The stories of Tom Waits’ unusual studio antics are legendary, but I don’t think I’ve heard this one before. “I was impressed by the amount of weirdo instruments he had hanging around. It’s an amazing collection. I thought, ‘Hello!’ He had a Mellotron, like an early version of the synthesiser, which was loaded entirely with train noises.”
This revelation, incidentally, is shared with us by none other than Keith Richards, who tells Uncut about his long, predictably colourful friendship with Waits as part of our cover story – from one old devil to another. Besides Richards’ warm and insightful recollections, there’s a deep dive into Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Franks Wild Years – an extraordinary trio of albums that recast Waits as a master of creative daring. “I asked Tom if there was anything he was looking for,” one collaborator tells Graeme Thomson. “He put his hands up to his mouth and stretched them out in front of himself, and said, ‘I need more…’ and made a long whooshing sound.”
There are, I hope, a lot of other creatively daring artists to be found in this issue of Uncut – but I’d quickly like to draw your attention to Tom Pinnock’s Album By Album interview with the great saxophonist Charles Lloyd. It’s no bad thing when an interviewee starts off quoting advice he was given by Duke Ellington… Among other jewels, there’s Peter Watts’ piece on David Bowie’s final Ziggy gig – an oral history from the fans’ perspective that reads more like social history than a music magazine feature.
As well as our regular CD, print subscribers should receive a second CD with this issue. It’s an exclusive five-track Margo Cilker CD, bringing together some tracks from Margo’s singular career so far, along with an exclusive track, “Here In Baker”.
I’m also pleased – if that’s the right word – that we could turn round a tribute to the fiercely talented Sinéad O’Connor, who died less than 24 hours before this issue went to the printers. I interviewed her for an Album By Album piece some years ago and she was brilliant:funny, intelligent and happy to talk in depth about her career. “It’s so nice just to talk about music,” she told me.
Which, I hope, is something we do here every month.