the ‘60s protest movement and the present day.

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Yet despite their differences, both Morrissey and Marr have so far maintained a satisfyingly careful watch over The Smiths’ legacy. The 2011 remasters improved greatly on their 1993 predecessors – while the 2017 deluxe reissue of The Queen Is Dead was diligently curated, adding shade and colour to the band’s most majestic long player.

For our own part, here at Uncut we’ve tried to honour the band’s remarkable memory. To mark the 35th anniversary of their mercurial debut album, we’re proud to introduce the latest in our Deluxe Ultimate Music Guides – the story of The Smiths. This features extensive new writing on the solo careers of messers Morrissey and Marr, including what I think is an exclusive review of Morrissey’s California Son. It’s in shops from Friday, but you can buy a copy now via our online store by clicking here.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner

The May 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from March 21, and available to order online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.