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The making of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Exodus

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In the latest issue of Uncut – in shops now or available to buy online by clicking here – we look back at the making of Bob Marley & The Wailers‘ greatest albums with the help of key personnel, including Marley’s Wailers bandmates Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, Donald Kinsey and Junior Marvin.

In this extract from Graeme Thomson’s article, the trio discuss the making of their 1977 classic Exodus. Exiled in London, Marley and The Wailers make an album for all-comers: Side One is by turns angry, philosophical and mystical; Side Two offers uplifting party tunes.

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DONALD KINSEY:
Bob left Jamaica and went to the Bahamas, then decided he wanted to go to England. They really went underground for a while, into exile.

JUNIOR MARVIN: I met Bob in London on Valentine’s Day 1977. We started rehearsing right away. My first jam that day was “Exodus”, “Waiting In Vain” and “Jamming” – we played each song for about 45 minutes. Bob was still putting final touches to the lyrics and the music with the keyboard player, Tyrone Downie, who at the time was filling in on bass. Tyrone and myself helped write “Exodus” and “Is This Love?” It was a very electric experience. It was the first time I ever saw somebody’s aura. He was so happy to be alive after the shooting, smiling and having a good time. He was very comfortable in London. There was a great Jamaican and Afro-Caribbean community, people from Ethiopia, Africa…

ASTON BARRETT: We spent some good times in London. Just living life, all of us in the band, doing music as we always did. Recording at Island studios was a vibe. It was nice.

JUNIOR MARVIN:
There was no rush in the studio, nobody watching the clock. We had it booked 24 hours a day; for Bob that was a dream come true. The songs on Exodus were generally more recent than the ones on Kaya. “Waiting In Vain” was fresh because he had just fallen in love with Cindy Breakspeare. “Exodus” was partly written because Bob had left Jamaica after the shooting attempt – “movement of Jah people,” meaning everyone is part of that movement, no matter your colour, creed or history. “Natural Mystic” was very current, because he couldn’t believe he was still alive, getting protection from the spiritual vibration. The songs definitely had continuity and a special sense of time and place. It had love songs, too, but it had a militant edge. We had a good time recording live, the organic way. It would be drums, bass, piano, acoustic guitar, lead guitar, and rough vocals. Bob would redo his rhythm guitar, and a lot of the vocals. We spent a lot of time mixing, trying to perfect everything. We’d compare our album with the top albums of the time and see how ours measured up sonically. It wasn’t just great songs, but musically almost perfect. It really revolutionised the sound of reggae.

You can read much more about Bob Marley & The Wailers in the latest issue of Uncut, on sale now with Leonard Cohen on the cover.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?

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Around the time of their last album, 2015’s Fading Frontier, something about Deerhunter changed. It might have had to do with the serious accident the band’s enigmatic frontman and chief songwriter Bradford Cox suffered in the summer of 2014 – he was hit by a car – which left him feeling emotionally numb following the recuperative course of painkillers he was prescribed. You could reason, too, that after a decade of wilfully experimental and wildly indulgent art rock, which resulted in a couple of this decade’s outsider masterpieces in Halcyon Digest and Monomania, the group naturally mellowed and chose to focus their considerable abilities.

Either way, Fading Frontier found them taking stock of their anxieties and reining in their flights of fantasy to compose a very human and heartfelt record, proving, not that it were needed, that Cox could engage in a kind of direct, emotional pop. At the time, he likened Fading Frontier to the first day of spring after a brutal winter. Were we to extend that analogy, its follow-up Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? might be a glorious day in late summer, but on closer inspection things are slightly off: the fruit hanging from the trees is rotten and shrivelled, the animals are lame, and the water in the streams tastes bitter, metallic. The earth is toxic.

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Part eco-lament, part eulogy for emotion, part reflection on the 24-hour news cycle in the age of Trump and the threat of nationalism, on WHEAD? Cox delivers a fairly stark status update for humanity – “Walk around and you’ll see what’s fading”, he warns on “Death In Midsummer” – but sugars the pill by wrapping the message in some of Deerhunter’s prettiest songs to date; the dopamine hits we crave while scrolling through our feeds. Baroque harpsichord and mandolin melodies are sprinkled liberally across “Death In Midsummer”, “What Happens To People” and “Element”, which clip along jauntily as if the band were parading down Carnaby Street on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Tucked near the end of the album, the effortless “Plains”, where Cox muses on the actor James Dean’s time in Marfa, Texas, could become the radio hit they’ve so far managed to avoid.

Cox says he has never worked so hard on an album, the fully formed demos he made in the attic studio of his Atlanta home brought to various studios to record with the band and regular producer Ben Allen. What’s new about this record is the involvement of Welsh musician Cate Le Bon, known for her freewheeling lo-fi solo work and as part of Drinks. Cox recruited her as producer after the pair worked together during last year’s Marfa Myths series in the artist outpost of Marfa, where they returned to finish this album. He struggles to pin down her precise qualities, implying that her mere presence in the studio is inspiration enough, but there’s a freshness and looseness to the material not heard before. Her layered vocals on the celestial “Tarnung”, a Visible Cloaks-style marimba shimmer written by Lockett Pundt, provide a moment of tranquillity.

Like Sonic Youth before them, what makes Deerhunter one of today’s great American bands is their ability to absorb their environment and channel this into music that always strives to be different to what they’ve done before and which challenges preconceptions of who they are. In acknowledging that “No One’s Sleeping” is a response to the senseless murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in June 2016, her namesake, the archetypal wildcard dreamer, reveals that in fact he’s very much engaged with reality, though he keeps politics out of this Lodger-period Bowie number, preferring his usual allegory: “In the country there’s much duress. Violence has taken hold. Follow me, the golden void.”

Not everything is a success: on an album that explores relatively formal and concise songwriting, the more abstract pieces fall flat, such as the Numan-ish synth exercise “Greenpoint Gothic’ or “Détournement”’s cybernetic drift. In staking out an oddly agreeable middle-ground for Deerhunter, Cox risks forfeiting that element of danger and weirdness that made his band so special. Having restrained himself in that regard, his questing spirit is manifested in other ways, not least, on this album, in his cautious sense of responsibility and his despair for the planet and society. “Your cage is what you make it”, he sings on “Futurism”. “If you decorate it, it goes by faster.” At the age of 36, Cox is facing the future, and he’s not sure whether to laugh or cry.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

Curtis Mayfield’s early solo albums remastered for new box set

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Curtis Mayfield’s first four solo albums have been remastered for a new box set, Keep On Keeping On, to be released by Rhino on February 22.

The LP or CD set includes Curtis (1970), Roots (1971), Back To The World (1973) and Sweet Exorcist (1974) – though not Mayfield’s 1972 Superfly soundtrack.

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The remastered albums will also be available digitally. You can pre-order Keep On Keeping On here, with early orders including a 12×12 print.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

Watch a video for Stephen Malkmus’s new single, “Viktor Borgia”

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Back in November, Stephen Malkmus told Uncut that he’d recorded a solo electronic/garage record called Groove Denied.

He revealed that Matador had rejected the album, leading Malkmus to make the more typical, guitar-based effort Sparkle Hard with his regular band The Jicks. But his Groove is not to be Denied, and the lo-fi solo effort is now coming out on March 15 via Domino.

Watch a video for the first single “Viktor Borgia” below”

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“I was thinking things like Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’, the Human League, and DIY synth music circa 1982,” says Malkmus of the song, “and also about how in the New Wave Eighties, these suburban 18-and-over dance clubs were where all the freaks would meet – a sanctuary.”

Pre-order Groove Denied here, including a clear vinyl version with bonus floppy disc and photo print. Check out the tracklisting below:

1. Belziger Faceplant
2. A Bit Wilder
3. Viktor Borgia
4. Come Get Me
5. Forget Your Place
6. Rushing The Acid Frat
7. Love The Door
8. Bossviscerate
9. Ocean of Revenge
10. Grown Nothing

Meanwhile, Malkmus’s former Pavement bandmate Scott ‘Spiral Stairs‘ Kannberg is also releasing a new album in March. Hear the title track from We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized – out on March 22 via Nine Mile Records / Coolin’ By Sound – below:

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

Green River – Dry As A Bone / Rehab Doll

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Formed in 1984 and defunct by 1987, Seattle’s Green River didn’t enjoy an auspicious career. They released two EPs of sludgy punk-metal during their time together, both of which were delayed by their labels, and their only U.S. tour was launched with no record in hand and no fans in clubs. Another delay meant their first full-length album was released six months after the musicians had gone their separate ways.

Despite such indignities, Green River have had a remarkable afterlife, proving massively influential within the Seattle rock scene. Following their break-up, its members went on to co-found Mudhoney, Love Battery, Mother Love Bone, and later Pearl Jam. More crucially, Green River’s small catalogue — in particular 1986’s Dry As A Bone and 1988’s posthumous Rehab Doll, both of which are being reissued with generous bonus material by Sub Pop — established what became known as the Seattle sound, a rambunctious collision of metal aggression, punk insouciance, classic rock riffing, and industrial-grade sludge. In these two releases lay the foundation of every subsequent Washington State band, for better or for worse, from Nirvana to Alice in Chains to such suspect latecomers as Candlebox.

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Produced by Jack Endino (Soundgarden, Tad), Dry As A Bone is arguably Green River’s best and most unhinged album, certainly their rawest and possibly even their funniest. Frontman Mark Arm already exhibits a bizarre charisma, singing like he’s trying to out-Iggy the Stooges, and the band churn up a dank, dramatic sound that doesn’t sacrifice agile for heavy. “Unwind” opens as a grimy blooz-rock strut until the rhythm section turns it all inside out, quickening the pace and stretching the groove like taffy. It’s the most bracing moment in their small catalogue.

Sounding much more professional, Rehab Doll sharpens their blustery attack but burnishes some of Green River’s snottier eccentricities. An early and grimly humorous send-up of the city’s infamous heroin scene, the title track showcases the chops of new guitarist Stone Gossard, who introduces some of the swagger he would later bring to Pearl Jam. The highlight, however, might be their gnarly version of “Queen Bitch,” which shows the band could strut and sashay as confidently as they could lurch and lumber.

Perhaps even more than establishing the musical blueprint for grunge, Green River are noteworthy for embodying two very different, very oppositional attitudes that defined the Seattle scene of the late 1980s and beyond: keeping it real versus selling out. The tension between Arm’s DIY ethos and the more ambitious aims of Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament eventually tore the band apart, and that conflict would outlive grunge and define alt.rock for the next decade. As Arm howls on “PCC”: “What’s dead is now long forgotten / I never let it bother me.”

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

Introducing Ultimate Record Collection: The 1960s

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Hopefully, you’ll have spotted a splendid new issue of Uncut in the shops – or you can buy a copy online now – featuring tons of goodies including Leonard Cohen, The Yardbirds, Bob Marley, Crass, Lambchop and Jessica Pratt.

If that wasn’t enough, we’re delighted to launch the latest magazine from the Uncut family – Ultimate Record Collection: The 1960s. A spin-off from our Ultimate Record Collection, this new volume is in shops from Friday but you can buy a copy from our online store now. The 1960s is a 124-page guide to hearing (and buying) the best music of that storied decade, from James Brown to the Beatles, Dylan to John Coltrane and onwards. Here’s John Robinson, our one-shots editor, to tell you more about it.

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In the introduction to the decade he wrote for the first Ultimate Record Collection the late writer David Cavanagh recalled John Lennon’s remark about the cultural landscape before Elvis Presley: “Before Elvis, there was nothing.” True enough, David wrote. And after the Beatles there was everything.

So much great new music emerged alongside or in the wake of the Beatles, we’ve dedicated this new magazine to the best ways of listening to it all. You’ll find overviews and recommendations of work by era heavyweights like the Rolling Stones, Cream, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys (and the Beatles, of course). Featured also are American rock acts like the Byrds, Captain Beefheart, The Doors, Love – whose albums flowered in the warmth of the creative environment to which the Beatles helped give rise. The powerful soul and r&b which inspired them is represented too.

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As Joe Boyd – producer of legendary records in the 1960s and beyond; an unofficial godfather to the magazine – reminds us in an exclusive interview inside, the flourishing of the album form was not limited to rock. There was an album tradition, a sense of something having been specifically convened to be consumed in one sitting, in jazz and also in folk music. You’ll find extensive selections of both inside as you perceive the album medium grow.

In this publication the 1960s is our subject, but we’ve been governed by a very 21st century notion: a fear of missing out. When we made the first volume of Ultimate Record Collection in late 2017, we focused on a list of albums which was readily available new, and on vinyl. This time the mission has been to open the floodgates to all great albums from the decade. We’ve compiled over 600 albums here, and we don’t want you to miss out on any of them. Rather than a prescriptive list – to me a bit of a 1950s notion – this is a magazine which hopes to offer the listener some new directions.

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The February 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with New Order on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Pete Shelley RIP, our massive 2019 Albums Preview, Sharon Van Etten, Mark Knopfler, Paul Simonon, John Martyn, Steve Gunn and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Bruce Springsteen, William Tyler and the Dream Syndicate.

Listen to a new BBC radio drama about The KLF

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Radio 4 have created a new drama for BBC Sounds about The KLF entitled How To Burn A Million Quid.

Available to download now as six-part podcast, it stars Paul Higgins (The Thick Of It, Utopia, Line Of Duty) as Bill Drummond and Nicholas Burns (Nathan Barley, The World’s End) as Jimmy Cauty, with comedian Kevin Eldon as their roadie Gimpo – the only other witness to their fabled burning of a million pounds in cash on the island of Jura in 1994.

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You can listen to and download all six episodes of How To Burn A Million Quid from here.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

New Order and Hot Chip join Kraftwerk as Bluedot headliners

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New Order and Hot Chip have been unveiled as headliners – alongside the previously announced Kraftwerk – for this year’s Bluedot festival, taking place at Cheshire’s Jodrell Bank Observatory on July 18-21.

Recent Uncut cover stars New Order will headline on the Sunday night while Hot Chip – who are expected to release a new album this year – will headline the Friday. Kraftwerk top the bill on Saturday with their 3D show, while Manchester’s Halle orchestra will open the festival on Thursday with Lift Off, “a performance of specially selected sci-fi themes and music related to the Moon accompanied by
unique big screen visuals”.

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Other acts on the bill include Gruff Rhys, Anna Calvi, John Grant, Les Amazones d’Afrique, 808 State, The Go! Team, Ibibio Sound Machine and Omar Souleyman, alongside various science and space-related shenanigans.

Tickets go on sale at 10am on Thursday (January 24) from here.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

The 3rd Uncut New Music Playlist Of 2019

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Hopefully, you’ll have spotted that we have a splendid new issue in the shops – or you can buy a copy online now – featuring Leonard Cohen, The Yardbirds, Bob Marley, Crass, Lambchop and a ton of other great stuff. Talking of great stuff, check out this week’s farings from the Uncut office stereo. Props, particularly, to The Comet Is Coming, Weyes Blood and Terry Allen And The Panhandle Mystery Band…

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1.
THE COMET IS COMING

“Summon The Fire”
(Impulse!)

2.
WEYES BLOOD

“Andromeda”
(Sub Pop)

3.
TOWNES VAN ZANDT

“All I Need”
(Fat Possum)

4.
TERRY ALLEN AND THE PANHANDLE MYSTERY BAND

“Pedal Steal: Chapter 1”
(Paradise Of Bachelors)

5.
PANDA BEAR

“Token”
(Domino)

6.
H.C. MCENTIRE

“Houses Of The Holy”
(Merge Records)

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7.
CLAIRE M SINGER

“The Molendinar”
(Touch)

8.
JONNY GREENWOOD

“De-Tuned Quartet”
(Nonsuch)

9.
PEDRO THE LION

“Quietest Friend”
(PolyVinyl Record Co.)

10.
ERIC CHENAUX

“Wild Moon”
(Constellation Records)

11.
KALLI UCHIS

“Venus As A Boy”

12.
YOLA

“Faraway Look”
(Easy Eye Sound)

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The February 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with New Order on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Pete Shelley RIP, our massive 2019 Albums Preview, Sharon Van Etten, Mark Knopfler, Paul Simonon, John Martyn, Steve Gunn and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Bruce Springsteen, William Tyler and the Dream Syndicate.

Jim O’Rourke: “I don’t want people to be happy when they listen to my music!”

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Originally published in Uncut’s July 2015 issue

After leaving Sonic Youth in 2005, Jim O’Rourke mostly abandoned a multi- faceted career as masterful singer-songwriter, experimental prankster and Wilco associate. Now, though, he has released his first album of songs in 14 years – a prog-pop masterpiece called, disingenuously, Simple Songs. At home in Japan, he tells Uncut what took him so long: “I’m really, really particular. If I asked everyone to record it one more time they’d have killed me and put me in a dumpster.”

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_____________________________

“Jimmy Page comes to Japan two or three times a year,” says Jim O’Rourke, lighting a cigarette. “He visits a record shop in Shinjuku and supposedly buys every Led Zep bootleg that ’s come out since the last time he came here. That’s all I’ve heard he does, buy Led Zep records. When I saw him, all the customers were bothering him, but I didn’t. I kinda regret it.”

Jim O’Rourke has been living in Japan for a decade now. Regular Page-spotting aside, he has spent these past 10 years gradually disconnecting himself from the American rock and avant-garde circles he had once inhabited. A member of Sonic Youth during their later career, he now shuns touring and only performs one-off shows with experimental musicians such as Keiji Haino or Peter Brötzmann. Formerly a producer of landmark albums for artists including Wilco, Smog and Stereolab, today he prefers to record his Japanese friends. Day to day, he rarely even speaks English. all of which suits the 46-year-old Japanophile just fine.

“When I was in Sonic Youth,” he explains, “every time I came back to the States from visiting Japan, I don’t know if I’d even get out of bed for weeks at a time, because it was the most depressing thing. I’d always said I was gonna move to Japan, so it was like ‘Put up or shut up’.”

This relocation has allowed O’Rourke the space and time to work extensively on Simple Songs, his first song-based record since Insignificance 14 years ago. Whereas 1999’s acclaimed Eureka was a sweeping, melancholic record reminiscent of Van Dyke Parks in its grand textures and surreal vision of America, and Insignificance noisier and harsher, Simple Songs is subtle, ornate and perhaps his strongest statement yet: eight tracks of surprisingly complex, prog-tinged pop dusted with piano, 12-string acoustics, harmonised electrics, subtle strings and O’Rourke’s wry wordplay. “There were a lot of songs,” he confesses. “‘Last year’ was finished six years ago. The album went through five or six versions, but there was always one song on each that just didn’t fit.

“Even this final version isn’t quite there yet,” he adds with typical modesty, “but I’ve had enough. I spent six years on it. That’s enough. I don’t know why anybody would want to listen to it, anyway…”

___________________

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Evidently, Jim O’Rourke has the disposition of a wanderer. This is apparent not only in his geographical roamings – they have taken him from his native Chicago to New York and then on to Tokyo – but also in his varied musical disciplines. A graduate of Chicago’s prestigious DePaul University, where he studied composition, O’Rourke’s expansive gifts have long been in evidence in his sprawling back catalogue.

“Bad Timing kind of sucker punched me,” remembers Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy of O’Rourke’s 1997 record, his first for Drag City as a solo artist. “On one hand, it seemed to be working in a language I understood, but on the other it was drawing on things I was intrigued by, like modern composition and experimental music, but had never sensed a way-in for myself, being self-taught and not so serious musically. He really helped me find the human element in a lot of music I liked, but had always felt was cold and impenetrable.”

This mix of the accessible and the impenetrable has long been central to both O’Rourke’s unique working practices and also his unexpected career swerves. On Bad Timing’s incandescent instrumentals like “94 The Long Way”, for instance, he combined the melodic acoustic reveries of John Fahey and Leo Kottke with synths and woozy effects that harked back to his avant-garde roots.

“I remember him from the mid-’80s, because we both did cassettes of industrial avant-garde stuff,” recalls Stereolab’s Tim Gane, who worked with O’Rourke on the band’s Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night and Sound-Dust. “Of course, he started out with jazz and the free music school scene in Chicago, so he was in that world of improvisation, and very quick-witted.”

Moving from the academic confines of the avant-garde towards more accessible, traditional songwriting put O’Rourke on an opposite trajectory to many alternative musicians, including David Grubbs, his partner in the acclaimed Gastr Del Sol in the mid-’90s. “I was an outsider in a weird way,” says O’Rourke. “Everybody in that Chicago scene was getting interested in minimal and avant-garde music, and I had already been studying it for 10 years. I got side-tracked into weird music fairly young. I had had experience of what it was like, and I was sick of it. All of a sudden, there was this world of ‘post-rock’ or whatever, and musicians were afraid to touch songwriting.

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Crass: “Suddenly we were being courted by the KGB”

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The new issue of Uncut – in shops now or available to buy online by clicking here – features a fascinating history of influential DIY punk band Crass.

The tale begins in an anonymous Waterloo café during the dying days of the Cold War. Penny Rimbaud, co-founder and drummer with Crass, was meeting a sailor who had just returned from the Falklands. The sailor, a former skinhead, had written to Crass attacking the band’s anarchic, anti-authoritarian politics. Steve Ignorant, Crass’s vocalist, had written back in the band’s spirit of engagement; they had become unlikely penfriends and allies. “He came back from the Falklands and told us everything he knew,” says Rimbaud today. “He told us there 
had almost been a mutiny and about the HMS Sheffield, which the Navy had allowed to be destroyed. We took all that information and put 
it in the tape.”

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But this wasn’t like Crass’s ferocious anti-war songs “Sheep Farming In The Falklands” or “How Does It Feel?”. Instead, Crass’s bassist Pete Wright cut together speeches by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to shape a fictitious telephone conversation between the two leaders. They sent copies to newspapers all over Europe and waited. And waited. And waited. Months later, a story appeared in The Sunday Times about the hoax in which the Pentagon claimed the KGB was responsible. Back in their shared Epping Forest house, Crass stifled giggles. But weeks later they were exposed. In January 1984, The Observer declared it was the work of “anarchist rock band” Crass. To this day, Rimbaud still doesn’t know how The Observer discovered 
the truth.

“The tape was initially a joke,” says Rimbaud. “We wanted to do anything we could to undermine Thatcher. Because of the tape, we got all this classified information about the Sheffield published on the front pages of The Observer. Suddenly we were being courted by people from all sorts of unpleasant organisations who wanted to know what else we had to offer, the KGB particularly.” He pauses. “To be honest, we were shit-scared. It wasn’t a joke any more.”

Subsequently Crass were invited to a meeting with “a Russian literary magazine” in Cromwell Street. Suspecting this was a KGB front, the band invited along a CBS news crew who wanted to interview them. Then, having liberally enjoyed the vodka on offer, the band scarpered, leaving Russians and Americans together. “We ran down the road like A Hard Day’s Night jumping in the air and clicking our heels,” says Rimbaud. “Naughty little boys arsing round. But it was hellish serious. We’d be shot or locked up for that now.”

Not many bands are involved in front page exposés over episodes of international espionage, but not many bands were like Crass. The band were the product of a unique confluence of people, place and time, punks who lived like hippies and wrote aggressive songs about politics. They recorded five albums between 1978 and 1983 as well as a related body of films, publications and artworks and at times were less a band than “an information bureau”, says Steve Ignorant. “Everything serious or heavy that went on, we felt we had to be saying something about it.”

By the time the band came apart in 1984, Crass had inspired a loyal, motivated and open-minded fanbase, many of whom wear the Crass logo as badge or tattoo and went on to campaign for animal rights, anarcho-feminism and anti-road groups. “Crass touched people very deeply and people want to live their lives the Crass way,” says Ignorant. “And Crass put something in me that I can’t get rid of – a conscience, a sense of injustice. I still live my life according to 99 per cent of what Crass was about.”

You can read much more about Crass in the new issue of Uncut, out now with Leonard Cohen on the cover.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

Hear The Comet Is Coming’s new track, “Summon The Fire”

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Psychedelic electronic jazz trio The Comet Is Coming – led by Sons Of Kemet’s Shabaka Hutchings – have announced that their new album Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery will be released by Impulse! on March 15.

Hear a track from it, “Summon The Fire”, below:

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Talking to Uncut, Hutchings describes his own playing on the album as “a mix between simple, repetitive phrases and total freakouts”. Bandmate Dan Leavers AKA Danalogue The Conqueror adds that “the unifying idea behind this album is one of interconnectivity between people, about the human spirit prevailing against adversity.”

You can read much more from The Comet Is Coming in the new issue of Uncut, in shops now or available to buy online by clicking here.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

Paul Weller announces new live album and concert film

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Paul Weller has announced a new live album and concert film, recorded at one on his orchestral shows in October last year.

Other Aspects: Live At The Royal Festival Hall
will be released as a CD/DVD and LP/DVD package on March 8, as well as in select cinemas on February 28.

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Watch a trailer for the film below:

For the full list of cinemas participating in the February 28 screening of
Other Aspects: Live At The Royal Festival Hall
, go here. Each screening will include a short film featuring never-before-seen studio / rehearsal footage exclusive to the cinema events.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

Leonard Cohen: “He was still looking for something else – looking for better”

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The new issue of Uncut – in shops tomorrow (January 17) but available to order online now by clicking here – explores the untold stories behind Leonard Cohen’s greatest albums, as recounted by his closest collaborators.

One of those albums is You Want It Darker: Cohen’s swansong, released 19 days before his death on November 7, 2016, aged 82. Though gravely ill, he’s working until the very end.

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PAT LEONARD [PRODUCER/CO-WRITER/PROGRAMMING]: He was getting really ill. The creative process was fairly normal up to a point, then it got to where he couldn’t do every day, maybe just a couple of days, and even those days were truncated. It got tough. Some days I’d come and all he could do was talk. That lyric, “You Want I Darker”, I certainly know where that came from – yet sometimes we would laugh ourselves sick about just about anything. There was a very light heart there. He said a couple of times how lucky he felt. I have recordings of things we did that were as real and raw as anything I’d ever heard. Live versions with Bill Bottrell playing guitar, me playing piano and bass, and Leonard singing. They were messy and noisy. By then, he wasn’t really playing guitar. We did a couple of things where he would play his ‘chop’. You know how musicians talk about having ‘chops’? He had that fingerpicking pattern that he did, and he called it his ‘chop’. He only had one!

ANJANI THOMAS: I remember Pat Leonard playing me this amazing track for “Treaty”. It was so beautiful, I cried when I heard it. Pat loved it, I loved it. I looked at Len and he said, “You know what, it’s too beautiful.” He said the music was too obviously moving, almost manipulative. Too emotional, too poignant. Too much! It was distracting him. He wanted to control it, he wanted some edge.

LEONARD: Ironically, that early version is the one that’s on the record. We used to talk about ‘Treaty: The Movie’, as I did no less than 25 versions of “Treaty”. There were some really interesting ones – the last one was so interesting, I think it pushed him back to the first one. In fact, his request for me to do a little string arrangement of it was an homage to how much effort went into the damn song. He said to me that ultimately it was about the line that he didn’t have. There were many variations of the chorus, and until he found what he wanted it to say, we just kept trying it.

SHARON ROBINSON [VOCALS]: He knew he was getting sick. It was a quiet time. We’d get together to talk about life and death. Leonard lost a lot of friends during that period – he was almost in a continuous state of mourning, but he was intent on putting out another record and book, as he knew his time was limited. He wanted me to be involved, so he gave me the lyric “On The Level”, and really liked what I wrote. I did the vocals in my own studio, but he played the whole record for me once it was finished, on his little boom box – which I think was the same boom box we worked with back in the ’80s!

LEONARD: At the end of the day, his son Adam finished it with him. There was some father/son stuff that I wasn’t about to get in the middle of. You could see that he couldn’t keep going much longer, it was just a matter of when something was going to happen. I don’t like the ‘tragic end’ thing, because it wasn’t. This was a beautiful man who died in his home with his children around him, and I guarantee the day he passed away he was working. He never stopped. No matter what, he worked. I know he was still looking for something else – looking for better.

You can read much more about Cohen’s greatest albums – as well as a peek into the vaults and the lowdown on new documentary Marianne & Leonard: Words Of Love – in the new issue of Uncut, on sale tomorrow.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

King Crimson announce 50th anniversary tour, documentary, box sets

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50 years ago this week, King Crimson had their first rehearsal in the basement of a cafe on London’s Fulham Palace Road. To mark this occasion – and the release of their Top 5 album In The Court Of The Crimson King later in 1969 – the band have announced a glut of activity, including a 50-date world tour.

The full itinerary is still coming together, but you can view the list of dates announced so far here. It includes three nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall in June.

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In February they’ll release King Crimson 1972–74 – the second boxed set of 6LPs, from Larks’ Tongues In Aspic to the expanded USA, on 200 gram vinyl.

That will be followed in May by Heaven And Earth – a multi-disc CD/DVD-a/Blu-Ray set covering the period from the late 1990s–2008, completing the availability of all King Crimson studio albums in 5.1 multi-channel audio.

And to coincide with the anniversary of King Crimson’s debut album in October, there’ll be a limited edition expanded boxed set of In The Court Of The Crimson King including all the live recordings, the expanded multitrack 1969 recording sessions, as well as a new 5.1 remix of the album and a coffee table book.

Starting this week, King Crimson will also be digitally releasing 50 rare or unusual tracks from the archives, along with commentary from King Crimson manager and producer David Singleton. Download the first track, a radio edit of “21st Century Schizoid Man”, here.

Finally, a documentary on the band called Cosmic F*Kc, directed by Toby Amies, will be released late in 2019 along with accompanying soundtrack. For full details of all these releases – and more! – visit King Crimson’s official site.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin and Royal Trux.

Hear Karen O and Danger Mouse’s new single, “Woman”

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Following the release of the title track last year, Karen O and Danger Mouse have issued another single from their upcoming collaborative album Lux Prima.

Hear “Woman” below:

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“Woman came like a bolt out of the blue when we were in the studio,” says Karen O. “We did a first pass where I was blurting unintelligible words and Danger Mouse and I were like, ‘Dang! That was intense.’ The atmosphere was volatile with it being just after the election. A lot of people felt helpless like you do when you’re a scared kid looking for assurance that everything is gonna be alright. I like to write songs that anyone can relate to but this one felt especially for the inner child in me that needed the bullies out there to know you don’t f*ck with me. I’m a woman now and I’ll protect that inner girl in me from hell and high water.”

Lux Prima will be released by BMG on March 15. Check out the tracklisting below:

1. Lux Prima
2. Ministry
3. Turn The Light
4. Woman
5. Redeemer
6. Drown
7. Leopard’s Tongue
8. Reveries
9. Nox Lumina

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with New Order on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Pete Shelley (RIP), our massive 2019 albums preview, Sharon Van Etten, Mark Knopfler, Paul Simonon, John Martyn, Steve Gunn and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Bruce Springsteen, William Tyler and the Dream Syndicate.

Introducing the new Uncut

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Leonard Cohen has admirers in some unexpected places. Over the Christmas break, Prince Charles selected “Take This Waltz” on a special edition of Radio 3’s programme, Private Passions. “I’ve always loved Leonard Cohen’s voice and his whole approach to the way he sang,” said the heir to the throne. “He was obviously incredibly sophisticated in the way he sang, hut also wrote. I find it very moving.”

Cohen, of course, lived for a short while in London during his mid-twenties; though I’m not certain he ever publicly aired his views of the British monarchy. Nevertheless, Charles’ reminds us of the enduring qualities of Cohen’s music; his abundant gifts as a writer and singer. In the new issue of Uncut – in shops now but available to buy online now – our investigation of Cohen’s musical history – a study of his key albums, illuminated by his principal collaborators – reveals an artist whose work has gained a kind of mythic potency. But what about the craft and art behind this process? Graeme Thomson discovers a remarkable body of work shepherded into existence as much my Cohen’s elusive genius as by the finest caviar, bottles of Château Lafite and glamorous romantic liaisons. We hear tales of a “scruffy dude in his ubiquitous safari suit” whose songs were “threaded with love and loss”. We also preview a revelatory new documentary, Marianne And Leonard: Words Of Love, which premiers in Sundance later this month.

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There’s more, though. The Yardbirds recall their sensational breakthrough – and how it led to the departure of their then-guitarist, Eric Clapton (“I wonder what became of him?”, asks one former member). We relive the many peaks of Bob Marley’s career through his long-serving backing band, The Wailers. David Bowie’s “long apprenticeship” is explored, we introduce Jessica Pratt to the Uncut universe and catch up with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner at home in Nashville. Michael Rother takes us inside Neu! while Crass share some hair-raising stories involving the KGB, Margaret Thatcher and the murky world of teenage magazine giveaways.

If that wasn’t enough, we discover what’s next for The Pretty Things, Sean Ono Lennon explains why he’s not an occultist (he just likes the fab gear), The Long Ryders return and Shabaka Hutchings unveils new plans for his astonishing space-jazz trio, The Comet Is Coming.

There’s new albums from Cass McCombs, Julia Jacklin, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, Royal Trux, The Specials and Sleaford Mods and buried treasures from Japan (ambient New Age), Britain (landfill glam) and America (Phil Alvin).

As ever, let us know what you think.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Leonard Cohen on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Yardbirds, Lambchop, Jessica Pratt, Crass, Neu!, Sean Ono Lennon and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin, Royal Trux.

March 2019

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Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley, Lambchop, Neu! and Jessica Pratt all feature in the new issue of Uncut, out on January 17.

The issue is available to buy online by clicking here.

Cohen is on the cover, and inside we celebrate the key albums in his remarkable career, with help from the Field Commander’s closest confidants. As well as stunning songs, there’s the finest caviar, bottles of Château Lafite and glamorous romantic liaisons: “No matter what, he was still looking for something else,” says one collaborator. “Looking for better.”

The Wailers take us through their incredible work with Bob Marley, from Catch A Fire to Uprising. “I and I were in deep meditation of the works we were doing,” says Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett. “We rehearsed, meditated, prepared ourselves every day to record, making sure we never missed a beat.”

Uncut heads to Nashville to see Lambchop‘s Kurt Wagner, returning with a new album and still exploring brave new worlds.

Meanwhile, Michael Rother, back with a boxset of his solo work, tells the story of Neu!, from his early days in Kraftwerk to the duo’s 21st-century revival.

Jessica Pratt welcomes us into her Los Angeles home to reveal how she created her new record, Quiet Signs – there are tales of loss, resilience and the redemptive power of John Cassavettes’ films. “I think I’d lost faith in myself,” she reveals.

Four decades on from their explosive debut, Crass recall Thatcher’s Britain, class war and terrifying run-ins with the KGB. “We didn’t tell people how to behave,” they say, “we told people to look at themselves and decide how they want to behave.”

Elsewhere, the Yardbirds explain how they made “For Your Love” and alienated Eric Clapton in the process, while Panda Bear reveals eight albums that shaped his life and music.

Sean Ono Lennon answers your questions, while we meet The Comet Is Coming, chat to The Long Ryders and Bodega, and check out Van Morrison and David Gilmour at the Pretty Things‘ grand farewell.

In our expansive reviews section, we look at new albums from Cass McCombs, Royal Trux, The Specials, Julia Jacklin, Sleaford Mods and more, archival releases from David Sylvian, Django Reinhardt, The Byrds, Phil Alvin and the beautiful losers of junkshop glam.

Live, we catch The War On Drugs, while Tracey Thorn and EMI feature on our books page; in our films, DVD and TV section, you can find reviews on Vice, Green Book, Suede: The Insatiable Ones, Boy Erased and more.

Last but not least, the issue comes with a free CD, Tower Of Songs, collecting 15 tracks of the month’s best new music – Cass McCombs, Sleaford Mods, Julia Jacklin, The Lemonheads, Royal Trux, Michael Chapman, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Jessica Pratt, Rustin Man, The Long Ryders and more.

The new Uncut, dated March 2019, is out on January 17.

Hear a previously unreleased Townes Van Zandt song, “All I Need”

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TVZ Records and Fat Possum have announced an album of unreleased Townes Van Zandt recordings.

Sky Blue will be released on March 17, on what would have been Van Zandt’s 75th birthday.

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Recorded in early 1973 at Bill Hedgepeth’s home studio in Atlanta, Sky Blue includes raw versions of well-known songs “Pancho & Lefty” and “Rex’s Blues” as well as two that have never been heard before. Hear one of those, “All I Need”, below:

Check out the full tracklisting for Sky Blue below and pre-order the album here.

1. All I Need
2. Rex’s Blues
3. Hills of Roane County
4. Sky Blue
5. Forever For Always For Certain
6. Blue Ridge Mountain Blues (Smoky Version)
7. Pancho and Lefty
8. Snake Song
9. Silver Ships of Andilar
10. Dream Spider
11. The Last Thing On My Mind

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with New Order on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Pete Shelley (RIP), our massive 2019 albums preview, Sharon Van Etten, Mark Knopfler, Paul Simonon, John Martyn, Steve Gunn and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Bruce Springsteen, William Tyler and the Dream Syndicate.

The Who to release a new album in 2019

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The Who have confirmed that they are putting the finishing touches to an as-yet-untitled new album, due for release later this year.

Commenting on what can be expected from the band’s first new album in 13 years, Pete Townshend says: “Dark ballads, heavy rock stuff, experimental electronica, sampled stuff and Who-ish tunes that began with a guitar that goes yanga-dang”.

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Talking in more detail about the genesis of the album to Rolling Stone, Townshend reveals: “I said I was not going to sign any contracts [to tour] unless we have new material. This has nothing to do with wanting a hit album. It has nothing to do with the fact that The Who need a new album. It’s purely personal. It’s about my pride, my sense of self-worth and self-dignity as a writer.”

Townshend goes on say that he’s received an amazing response to his new songs from everyone… except Roger Daltrey. “I had to bully him to respond and then it wasn’t the response I wanted. He just blathered for a while and in the end I really stamped my foot and said, ‘Roger, I don’t care if you really like this stuff. You have to sing it. You’ll like it in 10 years time.’”

The Who have announced that they will support the album with a tour of the USA, backed by a full orchestra. Dates are yet to be announced but venues are set to include Madison Square Garden and The Hollywood Bowl.

Says Daltrey: “Be aware Who fans! That just because it’s The Who with an Orchestra, in no way will it compromise the way Pete and I deliver our music. This will be full throttle Who with horns and bells on.”

Details of European shows will be announced soon.

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The March 2019 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with New Order on the cover. Inside, you’ll find Pete Shelley (RIP), our massive 2019 albums preview, Sharon Van Etten, Mark Knopfler, Paul Simonon, John Martyn, Steve Gunn and much more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including Bruce Springsteen, William Tyler and the Dream Syndicate.