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.

Watch David Gilmour play two Leonard Cohen songs

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This month, David Gilmour and his wife Polly Samson were due to head out on a short ‘words and music’ tour to launch Samson’s new novel A Theatre For Dreamers, set on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960 and featuring a young Leonard Cohen.

Instead, they live-streamed a similar event from home, with Samson reading from the novel and Gilmour playing a couple of Cohen’s songs.

You can watch him play “Bird On The Wire” (7:46) and “So Long, Marianne” (30:08) on the video below:

An Evening Of Words And Music With Polly Samson And David Gilmour has now been rescheduled for September. The dates are below and you can buy tickets by following the links.

Manchester RCNM – Wednesday September 9th

Birmingham Town Hall – Thursday September 10th

London Westminster Central Hall – Friday September 11th

Laura Marling’s new album Song For Our Daughter is out this week

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Laura Marling has brought forward the upcoming release of her seventh album. Song For Our Daughter will now be out this Friday (April 10) via Chrysalis/Partisan.

Hear the single “Held Down” below:

“In light of the change to all our circumstances, I saw no reason to hold back on something that, at the very least, might entertain, and at its best, provide some sense of union,” says Marling. “It’s strange to watch the facade of our daily lives dissolve away, leaving only the essentials; those we love and our worry for them. An album, stripped of everything that modernity and ownership does to it, is essentially a piece of me, and I’d like for you to have it.”

Song For Our Daughter was produced by Marling herself, alongside long-time collaborators Ethan Johns and Dom Monks.

All of Laura Marling’s previously announced tour dates have been postponed, however you can instead watch her series of guitar tutorials on Instagram.

Look out for a full review of Song For Our Daughter in the next issue of Uncut, out next week. Subscribe here to ensure you receive your copy in good time.

Real Estate – The Main Thing

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Since they formed in 2008, Real Estate have stood for an ideal of sweet, bucolic guitar pop, equally informed by British jangle-pop from the ’80s (think Felt, East Village, early Primal Scream), the lo-fi explorations of NZ’s Flying Nun brigade, and a more ornate, folksy classicism, following a throughline from Nick Drake to The Clientele. There’s an autumnal gait to their music: centred and wistful, it’s a specific vision of what the pop song can do. With every album a variation on that theme, for Real Estate the devil is very much in the details; what will they have done to draw something new and poignant out of their music this time?

In 2020, Real Estate are breathing out. The Main Thing feels luxuriant, particularly after the tightly locked In Mind three years ago. This was a conscious decision for Real Estate co-founder Martin Courtney: “I wanted to make a more chaotic, messy-sounding album, something that I think reflected the subject matter in the songs, and the world we are living in currently.” ‘Messy’ might be pushing it a little – even at their most open-ended, these songs still feel tightly scripted. But there’s certainly, at times, a creative tension between the lushness of the album’s production, and the doubt and uncertainty that Courtney explores in many of his lyrics.

Tellingly, it’s the first album where the core group have brought in outsiders to flesh out their arrangements – a string quartet appears on a number of songs, elsewhere there are extra vocals, percussion and keyboards. This intricacy has resulted in an album that shares the poise of groups like Prefab Sprout and The Pale Fountains, who made music during a window of opportunity, across the mid-1980s, where the pop landscape opened up to rigorous self-awareness. You can also hear touches of hypnagogic pop here, in the blanket of haze that descends on some of the songs; it’s particularly notable in Julian Lynch’s first song for the group, “Also A But”, which isn’t surprising given that his solo albums trade in precisely that kind of ‘articulate vagueness’.

In a sense, “Also A But”, with its abstract sense of foreboding, and its spiralling, subtly psychedelic tone, acts as a centrifugal force for the album. Core to The Main Thing is a reflection on uncertainty and the passing of time, particularly across a number of Courtney’s songs, where his role as family man leads him to question his understanding of his career and its broader place in the world. It’s something Courtney acknowledges when considering what motivates his writing, observing that some of these songs are reflective of his “starting to feel like I’m not getting any younger, and am I going to look back when I’m old and be proud of what I’ve accomplished in life”.

So “Friday” opens the album, a dreamy fug of synths drifting across the song’s gentle architecture, with Courtney “[trying] to hold on to the whole illusion of control”, while pondering hard-won futures, “standing on that gilded ridge/Wondering where the next step is.” “You” is classic Real Estate guitar pop, chiming six-strings glinting like moulded glass, while Courtney hymns a gentle melody to his children and their “earliest memories”, urging them to “for now, enjoy the innocence”. “The Main Thing” itself is one of the few moments where the album threatens to break out a sweat, glistening with incident as Courtney weaves a gorgeous melody across Jordan Pollis’s sweetly detailed rhythms.

It’s a lovely album, then, one that’s full of surface pleasure, and these are well-written, sturdy songs, rich with strong melody and atmosphere. But The Main Thing’s lushness can also risk homogeneity (and at moments, it feels like that’s just about the only risk here); sometimes, despite Courtney’s desire to make a ‘messy-sounding album’, the song’s edges have been blunted, their surfaces buffed to an almost inhuman sheen. It might be churlish to begrudge the album its largely pacific musical temperament, but the tension between the lyrics, full of doubt and germane reflection, and the sometimes aura-less songs, isn’t always productive.

Still, that’s a minor criticism relative to the successes here. There’s another clutch of great Real Estate songs on this gentle delight, and some clues as to where the group could go next, if they chose to really stretch out and see what else their songs could do.

Bill Withers has died, aged 81

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Soul singer Bill Withers has died from heart complications, aged 81.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father,” said his family in statement. “A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other. As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.”

Withers was responsible for a string of unforgettable soul hits in the 1970s, including “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Lean On Me”, “Just The Two Of Us” and “Lovely Day”, as well as timeless albums such as 1972’s Still Bill.

The West Virginia-born singer chose to walk away from his music career in the mid-’80s, his last album being 1985’s Watching You Watching Me.

“So sorry to hear about Bill Withers,” wrote Nitin Sawhney on Twitter. “I met him once in 2017. What an elegant, graceful man. In recent years I got to know and work with his brilliant daughter, Kori who inherits his talent and musical depth. What a sad and terrible loss.”

“RIP Bill Withers,” wrote Nile Rodgers. “Class, class and more class.”

Lucinda Williams: “I’ve been misunderstood for so long”

The latest issue of Uncut – which is in shops now or available to buy online by clicking here, with free P&P for the UK – features an in-depth interview with country-rock icon Lucinda Williams. In this extract from her wide-ranging conversation with Stephen Deusner, she discusses moving back to Nashville after a difficult period at the beginning of her career.

“What church do you go to?” That was the question Williams remembers dodging back when she lived in Nashville in the 1990s. “It wasn’t, ‘Do you go to church?’ It was, ‘What church do you go to?’” At the time the city was geared toward a very conservative brand of country music, with hat acts like Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson leading a country-pop crossover that left artists like Williams behind. “There was no-one wearing leather motorcycle jackets and biker boots.”

Williams’ time in Nashville was marked by rejection and frustration. Artists were covering her songs, but aside from Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version of “Passionate Kisses”, their labels weren’t pushing them as singles, mainly because radio programmers objected to lyrics like, “And the only thing I regret is I never kissed your mouth.”

After the release of Sweet Old World in 1992, it took six years to follow it up with Car Wheels On
A Gravel Road
, during which time she recorded the album and then had to re-record it. It’s one of the most acclaimed albums of that decade, but it still didn’t ingratiate her in Nashville. “When I got nominated for a Grammy for ‘Get Right With God’ in 2001,” she says, “I decided to drive out to Los Angeles. In the back of my mind I was thinking
I might just stay there.”

Nearly 20 years later, the Nashville machine remains rigid and intractable, but Williams isn’t even trying to break in any more. “I don’t have to deal with the music industry now,” she says. “There’s still crap coming out of Nashville. There’s still stuff that annoys me, like four people getting songwriting credit on a song. Why does it take so many people to write a bad song? Tom’s like, ‘Honey, just ignore it.’ I’ll try. I guess I can’t have a perfect town. At least nobody is asking me what church I go to.”

Still, Nashville has been a readjustment for her. “I like the anonymity I had in LA,” she says. She does get recognised on the street more often here than out in California, and everybody she meets is somehow connected to the music industry. “Every time I take an Uber or a Lyft, the driver is a singer-songwriter. When they find out I’m a musician, they always want to know what kind of music I play.”

With her adventurous new album Good Souls Better Angels using blues and country as springboards into heavy rock, punk, rural psychedelica and even hip-hop, that’s become a difficult question to answer. “I feel like I’ve been misunderstood to such a degree for so long,” she reveals. “I started out on acoustic guitar doing folk songs, then I moved into Delta blues, but I was always listening to edgier stuff like The Doors and the Stones. I got locked into the singer-songwriter thing by default. When you’re first starting out, usually it’s just you and your guitar. You immediately get put into that category, but I’ve always loved all different kinds of music.”

You can read much more from Lucinda Williams in the new issue of Uncut, out now with George Harrison on the cover.

Ways to keep reading Uncut during lockdown

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We realise these are challenging times – so we wanted to let you know that we’ll still be publishing Uncut as usual every month.

You’ll find us on sale in all the usual outlets, where open. But if you can’t make it to the shops, here are some other ways to ensure you can continue to get your fix of Uncut and our specials.

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.

If you have any questions about print subscriptions – whether that’s an existing one, or a new one or a single issue sale – our subs team subscriptions@uncut.co.uk will be able to help.

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.

We are also continuing to publish a fantastic series of specials, which include our Ultimate Music Guides, bookazines, the Archive Collection and more.

Hear Mavis Staples’ new single, featuring Jeff Tweedy

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Mavis Staples has released a new single called “All In It Together”. It was produced by Jeff Tweedy, who also features on backing vocals and guitar.

Listen below and download here:

All proceeds from the song will be donated to My Block, My Hood, My City – a Chicago organisation ensuring seniors have access to the essentials needed to fight Covid-19.

“The song speaks to what we’re going through now – everyone is in this together, whether you like it or not,” Staples explains. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what race or sex you are, where you live… it can still touch you. It’s hit so many people in our country and around the world in such a horrible way and I just hope this song can bring a little light to the darkness. We will get through this, but we’re going to have to do it together. If this song is able to bring any happiness or relief to anyone out there in even the smallest way, I wanted to make sure that I helped to do that.”

Hear Ty Segall’s Harry Nilsson covers album

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Ty Segall has released an album of Harry Nilsson covers called Segall Smeagol.

“I wanted to cover Nilsson Schmilsson for years,” he writes, “so I used the opportunity of being at home to cover my favorite cuts from the record. So here it is free on Bandcamp – Segall Smeagol LOVE TO EVERYONE”

Listen below:

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever announce new album, Sideways To New Italy

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have announced that their new album Sideways To New Italy will be released by Sub Pop on June 5.

It features recent single “Cars In Space” as well as brand new one “She’s There”, the video for which you can watch below:

Check out the tracklisting below, pre-order the album here, and read what singer/guitarist Fran Keaney had to say about it here.

1. The Second of the First
2. Falling Thunder
3. She’s There
4. Beautiful Steven
5. The Only One
6. Cars in Space
7. Cameo
8. Not Tonight
9. Sunglasses at the Wedding
10. The Cool Change

Watch Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker cover John Prine’s “Summer’s End”

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Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker has taken to Instagram to share an intimate acoustic cover of John Prine’s “Summer’s End”, from his 2018 album The Tree Of Forgiveness. Watch below:

“I’m beyond grateful for the gift of his songs, sending love to his whole family,” writes Lenker.

Prine was hospitalised last week after contracting Covid-19, and on Sunday his family confirmed that his situation was “critical”.

Watch The National’s High Violet concert film

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The National will release a 10th anniversary expanded edition of their classic 2010 album High Violet on June 19.

In addition to the 10 original songs, the 3xLP package includes a disc of tracks never before available on vinyl, including “Wake Up Your Saints”, “Walk Off” and an alternate version of “Terrible Love”. You can pre-order it here.

To mark the announcement, The National have shared their concert film High Violet Live From Brooklyn Academy Of Music (BAM), directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. It was shot on May 10, 2010, the night before the release of High Violet. Watch below:

The National also announced this week that all profits from their webstore and fan club enrolment will be directed to subsidising the lost wages for their 12 crew members until the end of the coronavirus crisis. Go here to peruse their merch.

Arbouretum – Let It All In

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It might be because of the album’s frequent references to water, but there are moments during Let It All In where Arbouretum gain momentum and start to sound like a river flowing steadily towards the sea, growing in speed and size. The Baltimore band have a unique cadence. They swagger heavily like an elephant doing the boogaloo, and on tracks like “Headwaters II” or the immense title track, they seem to be descending from the hills through the rapids towards the sea, unstoppable but always in control, like the outpour from a broken dam: fast, deep, majestic.

Arbouretum are led by vocalist Dave Heumann, who plays guitar and writes most of the songs and lyrics. Since 2011’s The Gathering, the band have featured a solid core of bassist Corey Allender, keyboardist Matthew Pierce and drummer Brian Carey. The sound this quartet have worked up over the past few albums on Thrill Jockey – The Gathering, 2013’s Coming Out Of The Fog and 2017’s Song Of The Rose (there have also been a handful of self-released records) – occupies unusual sonic territory that embraces both folk and heavier rock but doing so with a restraint and thoughtfulness that makes their music almost stately. You can usually hear traces of Fairport Convention and Crazy Horse at the heart of what Arbouretum do, but they are also aligned with a mix of contemporary artists like Woods, Wolf People, Wooden Wand, Earth and Kevin Morby.

The band used to be a little more wild and woolly but over time the frills that featured on their earlier, more folky, albums – Rites Of Uncovering (2007) and Song Of The Pearl (2009) – have been eroded, leaving them with a more focused core. This doesn’t mean that heavy jams and cool solos are off-limits – the album’s title song goes on for 12 minutes – but their music is loaded with a different kind of energy, one that comes from the tension of reining back a beast and refusing to indulge in showy overplay. To this central sound, Let It All In adds additional flavours: the honky-tonk swing of “High Water Song”, the transcendent Middle Eastern raga of “No Sanctuary Blues”, a brilliant medieval waltz called “A Prism In Reverse” and the synthy instrumental palate-cleanser “Night Theme”, which bobs along like something from Eno’s Another Green World. Adding pep are guests Walker Teret and Hans Chew, while drummer David Bergander joins Carey on almost every track, playing complementary parts that gives the sound of a four-armed drummer at a single giant kit rather than two drummers playing separately. This in itself is very Arbouretum: they always sound like a team.

The general consistency of the band’s approach over time means that three tracks on this album – “Headwaters II”, “ Let It All In” and “Buffeted By Wind” – were initially written and recorded in 2016 for Song Of The Rose. It scarcely seems credible that they could sit on a song as fantastic as “Let It All In” for four years, but it now emerges as the album’s krautrock-infused centrepiece with splendid groove that sounds like something by The War On Drugs or Black Mountain. “Let It All In” provided Heumann with something to write around, and the rest of the album duly come together. Some of Arbouretum hold down other jobs, so the band only tour when they have a record to promote. Instead of testing material on the road, then, they held weekly rehearsals for a year before hitting the studio, slowly and methodically putting together the songs one part at a time. You can feel the steadiness of this approach in the record’s atmosphere, where everything feels worked through but not so overplayed that it loses its lustre.

If Let It All In feels musically unified, it is supported by Heumann’s lyrics, which repeatedly circle back to elemental themes, particularly related to water. This interest in nature has been a feature of all Arbouretum albums, with Heumann reaching for metaphors that he feels will resonate deeper and longer. Similarly, he’ll often write about travel (in time as well as along roads and rivers), night, and rite and rituals. To take just a couple of examples, on The Gathering’s 11-minute “Song Of The Nile”, Heumann had a narrator “wandering down in Egypt, dressed in beggar’s clothes”, while Song Of The Rose’s typically slow-burning and graceful “Call Upon The Fire” offered a typical vision of a future where “rust has spread to everything/And weeds have choked the garden.”

Water and the sea dominate Let It All In. The album’s opening lines feature a man contemplating the ocean on “How Deep It Goes”, a CSNY-style folk rocker, and the album ends with the lines “Can’t fight the wind/Can’t dry the rain/Can’t reach the sea, except by following a stream down all the way to the end,” on “High Water Song”, a track that curls round Hans Chew’s country piano. In between we encounter creeks, lakeshore, “unwinding spools of rapids and pools” and a fair amount of rain. “Headwaters II” follows a river flowing through a timeless landscape, while “High Water Song” focuses on a narrator whose “low-lying town” has been washed away by floods and who is now trying to establish himself on higher ground among suspicious strangers: “Now I’m here singing this hill people song/You won’t get caught if you just hide your eyes when you sing along.”

Like the protagonist in “High Water Song”, Heumann’s characters often find themselves taking part in communal or cultish rituals. On “A Prism In Reverse” we are transported to colonial-era Pennsylvania where some sort of religious meeting is taking place involving singers whose voices join “like a prism in reserve”. Among the grey-robed group is a woman,
who seems to have joined them in disguise (“hair tucked under… gentle form obscured”) and who beckons the narrator into a “dark unending wood”. It’s a narrative marvel, economical and enigmatic, with just a trace of unsettling Wicker Man/Kill List folk-horror.

“No Sanctuary Blues” and “Buffeted By Wind” are less clear in their setting. “No Sanctuary Blues” has a restless narrator and meandering rhythm, with Middle Eastern flourishes laced with stabs at space rock. The unsettled singer wakes up “hearing war drums and feeling nearly dead” and ends the song confronting “gates of the sun and land of dreams” with Telesphorus, the Greek dwarf god of recovery from illness. By contrast, “Buffeted By Wind” unfolds in a clean but jangly tangle of guitar. It sounds like a Simon & Garfunkel track, and acts as a break between the twin gales of “Headwaters II” and “Let It All In”. It’s the latter that packs the most muscle, taking a minute to build up steam before Heumann’s vocal comes in.

The song was recorded with Bergander’s percussion ensemble Drums Of Life, while Pierce supplies a rich and sonorous organ part like something from Deep Purple. Heumann’s lyric – one of a handful written with his occasional collaborator Rob Wilson – spins round themes of trust and confusion, but as the music heads dynamically towards its conclusion, you feel as if you are in safe hands, a life raft bobbing on a wave of crushing power.

Watch Michael Stipe perform new song, “No Time For Love Like Now”

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Michael Stipe has released a video of him performing a new song, “No Time For Love Like Now”.

He writes: “First take! A new song with Aaron Dessner. This is the demo track. Echoing Love xxx Michael”. Watch it below:

Michael Stipe has been a great hero and friend to me (and The National),” added Dessner on Instagram, “and I never in my wildest dreams imagined writing songs together…but here is the demo of one in progress…coming to you from Michael in isolation at home — hope it raises some spirits. The lyrics and sentiment in the music feel tied to this time.”

Nick Mason on Syd Barrett: “He was pushing in a weirder direction”

The new issue of Uncut – in shops now and available to buy online by clicking here – features an extensive reminiscence by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason about the early years of the band and the mercurial brilliance of Syd Barrett.

“In late 1966, Peter Jenner and Andrew King discovered us and we started a residency at All Saints Church Hall in Notting Hill,” Mason tells Tom Pinnock. “Syd was writing then, but I still remember a review saying that what we were doing was interesting but that we really should drop ‘Louie Louie’ from the setlist. They were probably correct.

“We started playing extended pieces at the Hornsey College Of Art. All the stuff we did there was weird – it was not suited to songs or a regular repertoire! Because of working with their light and sound workshop, we made these early versions of psychedelic music. That was developed further at UFO at the end of the year.

“I think Syd was beginning to use LSD by the time we played All Saints. When we got to UFO, he was doing a lot more of it. But it’s not something that you can see – you can see someone smoking or snorting or injecting – so you’d never know. Us and The Soft Machine were both seen as being house bands at UFO – though we had slightly more status within the industry. We had produced a minor hit record at least, whereas Soft Machine never got close to doing anything quite that crass! They were proper grown-ups. But it meant that we pulled in a bigger audience because of that.

“Syd got on really well with Joe Boyd when we recorded ‘Arnold Layne’. He was happier with him than working with Norman Smith on Piper…. Joe was much more part of the counterculture, and Andrew and Peter were absolutely supportive of Syd, too. Joe worked for Elektra, which behaved more like an indie label, whereas EMI was a full-on commercial operation – Manchester Square, A&R departments, marketing department, £25 for the cover of a record, that’s how it worked. Of course, they had had The Beatles, which made them top dog.

“Just a month after ‘Arnold Layne’, we were in Studio 3 at Abbey Road recording Piper. It was very quick. Roger and I had been in college most days, and then suddenly we had become professional, and we were spending seven hours a day doing music rather than an hour and a half. Initially, Syd was pleased about all this – in the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A there was a letter he wrote, saying how excited he was by the whole thing, by us getting our own van.

“The rest of us realised that it didn’t really work with Norman Smith when we were doing A Saucerful Of Secrets later on. But I suspect that even with Piper, Syd was thinking that he didn’t particularly want Norman’s control on it. I can imagine Syd thinking, ‘I know how I want to do this, I don’t want Norman trying to turn it into a hit single…’ Which I think Norman felt some obligation to try and do, whereas Syd was pushing in a weirder direction. ‘Interstellar Overdrive’, say, was a genuine jam: at any point it could have gone off in any different direction! Then again, Syd knocked out ‘The Gnome’ or ‘Scarecrow’, something that was so not psychedelic and more English, bucolic, rural.”

You can read much more of Nick Mason on Syd Barrett in the May 2020 issue of Uncut, out now with George Harrison on the cover.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins

This fine documentary about one of the great voices of British folk music opens at the bonfire-night celebrations in Lewes, East Sussex, where she lives. The footage includes a menacing procession of burning effigies and martyrs’ crosses. Elsewhere, the nearby South Downs countryside appears as a fierce, lonely and strange place, wreathed in winter mist. Collins has lived in Sussex all her life, and her work carries the rich folkloric history and song of the region. “When I was singing my best, I was the essence of English song,” she says. “I sang it better than anyone else, and understood it better than anyone else.”

Directors Rob Curry and Tim Plester follow Collins as she prepares to release Lodestar, her first album in 38 years. She is a sprightly, game interview, whose own secret history is as enticing as the lost, esoteric music she has championed. Comedian Stewart Lee – an aficionado – shows her a sheaf of old government files on the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, her former partner and a “convicted Communist”. Another long-standing admirer, Current 93’s David Tibet, presents her with three different-coloured Russian bootleg flexis of Collins singing “Polly Vaughan”. In the remote, converted horse trailer belonging to folk singer Elle Osborne, Collins drinks homebrewed elderflower vodka and muses on her new recording. “It might be a mistake, but in a way I don’t care. At least I’m going to do it.”

It’s been a life well lived, and accordingly Collins seems fazed by very little, though inevitably she still keenly feels the absence of her collaborator and sister, Dolly, who died in 1995. “It’s funny being without your sister, even now I don’t think it’s true,” she says. The final shot is Collins, having said “Toodle-oo” to her latest musical collaborators, sitting back on her sofa, her eyes shining; reconnected with the earth and her music.

Watch the film here and read about Shirley Collins’ next project in the May 2020 issue of Uncut, out now.

Watch Neil Young’s Fireside Sessions 2

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Neil Young has released the second instalment of his Fireside Sessions, comprising filmed acoustic performances captured live at his home during lockdown.

It features new acoustic renditions of “Birds”, “On The Beach”, “Words” and more, with Young accompanying himself on guitar, harmonica and piano.

After playing “Four Strong Winds” outside in the snow, Young delivers a short message to camera: “Hope you’re all doing well out there everybody – it’s a different situation…” The video also features him demonstrating how to properly wash your hands.

Watch Fireside Sessions 2 here – although you need to be signed up to Neil Young Archives first, which you can do here.

Hear Bob Dylan’s epic new song, “Murder Most Foul”

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In the early hours of this morning (March 27), Bob Dylan surprised the world by taking to social media to share an astonishing new song, “Murder Most Foul”.

It’s his first new material since 2012’s Tempest, and at nearly 17 minutes, it’s the longest track he’s ever released. Listen below:

“Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years,” wrote Dylan. “This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you.”

No details of the date and location of the recording, or the other musicians involved, have been revealed.

“Murder Most Foul” is broadly about the assassination of John F Kennedy, which he recounts in arrestingly stark terms: “Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car”. However, it goes on to take in numerous aspects of 20th century culture, referencing The Beatles, Tommy, Woodstock, Altamont, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Gone With The Wind, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Parker, Nat King Cole, Marilyn Monroe, John Lee Hooker, Patsy Cline, Houdini, “Wake Up Little Suzy”, “Let The Good Times Roll”, Play Misty For Me and even Nightmare On Elm Street.

Do let us know what you think: letters@uncut.co.uk

Hear Bright Eyes’ new song, “Persona Non Grata”

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Following the announcement of their reformation earlier this year, Bright Eyes have released their first new song since 2011.

Hear “Persona Non Grata” below:

In an accompanying message, the band say they will release a new album in 2020 “no matter what”: