A month, perhaps, of surprises. On the rather intimidating new Scott Walker and Sunn O))) album, there appears to be a joke about Michael Flatley’s testicles. Somewhere in the elevated aesthetics of Kate Bush’s Before The Dawn, there’s an equally dubious comedy routine that hinges on the punchline, “HP and mayo, it’s the badger’s nadgers.” And then, just as we were finishing the new issue of Uncut (out today in the UK, as you may have seen), a U2 album suddenly materialised in iTunes, a bullish play to reassert them as the biggest pop group in the world.
It would be nicely self-aggrandising to pretend that Uncut saw all this coming. We did, however, have an inside track on another of 2014’s most unforeseen musical events: the return to action of Pink Floyd. For the past few months Michael Bonner, our Associate Editor, has been mapping The Endless River, from its source in 20-year-old sessions, to ending up as what one of the producers, Phil Manzanera, describes to us as “A Pink Floyd album for the 21st Century.” En route, Michael discovered plenty, not only about the extraordinary working practices of Dave Gilmour and Nick Mason, but also how The Endless River became a kind of memorial to Rick Wright. It’s the cover story of our new issue and, though it’s obviously part of my job to say as much, a great piece, I think.
In another serendipitous bit of business, earlier in 2014 we began contacting the friends, colleagues, fans and relations of Leonard Cohen, with a plan to commemorate his 80th birthday by collecting insights into 20 of his greatest songs. The responses – from Adam Cohen, Robert Plant, Sharon Robinson, Javier Mas, Mark Kozelek, Rebecca De Mornay, Anjali Thomas, Roscoe Beck and Judy Collins, among others – proved revelatory. The biggest surprise, though, came from Patrick Leonard, who let slip that he was just finishing off a new Cohen album. So it is that our piece now sits in the new issue alongside a deep review of “Popular Problems” by my illustrious predecessor, Allan Jones.
What else? Underworld, John McLaughlin, Jimmy Cauty, Vashti Bunyan, Strand Of Oaks and The Guess Who. Stevie Nicks on the Fleetwood Mac reunion. An audience with Willie Nelson. Brian Wilson: the movie. The untold story of Joe Strummer’s 101’ers. The usual hefty, definitive reviews section. And a fine interview with Bernard Sumner that involves New Order, Joy Division, soldering irons, gangs with swords, scooters, Wishbone Ash and the current state of his relationship with Peter Hook.
For my own part, I’ve spent this month writing up my springtime adventures in North Carolina with Hiss Golden Messenger, digging into new albums by Chris Forsyth, Steve Gunn, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Bing & Ruth, MV & EE and Martin Duffy, investigating The Pop Group’s “Cabinet Of Curiosities” and reviewing that astonishing Kate Bush show
We also have a pointedly different perspective on Before The Dawn from one of our readers, Peter Beynon – which reminds me: please send your brickbats, bouquets, stern textual critiques, reminiscences, threats, meticulous crossword analyses, tearstained billets-doux and all other forms of printable correspondence to email@example.com. As ever, we’d be delighted to hear from you…
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