The Strokes – The New Abnormal

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It’s hard to pinpoint where precisely it occurred on his slide from bad to worse, but somewhere between the publication of Lizzy Goodman’s US rock scene oral history Meet Me In The Bathroom and his facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, Ryan Adams decided to air his feelings on Twitter about his sometime contemporaries The Strokes.

Apparently inspired by Liam Gallagher’s unmediated volleys in the medium, Adams described Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr as a “horrible” songwriter (among the many compelling narratives in the Goodman book had been one of Adams introducing Hammond to heroin). He also observed singer Julian Casablancas as being “strung out on lasagne”. He struck a more depressing note when he observed that while his own albums were reliably making the Top 5 every time, those by “the guy in the Hawaiian shirt and the feather earring” (namely, Casablancas) were not so lucky.

It’s hard to imagine a character as hip and inscrutable as Julian Casablancas allowing such remarks to register on his dial, but it’s worth noting that The Strokes have not gone out of their way to make themselves immune from such criticism. At the band’s arguable peak in 2006, Casablancas departed for an extracurricular career that became increasingly diverse: solo album, sneaker ad campaign, Daft Punk collaboration, an absurdist post-hipster band called The Voidz.

The Strokes? According to a recent stage announcement, The Strokes “took the 2010s off”. Which is possibly news to the fans who bought their 2011 album Angles. There was an album in 2013 too, and an EP in 2016, and shows have been played. But the announcement confirmed what we gathered at the time: this was not a band exactly putting their back into it. Now, however, they’re back, and steps are taken here to remind us via studio banter (“The click was always in you, Fab…”) and a casual attitude to ending songs, that this remains a band of brothers in a room together, doing what they do best.

It’s a slightly illusory business. Acting as ever like a personal trainer for bloated creativity, producer Rick Rubin is on hand to perform his patented ritual of past-life regression, stripping away the layers to arrive at an essence. Duly, on several songs here Rubin helps peel back the years to reveal an energy and a passion that reminds you just how powerful was the band’s initial proposition. Opener “The Adults Are Talking” is a case in point, restoring the twin guitars of Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond to their patented new wave prog, while Casablancas rules the song with a wonderful falsetto.

In fine voice throughout, his songs aren’t far behind. His style ever to let a phrase carry a meaning beyond its weight, throughout he makes hooks in unlikely places (“I want new friends…” he sings on “Brooklyn Bridge To The Chorus”, “…but they don’t want me”). He retains undiminished his talent for wryly sketching the scene and then disappearing into The Strokes’ domain: the confusion of the night.

While there are familiar modes, the album also attempts to reconcile the band’s core sound with progressions in Casablancas’s musical interests since. “Eternal Summer” finds the band melding Clash-like stylistic fusions with their take on ’90s R&B. First track to be released, “At The Door”, meanwhile, is a synth epic designed to wrongfoot expectations, since it actively sounds, with its ’80s keyboard washes, like a Julian solo track. What drew us in here in the first place was the songs, however they were played, and this reminds you of the band’s intact talent. As the song gathers momentum, Casablancas draws a vignette of emotional brinkmanship: “Beg me not to go/Sinking like a stone/Use me like an oar/To get yourself to shore…” It’s a magnificent piece.

Rubin can help the band access their best qualities – the vocal melodies; the interlocking guitars; the irresistible momentum – but he and the band face unlikeable odds. As Oasis once were, the band are saddled with an unfairly huge expectation to provide the same jolt that they provided with their debut: giving shape to a time by force of musical charisma alone.

In this context, the album’s pacing reflects a slowing down towards realistic expectations. There’s a gentle drift from the jaunty (say “Bad Decisions”, a close cousin of Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself”) into the kind of mid-paced guitar brooding we find nearer the close with “Not The Same Anymore”. Here Casablancas adds the weight if not the wisdom of experience to the band’s nighttime patrols. “I fucked up…”

The best is saved for last. “Ode To The Mets” effortlessly recaptures the nonchalant accomplishment of the band’s finest moments: “I was bored with a guitar/I learned all your tricks/It wasn’t too hard.” A minute before the close, however, the band and the song change gear. As it moves to its end, a change of pace heralds as much a new era as it does a new section of the song. A stirring guitar riff begins as Casablancas sings the line, “The old times have been forgotten…”

Easier said than done, perhaps. But if you’re interested in the future of The Strokes as well as their past, it sounds like good news.

How Prince made his psychedelic classic, Around The World In A Day

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The new issue of Uncut – in shops now and available to order online by clicking here – features an in-depth exploration of the making of Prince’s 1985 album, Around The World In Day. Released just two weeks after the conclusion of his Purple Rain tour, it found Prince taking a creative left-turn into psychedelic pop, orchestral soul and Eastern exoticism. 35 years on, Prince’s inner circle divulge the secrets of this remarkable album to Graeme Thomson. Here’s an extract from that feature…

Here are all the ways you can continue reading Uncut safely during the lockdown

In May 1984, Prince installed the Revolution in a warehouse at 9025 Flying Cloud Drive in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie. A low wood-panelled building with a tin roof, he moved his operations there as a designated studio/rehearsal space and convened the band almost every day for several months. It was at Eden Prairie that much of Around The World… came together. Ostensibly they were rehearsing for the Purple Rain tour, but everything was on the table.

“We must have rehearsed for that tour for months, six days a week, from early afternoon until six or sometimes nine or ten in the evening,” says tour manager Alan Leeds. “Some days he would come in and rehearse the show at least once, sometimes two or three times. He wanted it embedded so nobody had to think about what to play next. Some days he might spend the whole afternoon on one song. Or he might come in with a new song. You never knew what to expect, you were never forewarned. All the rehearsals were recorded start to finish, he had hours and hours of tapes, and he would sit up all night listening and thinking about them. You would have no idea what to expect when he walked in the next day. It’s not like he had a script.”

“A lot of it was introducing new material and just jamming,” says Revolution bassist Mark Brown. “He would always be recording and he would get back to his studio and he knew how to take that energy and then build on it. That was the whole purpose of having a group. He wanted that live, real powerful energy that you cannot get as a solo musician in the studio. It’s hard to capture the energy when you play all the instruments yourself. You can’t duplicate that.”

The recording practices at Eden Prairie were rudimentary. “I had a console and a tape machine right there on the warehouse floor, with no separation between me and the band like you would normally have in the studio – it was just open air!” says Prince’s engineer Susan Rogers. “He liked working there. It was seat-of-the-pants, home-school mentality, in a warehouse with a tin ceiling over our heads.”

The variation in sound quality is obvious on Around The World…. Recorded at the warehouse with the band, “Paisley Park” is relatively rough and ready compared to the superior studio taping of “Pop Life”. For Prince, such niceties were secondary to the magic of a particular performance. “He wasn’t a stickler for audio fidelity,” says Rogers. “That was an important lesson I learned from him. He recognised that no-one is going into the record store to look for sounds; they are going there to look for music. What he needed from his audio equipment and the people who operated it was to just keep the signal flowing – don’t let anything break down or make him stop. The answer always had to be ‘Yes’, then you had to figure out how to get it done!”

You can read much more about Prince and Around The World In A Day in the new issue of Uncut, out now – click here for more details about the rest of the magazine.

Hear Bon Iver’s new single, “PDLIF (Please Don’t Live In Fear)”

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Bon Iver have released a new single called “PDLIF (Please Don’t Live In Fear)”, in order to support health workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

100% of proceeds from “PDLIF” will go to Direct Relief, the humanitarian aid organisation coordinating with public health authorities, nonprofits, and businesses to deliver personal protective equipment to responders across the US and the world.

Listen below:

“PDLIF” was produced by Justin Vernon, Jim-E Stack, and BJ Burton. The song stems from a sample of Alabaster dePlume’s “Visit Croatia” and additional musicians include Kacy Hill (vocals), Joseph K Rainey, Sr. (vocals), Eli Teplin (piano), Devin Hoffman (bass), and Rob Moose (string arrangements, piano).

Watch the first clip of new David Bowie film, Stardust

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A new film drama about David Bowie’s early-’70s period, as he made the transformation into Ziggy Stardust, is set for release later this year.

Stardust was directed by Gabriel Range and stars actor and singer-songwriter Johnny Flynn as Bowie. It focuses specifically on Bowie’s early 1971 press trip across America, accompanied by Mercury Records publicist Ron Oberman. Without a visa or musician’s union paperwork, he was unable to perform songs from the recently released The Man Who Sold The World album, and was greeted with bemusement and sometimes ridicule. But as the film’s press material states, “he found some of the ideas and influences that he would meld together to create his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.”

Watch the first clip, featuring Marc Maron as Oberman, below:

Says Range, “I set out to make a film about what makes someone become an artist; what actually drives them to make their art. That someone is David Bowie, a man we’re used to thinking about as the star he became, or as one of his alter egos: Ziggy Stardust; Aladdin Zane; The Thin White Duke. Someone I only ever saw at a great distance, behind a mask; a godlike, alien presence. Even in his perfectly choreographed death, he didn’t seem like a regular human being.

“The film is very much grounded in fact but it’s also a work of speculative fiction. We took license with some of the relationships and the film has a slightly heightened, playful tone. But I hope it is true to the spirit of where David was at around that point in his life.”

Hear another new Bob Dylan song, “I Contain Multitudes”

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Three weeks after the surprising the world with “Murder Most Foul”, Bob Dylan has released another new single entitled “I Contain Multitudes”.

As with “Murder Most Foul”, there are no details of when, where or with whom it was recorded, but there are plenty of wryly intriguing lyrics to get your teeth into.

Over a similarly dreamlike backing, Dylan namedrops everyone from William Blake to Beethoven, Indiana Jones to “them British bad boys, The Rolling Stones“. Listen below:

The release only adds to speculation that Bob Dylan is poised to unleash his first album of new material since 2012’s Tempest. You can read more about “Murder Most Foul” and what this tells us about Dylan’s current state of mind in the new issue of Uncut, on sale now.

Watch a video for The Magnetic Fields’ new single, “(I Want to Join A) Biker Gang”

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The Magnetic Fields’ new album Quickies – so named because its 28 songs are all less than 155 seconds long – will be released by Nonesuch in May.

Watch a video for new single “(I Want to Join A) Biker Gang” below:

The Magnetic Fields’ mainman Stephin Merritt explains the concept of Quickies thus: “I’ve been reading a lot of very short fiction, and I enjoyed writing 101 Two-Letter Words, the poetry book about the shortest words you can use in Scrabble. And I’ve been listening to a lot of French baroque harpsichord music. Harpsichord doesn’t lend itself to languor. So I’ve been thinking about one instrument at a time, playing for about a minute or so and then stopping, and I’ve been thinking of narratives that are only a few lines long.

“Also, I had been using a lot of small notebooks, so when I reach the bottom of the page, I’ve only gone a short way. Now that I’m working on a different album, I’m enforcing a large notebook rule so that I don’t do Quickies twice in a row.”

Quickies is released digitally on May 15 and as a CD or 5×7″ box set on May 30.

“(I Want to Join A) Biker Gang” also features on the free CD that comes with the new issue of Uncut. The magazine itself contains a review of Quickies along with more Merritt chat, and you can order your copy right here.

Sea Change festival moves online

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Devon’s Sea Change festival, originally due to take place at the end of May, was an early casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, organisers have rallied to create an online version of the festival for the weekend of April 25-26.

It will include performances from Yann Tiersen, Shirley Collins (in collaboration with writer Brian Catling and sound artist Matthew Shaw), Billy Bragg, Porridge Radio, Katie Von Schleicher, Nap Eyes, Gordi, Mystery Jets, Richard Norris and more to be announced.

Tim Burgess will host a special edition of his popular Twitter listening parties, while there will also be readings from authors Jon Savage, David Keenan and Rob Chapman.

Everything is free to watch via the Sea Change official site and social media channels.

Watch David Gilmour play a new song with his daughter Romany

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Last week, Polly Samson, David Gilmour and family hosted the second of their livestreams to launch Samson’s new novel, A Theatre For Dreamers.

It opened with Gilmour debuting a new piece of music written for and about the novel, accompanied by his daughter Romany on the harp. He also played two more Leonard Cohen covers, “Fingerprints” (at 13:57) and “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” (30:33). Watch the whole thing below:

You can watch the first livestream and find out how to buy tickets for Samson and Gilmour’s September ‘words and music’ tour here.

Uncut – June 2020

Prince, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Talking Heads, The National, Jason Isbell, The Faces, Laura Marling and Brigid Mae Power all feature in the new Uncut, dated June 2020 and available to buy online and in UK shops from April 16. As always, the issue comes with a terrific free CD of the month’s best music.

PRINCE: 35 years on, his inner circle divulge the secrets of Around The World In A Day, the remarkable follow-up to Purple Rain that took in psychedelic pop, orchestral soul and Eastern exoticism. “You never knew what to expect,” recalls one eyewitness, “you were never forewarned.”

OUR FREE CD! High Life: 15 tracks of the month’s best music, including William Tyler, Margo Price, The Psychedelic Furs, Mark Lanegan, The Dream Syndicate, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Woods, Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network and more

This issue of Uncut is available to buy by clicking here – with FREE delivery to the UK and reduced delivery charges for the rest of the world.

Inside the issue, you’ll find:

NEIL YOUNG: The legendary Homegrown album is finally getting a release, and we review it at length as our Archive Album Of The Month, while producer Elliot Mazer recalls the sessions

JASON ISBELL: As he prepares to release his new album, Reunions, the singer-songwriter invites Uncut to his Tennessee barn to discuss the magic of Muscle Shoals, the ghosts of his past and his tenure in the Drive-By Truckers: “Things are very different from those early days…”

THE FACES: Raise a brandy and coke, as Kenney Jones tells the inside story of the group, 50 years on. Get ready for stories about meeting Muhammad Ali, high times at Goose Lake Festival and their very first recording session: “Whenever we came together we had such a great time!”

THE NATIONAL: The making of “Bloodbuzz Ohio”

LAURA MARLING: We review the stunning new album from the London-based singer-songwriter, and talk to her about new personas, Lump and the value of directness

STEVE HOWE: The prog-rock virtuoso talks Yes, Lou Reed, The Libertines and psychedelic love-ins

SKIP SPENCE: We look back on the troubled life and times of the ultimate outsider hero, and his psychedelic masterpiece Oar

THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS: Album by album with the returning Butler brothers

BRIGID MAE POWER: The singer-songwriter tells us how she made the journey from playing in churches and underground car parks in Galway to creating her new album Head Above The Water

TALKING HEADS: A fascinating 1980 archive piece from NME finds the quartet discussing Brian Eno, African music and their expanded lineup

In our expansive reviews section, we take a look at new records from Laura MarlingSparksBrigid Dawson & The Mothers NetworkSteve Earle & The Dukes, WoodsThe Magnetic Fields and more, and archival releases from Neil YoungRobbie BashoHurray For The Riff RaffEdikanfoThe FallTerry Hall, Jim Capaldi and others. We catch Supergrass, Modern Nature and Aoife Nessa Frances live; among the films, DVDs and TV programmes reviewed are Moffie, The Eddy and Laurel Canyon: A Place In Time; while in books there’s Mark Lanegan’s memoir and a new tome on Malcolm McLaren.

In our front section, meanwhile, we get a sneak peek at Spike Jonze’s new Beastie Boys photobook, hear about lockdown livestreaming from Waxahatchee, Brendan Benson and Basia Bulat, catch up with Diamanda Galas and spiritual jazz saxophonist Gary Bartz, and meet Nap Eyes. There’s also an in-depth examination of Bob Dylan’s surprise new song, “Murder Most Foul”, while Sonic Boom reveals the music that has shaped his life.

You can still pick up a copy of Uncut in the usual places, where open. But otherwise, readers all over the world can order a copy from here.

For more information on all the different ways to keep reading Uncut during lockdown, click here.

Introducing the new issue of Uncut: Prince, Faces, Neil Young and more

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In the shadow of coronavirus lockdown, what will become of 2020’s cultural record? One of the positives to draw from the current crisis is the way many artists have successfully adapted to their circumstances. On page 7 of this issue we talk to musicians who have been livestreaming during the lockdown, while on page 8, brace yourselves for our deep dive into Bob Dylan’s amazing “Murder Most Foul”, released by Dylan with the accompanying instruction to “stay safe”. Being an avid Uncut reader, you’ll have hopefully also enjoyed Neil Young’s Fireside Sessions, Sonic Youth’s cache of live archive recordings and Tim Burgess’ Twitter listening parties among the myriad of other inventive online ways to beat the lockdown blues.

While we’re all currently dispersed as far afield as Edinburgh, Redcar, Brighton and Portugal, we’d like to reassure you that we will continue to be publishing Uncut, as planned, every month – bringing you our regular mix of exclusive interviews, definitive reviews and deep dives into the best old and new music. You’ll still find us in newsagents and supermarkets – but in case you can’t leave the house, here are some ways you can continue to get your fix of Uncut.

You can subscribe to the magazine here and have all future issues delivered direct to your home. Currently we are offering a huge 65% discount on the usual subscription price – all you need to do is enter this code: UCWEBES20

You can order a copy of the latest issue, with free delivery to all UK addresses (and reduced P&P worldwide). You’ll also be able to pick up copies of recent issues that you may have missed.

Uncut is also available as a digital magazine. You can purchase individual issues or take advantage of our latest subscription offers – just as you can with the physical magazine.

Which brings me to this month’s issue. Graeme Thomson digs into the secret history of Prince’s all-singing, all-dancing Around The World In A Day spectacular, Kenney Jones’ pours a Brandy and coke as we celebrate 50 years of the Faces, Jason Isbell takes us out to his barn, Yes’ Steve Howe answers your questions, The National revisit a high (violet) watermark, the Psychedelic Furs relive their career highs, we meet Brigid Mae Power, celebrate Skip Spence and find our what’s what for Talking Heads in 1980.

There’s also Neil Young’s Homegrown – 45 years late – plus a wealth of terrific new albums from Brigid Dawson, Laura Marling, Woods, Steve Earle, Magnetic Fields and The Dream Syndicate.

At the risk of sounding cliched, it is comforting to find so much good new music coming out during these challenging times. Looking ahead, there’s great new albums from Courtney Marie Andrews, Sonic Boom, Rolling Blackouts, Nicole Atkins among many others to soothe our spirits through the next few months.

See you here again, same time next month.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner

The 5th Uncut New Music Playlist Of 2020

Hope you’re all keeping well and staying sane in these strange times. Thankfully, there’s still plenty of excellent new music around to lift our spirits. Rest assured that we’re continuing with our mission to collate and review the best of it for you, throughout the lockdown period – for information on how to keep reading Uncut, click here.

For now, here are the tunes that we’ve been enjoying while putting together the new issue, due out next week (April 16). New Aphex Twin! Angel Olsen goes disco! The return of Aksak Maboul! Plus Jeff Tweedy paying tribute to the late, great John Prine

WOODS
“Strange To Explain”

(Woodsist)

PHOEBE BRIDGERS
“Kyoto”

(Dead Oceans)

JEFF TWEEDY
“Please Don’t Bury Me”

APHEX TWIN
“Tha2 [world scam mix]”

KATE NV
“Sayonara”

(RVNG Intl)

AKSAK MABOUL
“Tout A Une Fin/Everything Ends”

(Crammed Discs)

THE MAGNETIC FIELDS
“Kraftwerk In A Blackout”

(Nonesuch)

ONCE & FUTURE BAND
“Andromeda”

(Castle Face)

KAHIL EL’ZABAR’S SPIRIT GROOVE
“Songs Of Myself”

(Spiritmuse)

ANDREW TUTTLE
“Sun At 5 In 4161”

(Room40)

DAVE MILLER
“Fellow Man”

(Tompkins Square)

SNOWGOOSE
“The Making Of You”

(Glass Modern)

GREG FOAT
“Nikinakinu”

(Strut)

ANGEL OLSEN
“All Mirrors (Johnny Jewel Remix)”

(Jagjaguwar)

FLOATING POINTS
“Bias (Mayfield Depot Mix)”

(Ninja Tune)

Radiohead – The Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide

So very special… The deluxe, 148-page, updated edition of the Ultimate Music Guide to Radiohead. In-depth reviews of every Radiohead album and every solo work. Revealing archive interviews. Their greatest 30 songs, as chosen by their collaborators and peers. It’s the complete story of the world’s most adventurous band!

Buy it now by clicking here!

Recording Is The Trip: The Karen Dalton Archives Box Set

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Sent out to support Santana on a 1971 European tour, Karen Dalton may have realised that mainstream success was never going to be her thing. Having spent the previous decade playing for change in the folk clubs of Boulder, Colorado and Greenwich Village, the Texan-born singer with a voice like a battered trumpet had never been much inclined to perform for audiences who weren’t prepared to listen. Faced with impatient crowds, tight schedules, less-than-rapt attention, she struggled.

“She had a stellar backup band and great support, but she was difficult to travel with,” remembered Peter Stampfel from East Village dirtbags the Holy Modal Rounders. “By the end of the tour, she had missed at least one date by simply refusing to come out of her dressing room.”

A vintage press advert included in a booklet accompanying this collection of the freewheelin’ singer’s early recordings states “for 10 years, Karen Dalton has been trying hard not to be famous”. In practice, being overlooked came rather naturally. While hep-cat friends like Fred Neil and Tim Hardin became recording artists and successful songwriters, the striking but surly Dalton struggled to carve out a niche, lacking the showbiz chops of Judy Collins, the righteous verve of Joan Baez or the down-home authenticity of Hedy West. Her supernatural ability to warp songs to her own bleak sensibility remained a folk-circuit secret until Neil (the man of the moment following the success of “Everybody’s Talking”) persuaded Capitol to release 1969’s It’s So Hard To Know Who’s Going To Love You The Best. However, Dalton’s recording career ended abruptly with 1971’s In My Own Time, nerves, despair, heroin and alcohol confining her to the margins. She died of an Aids-related illness in 1993, long before Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom got the chance to sing her praises.

How much she would have welcomed that acclaim is a moot point. Listening back to the two discs of Dalton performing at the Attic club in Boulder in October 1962 (recorded by her friend Joe Loop and first released as Cotton Eyed Joe in 2007), she doesn’t show any burning need for approval. She begins without a word of introduction with a six-minute take of “It’s Alright”, transforming Ray Charles’ soulful blues into a folksy death march. Hillbilly hoe-down “Cotton Eyed Joe” is stretched out into a languid, 12-string ballad, with Fred Neil’s anti-war “Red Are The Flowers” reduced to a similar crawling pace to allow Dalton to stretch her extraordinary, haunted howl around it.

Some attributed Dalton’s unnatural ability to insinuate herself into these folk and blues songs to her Cherokee roots and hardscrabble upbringing in Oklahoma. It’s a myth her daughter, Abralyn Baird, has been keen to debunk. Dalton was no hayseed ingénue; she went to college, was well-read and, as for her dirt-poor roots, Baird said, “Her dad was a respected welder. Her mother was a nurse. Not terribly Grapes Of Wrath.”

Her feel for the material might be more down to a vampire’s nose for blood, a spider’s eye for dark places. At the Attic, she luxuriates in the gloom of Leroy Carr’s “In The Evening” and Lead Belly’s “Good Morning Blues”, and sings Bessie Smith favourite “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down And Out” with a hard-won cynicism entirely unfitting
for a woman of 24.

Tellingly, the trad-arr “Katy Cruel” was her signature tune; she played it live at the Attic, and on the set of 1963 home recordings here (previously released as Green Rocky Road) then recorded it on In My Own Time. A bad penny’s lament, it summed up the “roving jewel”’s uneasy relationship with the straight world; twice married and twice a mother before she turned 20, Dalton felt doors had been slammed in her face, and that sense of injustice burns as she sings, “When I first came to town they gave me drinks aplenty/Now they’ve changed their tune and hand me the bottles empty.”

Her attitude to outsiders was hostile, suspicious (“My mother was the kind of person who would scream at bank tellers,” Baird remembered). Let loose in her own space, however, she came alive. Taped at her flat in Boulder, her home-grown “Green Rocky Road” – Dalton dubbing on banjo as well as 12-string – is a gently joyous, jazz-age oddity. “Ribbon Bow” is transformed into a proto-Cure scowl, while she swells the traditional “Nottingham Town” to almost 13 minutes, medieval murk morphing into raga enlightenment somewhere along the way.

Dalton ultimately moulded her style to fit her producers’ vision on her studio LPs, but these recordings are pleasingly unfettered, and so informal that the phone rings in the background at one point. However, if the sound can be cutesy quaint, there’s no disguising that the manner in which Dalton transforms coffee-shop favourites into work that – for all of its ramshackle construction – has an Ingmar Bergman existential heft.

Ahead of the game in the age of Beatlemania, these unvarnished pieces may well catch Dalton at her peak. In the years ahead, she wrote songs but didn’t record them, and never expanded far beyond the repertoire she was playing at the Attic (her two LPs, and another home-recorded collection, 1966, feature much of the same material). Weaving through Santana’s gear to play her 30-minute slots in 1971 to a bunch of teenage stoners, the 30-something Dalton can only reasonably have concluded that her time to shine had long since passed. Listening to this collection, though, her possibilities still seem endless.

Swamp Dogg – Sorry You Couldn’t Make It

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In 1970, a songwriter from Virginia called Jerry Williams, along with his friend Gary US Bonds, wrote a heart-wrenching number called “Don’t Take Her (She’s All I Got)”. It was initially recorded in January 1971 by the Southern soul singer Freddie North, whose punchy, horn-assisted version (produced by Williams) made the Billboard Top 40 and the R&B Top 10. A few months later, the outlaw country singer Johnny Paycheck picked up the song, added some Nashville vocal harmonies and a touch of bottleneck guitar, and took it to the top of the country and western charts. Before long it had been covered by everyone from Loretta Lynn to Conway Twitty, from Tanya Tucker to George Jones, and transformed into a country standard.

Jerry Williams went on to reinvent himself as Swamp Dogg, a charismatic, pint-sized 5’5” soul and funk howler, developing a cult reputation with much-sampled albums like Total Destruction To Your Mind and Cuffed, Collared And Tagged. But he always maintained a love and respect for country music. He’d already written “Just For You”, recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1966, and in 1981 he recorded his own country album for Mercury Records, which went unreleased for more than 20 years. “I had this idea of an outrageous black country singer, with a cape and shit,” he said. “Like Little Richard, but pure country. But I think the music industry decided that there was only room for one black country star, and they already had Charlie Pride.”

Now, 50 years after he wrote “She’s All I Got”, a 77-year-old Swamp Dogg is revisiting it as the centrepiece of his first proper country album. It’s a deliciously slow reading of the song, pitched perfectly between Southern soul and country, between white and black – a mix of choral Nashville harmonies, clipped wah-wah guitar and pedal steel guitar.

As on his 2018 album Love, Loss And Auto-Tune, Swamp Dogg is assisted by a younger generation of musicians – Ryan Olson from the Minneapolis synth-pop band Poliça serves as producer, while Justin Vernon – a member of Ryan Olson’s Midwest supergroup Gayngs as well as a serial collaborator with everyone from Kanye West to Bruce Hornsby – adds plenty of woozy guitar flourishes, and the core band features members of Poliça and Gayngs along with the gospel pianist Derrick Lee. Crucially, there are no drums – all the rhythm tracks are provided by a chugging Sly Stone/Shuggie Otis-style Maestro Rhythm Machine drumbox. But, where that new generation of musicians were consciously dragging Swamp Dogg into android-voiced 21st-century R&B on the last album, here they serve as Dan Auerbach/Rick Rubin-style authenticity merchants.

As Ray Charles observed in the early 1960s, country songs – with that schlocky, world-weary narrative of heartbreak and rejection – aren’t so dissimilar to a certain strain of confessional soul ballad, and Swamp Dogg is good at mining that intersection. Sometimes he draws heavily upon Southern rock: “Family Pain”, a 12-bar blues about a family turning to drugs to cope with austerity, features some twangy Duane Allman-style guitar from Jim Oblon, and Appalachian swing fiddle from Sam Amidon. Other times he dips into that fusion that you find on so many “country got soul” compilations, using touches of wah-wah guitars, as on the horn-heavy country funk of “Good, Better, Best”. Like so much of the album, it’s a track that flips the embittered, “my-woman-wronged-me” misogyny that’s common to so much country and soul music. “Ain’t no such thing as a bad woman,” croons Dogg. “All of them sweet as a Georgia peach/Even the worst woman is better than the best man.”

Along with a few star backing vocalists – Justin Vernon, Jenny Lewis, Channy Leaneagh from Poliça – there are a couple of duets with John Prine, a sardonic country star of a similar vintage and attitude to Dogg. “Memories” is a jaunty country shuffle subtly spiked with wobbly electronic effects, while “Please Let Me Go Round Again” is heartbroken ballad laced with a piano/organ combo that comes straight out of a Baptist church.

But the two standout tracks suggest that Swamp Dogg’s take on C&W doesn’t need any gimmicks. The heartbroken ballad “I’d Rather Be Your Used To Be” starts as a virtual retread of “Cold Cold Heart” before Swamp Dogg ramps up the Southern soul stylings, like Hank Williams slowly mutating into Otis Redding. Best of all is “Billy”, one of those almost parodically tragic country ballads, sung from the POV of a widower visiting his dead wife’s grave. It should, by rights, be ridiculous, but the lyrics are presented with such conviction that it becomes quietly devastating. Rather like Swamp Dogg himself.

Manic Street Preachers to play NHS benefit shows in Cardiff

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Manic Street Preachers have announced a pair of special concerts at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on December 4 and 5.

The first night will be a free show for NHS staff. For the second, tickets are on sale to the public with all profits going to NHS Wales charities.

The band said: “We wanted to do something to show our appreciation, love and respect for the NHS and its amazing brave workers. One free show and one fundraising show seemed the best way for us to express our deep gratitude for all their heroic work.”

Those eligible for free tickets for the December 4 show will be all NHS staff that work within NHS hospitals in the United Kingdom including, but not limited to, doctors, nurses, support workers, porters and cleaners. Tickets will be limited to two per person (eligible NHS staff members and one guest) and will be available from 7pm on Friday (April 10) from here.

Tickets for the December 5 show (limited to 4 per person) go on sale at 7pm on Friday (April 10) from here.

John Prine: “A cigarette that’s nine miles long – that’s my idea of what heaven’s like”

In this feature from Uncut’s May 2018 issue, Stephen Deusner heads to Arnold’s Country Kitchen in Nashville, where over a hearty lunch John Prine reflects on a singular career – pausing only to 
regale us with yarns involving Phil Spector, homemade cocktails and ancient Roman deities. What’s got him this far? “Dumb luck is what that is,” he says.

No sooner has he sat down, Prine begins talking about “God Only Knows”, a song on his new record, The Tree Of Forgiveness. It’s his first album of original songs since 2005’s Fair & Square, showcasing the wit and whimsy that have been his signature for nearly 50 years. “God Only Knows” is a rambling country-rock tune about spiritual karma, featuring Jason Isbell on guitar and Amanda Shires on fiddle. But Prine shares co-writing credit with an unexpected collaborator: Phil Spector. Scooting his chair closer to the table, Prine explains how he first met the producer.

One night in the late 1970s, Prine was invited up to Spector’s house in LA. “It was absolutely bonkers,” he says, punctuating his understatement with a chuckle. “He’s wearing a three-piece suit with two shoulder holsters, and he’s got two bodyguards following him everywhere – a short guy and a big guy who looked like Chewbacca. He’d just finished Death Of A Ladies’ Man. Me and Phil were shooting pool, and he puts it on 11. It was so loud, the balls were vibrating across the table.”

Trying to scare Prine’s manager, the new friends faked a brawl in the kitchen. “Phil starts shooting 
his gun up in the air, and I throw a chair against the refrigerator. My manager doesn’t even blink. After 
a couple hours of this foolishness, I grab my coat 
and call a cab. Phil’s walking me to the door, and he walks me by this piano. He sits down and hands me an electric guitar, and we wrote a song called ‘If You Don’t Want My Love’. Took 30 minutes.”

Prine recorded the song, a wounded country-blues number, for his 1978 album Bruised Orange. When 
he took the record over to Spector’s house, the two reconvened at the same piano and wrote half of “God Only Knows”. “When he was at the piano, that was the only time he was a normal person. When we sat down and were doing music, there was no bullshit.”

While he and Spector might seem like mismatched collaborators, Prine may have ventured a visit with the producer just to get a good story out of it. He loves spinning a good yarn, savouring the quirky details and the odd coincidences, the bizarre behaviour and the songs that so often come from it. Gleefully eccentric at 70 years old, Prine is a singular artist and 
a curious cult figure in Nashville, a guy who writes songs that are hilarious and heartbreaking, whimsical and world-weary, enigmatic and empathetic, full of feeling but never stooping to sentimentality. He was never part of the country establishment, even when likeminded songwriters like Shel Silverstein and 
Tom T Hall were enjoying wild success – but he 
was also never part of the outlaw movement despite his close association with Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.

And yet, Prine has proved highly influential to a new generation of roots and country songwriters, a name dropped by Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, even Justin Vernon, Conor Oberst and the Drive-By Truckers. It’s hard to imagine he doesn’t get the full Arnold’s treatment wherever he goes. “I’ve never met anyone who carries around that much cool,” says Dave Cobb, who produced The Tree Of Forgiveness as well as albums by so many of Prine’s acolytes. “He’s the guy you want to be when you grow up. He knows every restaurant in town and which special is which day at which place. He lives his life by meals. I don’t think there’s anything cooler than to live your life by where you eat that day.”

Rose Arnold returns with a tray of food that could feed a small invading army. She sets a full plate in front of him, along with a bowl of banana pudding that Prine didn’t order. “I don’t even have to ask for it. The woman who makes the desserts takes one and hides it for me.” For a few moments, he loses himself in preparations: stirring together his mashed potatoes and gravy, carefully slicing and buttering his cornbread, cutting up his steak.

A few minutes later he’s back in the conversation, talking about his early days on the Chicago folk circuit. He had been a mechanic in the army, stationed in Germany while his friends saw combat in Vietnam; their experiences, he said, inspired early songs like “Sam Stone” and “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore”. He worked as a mailman, writing songs on his delivery route and playing clubs like the Earl Of Old Town and the Fifth Peg in Chicago. It wasn’t long before he had a record contract with Atlantic and was making his first album. “They sent me down to Memphis with [Atlantic vice president] Arif Mardin to record with Elvis’s backing band. I had no idea I was gonna make a record. I was scared enough before I saw who I was actually recording with. I can’t even listen to that first record. I can hear the fear in my voice.”

He might be the only one. Released in 1971, when Prine was 25 years old, John Prine remains a fan favourite, widely regarded as his best effort and one 
of those impossibly confident debuts that introduced 
a distinctive artist with his idiosyncrasies already in place. It plays like a greatest hits rather than a studio album, and fans still shout the titles loudly at live shows: “Angel From Montgomery”, later a hit for Bonnie Raitt; “Hello In There”, covered by Bette Midler; “Donald And Lydia”, a favourite of Bob Dylan; “Illegal Smile”, one of the great weed anthems.

“I’m surprised they’re as strong as they are, especially some of the songs on my first record,” he says between mouthfuls. “I know less now than I did 45 years ago when I first started writing songs. I thought I knew about writing and now I don’t know nothing. I don’t know where it comes from or how it all fits together. All I know is that if I give it a chance, it’ll start rolling and things will start coming together.

“I could never teach a class on songwriting. I’d tell them to goof off and find a good hideout.”

And here’s where Prine gets serious. He knows he’s lucky to have been stationed overseas instead of serving in Vietnam. “All my buddies came home changed men,” he acknowledges. “They weren’t 
the same. I was trying to explain that to myself, and that’s how I wrote ‘Sam Stone’. I wasn’t a protestor or anything like that. I was trying to figure out why this crazy war was happening and what people were going through over there. We had been raised on John Wayne and World War II, but this was the opposite of all that. When you’re writing about the times, the times just keep moving on. If somebody would have asked me to bet on something, I would have thought stuff like ‘Sam Stone’ and ‘Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore’ wouldn’t have much to say. I thought those songs would last maybe five years. I didn’t see any reason why they wouldn’t just disappear. But they just got stronger over the years.”

Throughout the 1970s, Prine made a string of sharp singer-songwriter records whose songs never saw the pop charts but are still widely covered. And he toured almost constantly, making fans who remained loyal throughout his career. One of them was Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, the folk singer who learned from Woody Guthrie and taught Dylan, Phil Ochs, Prine and many others. Elliott sang on Bruised Orange and the two played shows together in 2016 and 2017. He remembers a show in Toronto that proves Prine’s music has interspecies appeal: “We did a show at the zoo. It was a warm day, and John was doing a soundcheck. The elephants were out in their play yard and they were dancing to the music. Then I came out and played, and those elephants just yawned and went back inside the elephant house. They were really turned on by John. They’re very smart animals.” 


“Being on the road with John is like what I think it would have been like to be on the road with Mark Twain,” says Jason Wilber, who has played guitar for Prine for more than 20 years. “Crazy stuff happens and he makes great, great stories out of it. The way he writes songs is also just the way he talks and thinks. He has a unique perspective on the world.”

The aforementioned pachyderms might love Prine, but the industry didn’t know what to do with him, especially as he moved away from the country rock of his early LPs. It was ’79’s Pink Cadillac that once and for all alienated him from the business. “That was when Steely Dan and the Eagles were at the top of charts with records that were squeaky clean, and I wanted to make a record with some noise. I wanted people to hear chairs squeaking and things banging around, like you’d just walked into somebody’s basement and there’s a band playing.”

That quest led him back to Memphis, where he recruited Jerry and Knox Phillips to produce. They even got their father, Sam Phillips, for a few songs. Prine chuckles when he notes that Phillips Snr came out of unofficial retirement for those sessions and had just turned down an offer to produce Paul McCartney. “We took amps into the echo chambers and blew them up so as to get hot frying metal going through the air.”

Pink Cadillac
is a rowdy rockabilly record 
that rocks harder than anything else in his catalogue, with covers of Roly Salley’s “Killing The Blues” and Warren Smith’s “Ubangi Stomp” rubbing elbows with sharp originals like “Down By The Side Of The Road”. It didn’t exactly suit the suits, Prine says. “They put it out, but they spent about $30 promoting it. That was the beginning of the end for me. I remember thinking, ‘I’m not made for major record companies.’ I wasn’t angry with them; it just wasn’t working. They’re frustrated with me. I’m frustrated with them. We don’t 
need to be doing this. So that’s how I started Oh Boy.”

He and his longtime manager, Al Bunetta, hung out their shingle in 1981, and Prine released his first indie record, Aimless Love, three years later. “It sold OK,” says Prine. “We weren’t expecting major-label numbers.” But his fanbase ensured Oh Boy would stay in business. “Before I went back in the studio to cut another record, before I had any songs written, people were already sending in cheques saying they wanted the next record. The record was paid for before we even cut it.”

The label thrived, putting out releases by Prine as well as a few by Kris Kristofferson and Todd Snider. Originally located on Music Row, it moved to a tiny apartment, then to a rambling old house in Germantown, Nashville, just down the street from the studio where he shares writing space with Sturgill Simpson. It’s also close to Monell’s, another of Prine’s hideouts. Bunetta died suddenly in 2015, leaving Prine sole owner of Oh Boy. His wife, Fiona Whelan Prine, took over as his manager, and his stepson, Jody Whelan, is director of operations. The house is a museum of sorts to Prine’s obsessions. There’s a Christmas tree in the lobby all year round. There are two huge dogs on the wall, based on designs by the famous cartoonist and Prine admirer John Callahan. Down the hall is a gold record for Bette Midler’s cover of “Hello In There”, complete with misspelling: “The Devine Miss M.”

Prine’s business might be just as influential in Nashville as his music. With Oh Boy he proved that artists who didn’t fit into the country mainstream could thrive away from the grind of the industry gears. Nearly 40 years later, Nashville is full of artist-centric imprints based on the Oh Boy model, including Jason Isbell’s Lightning Rod Records, Cobb’s Low Country Sound and Todd Snider’s Aimless Records.

“We’re really small, which allows us to do things very quickly,” says Jody Whelan. “We don’t have to run any ideas by corporate. I have a pretty good sense of what’s good and what’s not good. Everything is an extension of his music and his art. If you let someone like him have a business, it could be something really cool.”

“This banana pudding is sweet!” Prine exclaims. “It’ll lock your jaw up.” The dessert isn’t especially sugary, at least no more so than any other recipe. But he savours that turn of phrase as much as he does the meringue and vanilla wafers: “lock your jaw up.” Those words in that combination amuse him as much as those ingredients in that bowl. Prine loves jokes, loves words and the way they play off each other. Still, he admits he needs a not-so-gentle push to arrange them into full and finished songs. “I’m great at starting things and not finishing them,” Prine admits, and he says it like it’s a point of pride, as though procrastination were a noble pursuit.

His wife and stepson provided that push for The Tree Of Forgiveness. “They got me a suite at the Omni downtown, because they know I’m such a road hog. 
I function better in a hotel.” Prine checked in with a luggage cart laden with duffel bags, each one full of scribbled notes, news clippings, random thoughts, fragments of lyrics scrawled onto napkins.

“I started putting stuff in duffel bags, brightly coloured ones so they wouldn’t get lost in the attic. And I’d put everything in there about one song. I checked 
in with 10 duffel bags of unfinished lyrics and four guitars. I looked like Howard Hughes checking in. They must have been suspicious. I’d be up writing at three in the morning, wake up at three in the afternoon.”

A week later he emerged with enough material for 
a new record: 11 songs about love and life and loss; ancient gods on wheelchair lifts and the Vulcan statue in Birmingham, Alabama; true and abiding love and “more blessings than one man can stand”. Almost immediately he went to work cutting them at RCA Studio A with producer Dave Cobb. His family booked the sessions for him. “They knew I do good work on a deadline. To me it’s just 10 songs that don’t have anything to do with each other. But the more I listened, the more the record sounded like a project. The songs relate to each other. Dumb luck is what that is.”

Cobb is one of the biggest producers in Nashville currently, helming albums for Isbell, Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Sturgill Simpson, Old Crow Medicine Show and a bunch of other artists who consider Prine a beloved influence. He would have dropped everything to work on The Tree Of Forgiveness. “There are few people on the planet who have his command with a pen, so my concept with him was to just get out of the way of his lyrics,” Cobb says. “It’s not about the production. It’s about feeling every lyric and every emotion.”

Prine is as jovial a presence in the studio as he is at his favourite Nashville hideout. He set up photos of his family and even brought in a Christmas tree. As Cobb recalls, “He laughs at his own jokes over and over. There’s a song where he says his dad told him, ‘Son, when you’re dead, you’re a dead peckerhead.’ Every time he got to that lyric, he’d fall out of his chair laughing.”

Recording that song – “When I Get to Heaven”, which closes out the record with a big million-dollar bash – turned Studio A into a party, with a throng of friends, family and fans singing along in the background. “He came up to me and said, ‘You know what this song needs?’ ‘What, John?’ ‘Kazoos!’ Oh, boy. You can hear everybody having fun when they’re singing along and all playing those kazoos. You can’t help but laugh.”

One of those kazoo players was Brandi Carlile, a long-time fan who dropped by the studio on her way to the airport. One cancelled flight and several of Prine’s signature vodka-and-ginger-ale cocktails later, she was playing kazoo in the studio with everybody else. “We were just having a good time drinking, dancing and singing along,” she says, “and I started yodeling to make John laugh. I didn’t know it would end up on the record! But ‘When I Get to Heaven’ is the embodiment of John Prine. You get this lump in your throat, but you don’t know whether you should cry or laugh.”

“I still miss cigarettes,” Prine admits, pulling the napkin from his collar. “I used to be a heavy smoker before I had cancer. I quit the night before I had the surgery. Ever since, I’ve missed them like crazy. If somebody’s lighting up next to me, I lean in and smell that first hit. I dream about cigarettes.”

In 1998 Prine was diagnosed with neck cancer, undergoing radiation treatment and physical therapy. Fifteen years later, he discovered he had cancer in his lungs, which was removed during surgery. Today he holds his head slightly askew, as though he’s leaning in to hear you better. Despite those scares, he remains lively and alert. He doesn’t write about the cancer bouts and doesn’t blame them for his slow recording pace, but he does allude to his nicotine craving on “When I Get to Heaven”, the closing song on this latest album. “I’m gonna have a cocktail, vodka and ginger ale,” he sings on the chorus, referring to his signature drink, a concoction he dubbed a Handsome Johnny. “I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long!”

“I wrote that song because I figure there’s no cancer in heaven,” he says. “So when I get up there, I’m gonna have a cocktail and a cigarette that’s nine miles long. That’s my idea of what heaven’s like.” The Tree Of Forgiveness is a poignant album, humorous and deeply humane, tinged with melancholy, informed by his age and experiences – which makes it a vital and revealing addition to his sprawling catalogue.

Taking one last sip of sweet tea, Prine excuses himself. He’s off to Oh Boy to record something for Facebook Live, admitting that he doesn’t know what it is but he’s certain Fiona, Jody and his dependable Oh Boy staff can walk him through it. “In the last few years, things have been going great!” he says. “It was going so good, I was hesitant to put a record out. I don’t want to ruin anything. But these songs just fit me so well.” Prine offers a jovial goodbye as a mischievous expression crosses his face. The Tree Of Forgiveness is too lively to be a farewell album. He’s not settling his affairs in these songs or packing his bags for the great hereafter just yet – not when tomorrow’s special is meatloaf.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds reschedule European tour for spring 2021

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have rescheduled their UK and European tour, originally due to start this month, for spring 2021.

Tickets remain valid for the new dates, as follows:

Saturday 10 April Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium
Sunday 11 April Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tuesday 13 April Utilita Arena, Birmingham, UK
Thursday 15 April The O2, London, UK
Friday 16 April The O2, London, UK
Sunday 18 April First Direct Arena, Leeds, UK
Tuesday 20 April The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, UK
Wednesday 21 April Manchester Arena, Manchester, UK
Friday 23 April 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
Saturday 24 April 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
Monday 26 April Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, UK

Wednesday 28 April AccorHotels Arena, Paris, France
Thursday 29 April Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany
Saturday 1 May Royal Arena, Copenhagen, Denmark
Sunday 2 May Royal Arena, Copenhagen, Denmark
Tuesday 4 May Ericsson Globe, Stockholm, Sweden
Wednesday 5 May Spektrum, Oslo, Norway
Friday 7 May Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, Germany
Saturday 8 May Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin, Germany
Monday 10 May Arena Gliwice, Gliwice, Poland
Wednesday 12 May Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria
Thursday 13 May László Papp Budapest Sportaréna, Budapest, Hungary
Saturday 15 May Stark Arena, Belgrade, Serbia
Monday 17 May O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic
Wednesday 19 May Olympiahalle, Munich, Germany
Thursday 20 May Mediolanum Forum, Milan, Italy
Sunday 23 May WiZink Center, Madrid, Spain
Monday 24 May Altice Arena, Lisbon, Portugal
Thursday 27 May Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, Spain
Friday 28 May Zénith Toulouse Métropole, Toulouse, France
Monday 31 May Rome Palazzo dello Sport, Rome, Italy
Thursday 3 June Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland
Monday 7 June Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv, Israel

Tickets are still available for most of the UK shows, which feature special guest Courtney Barnett, from here.

John Prine has died, aged 73

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Folk and country singer-songwriter John Prine has died, aged 73.

He passed away yesterday (April 7) at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center from complications related to Covid-19. He was hospitalised last month with a sudden onset of symptoms after returning from a European tour.

Born and raised in Chicago, Prine was a postman playing local folk clubs by night when Kris Kristofferson helped him secure a deal with Atlantic. Self-titled 1971 debut made fans of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, and its songs were later covered by the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Bette Midler.

Prine went on to release 18 studio albums, with his most recent, 2018’s The Tree Of Forgiveness, reaching the American Top 5. Earlier this year he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys.

“Over here on E Street, we are crushed by the loss of John Prine,” wrote Bruce Springsteen. “John and I were ‘New Dylans’ together in the early 70s and he was never anything but the loveliest guy in the world. A true national treasure and a songwriter for the ages. We send our love and prayers to his family.”

“Words can’t even come close,” said Bonnie Raitt. “I’m crushed by the loss of my dear friend, John. My heart and love go out to Fiona and all the family. For all of us whose hearts are breaking, we will keep singing his songs and holding him near.”

Margo Price wrote: “It hurts so bad to read the news. I am gutted. My hero is gone. My friend is gone. We’ll love you forever John Prine.”

“A simple majority of who I am as a person, let alone a musician, is because of John Prine,” wrote Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who frequently covered Prine’s songs in concert. “He is my number 1.”

Watch a video for Brigid Mae Power’s new song, “Wedding Of A Friend”

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Brigid Mae Power will release her third album Head Above The Water through Fire Records on June 5.

You can watch a video for the single “Wedding Of A Friend” below:

Head Above The Water was recorded in The Green Door in Glasgow with Alasdair Roberts co-producing alongside Power and Peter Broderick. “It doesn’t sound different to me,” says Power, “it’s just the way things have progressed, but I suppose you could say that songs like the opening track, ‘On A City Night’ are, well, catchy? This album shows a few different sides to me.”

Power has rescheduled her summer tour, the new dates are as follows:

26 Jul: Deer Shed Festival, Yorkshire, UK
02 Sep: Glad Café, Glasgow, UK
04 Sep: St. Michael’s, Manchester, UK
05 Sep: Moseley Folk Festival, Birmingham, UK
09 Sep: The Rose Hill, Brighton, UK
15 Sep: The Lexington, London, UK

You can read an in-depth feature on Brigid Mae Power in the next issue of Uncut, out next week. Subscribe here to ensure you receive your copy in good time.

Send us your questions for Sparks

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Since breaking through in 1974 with the “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”, Sparks have witnessed presidents come and go, wars be won and lost, and musical movements – some of which they started themselves – rise and fall.

So the Mael brothers are not going to let the coronavirus knock them off course. New album A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip – their 24th, no less – will be released as originally planned on May 15, although those craving physical formats will have to wait until July 3.

You can watch an animated video for latest single “One For The Ages” below:

We know they’ve been keeping busy during lockdown because Russell has shared a timelapse video of his self-isolation routine, while Ron has been reading out selected Sparks lyrics.

And now we’ve got another task to occupy them: answering the questions sent in by you, the Uncut readers.

So what do you want to ask this most singular of groups? Send your questions to audiencewith@uncut.co.uk by Tuesday April 14 and Sparks will answer the best ones in a future issue of Uncut.