This week’s new edition of Uncut was to have featured our third female cover star in a row: Carole King, with Graeme Thomson’s deep piece on the making of “Tapestry” timed to coincide with King performing that entire lovely album live in London’s Hyde Park.
You can still read Graeme’s story in the new issue, along with Michael Bonner’s revealing chat with Paul Simon (Simon tells him a very good joke, perhaps surprisingly); Andy Gill’s trip to Portland to meet the supergroup of Neko Case, KD Lang and Laura Veirs; stuff about Iggy Pop, Lift To Experience, 10cc, Wilko Johnson, William Tyler, Allen Ginsberg’s musical career, Belly and Lush; plus reviews of the new Bob Dylan and Neil Young albums, and me going a bit over the top about the brilliant Irish singer, Brigid Mae Power.
Our cover story, though, is another product of unhappy circumstance. David Cavanagh’s exceptional memorial to Prince Rogers Nelson covers a lot of ground, as it needs to with such a superhumanly productive and eclectic musician as its subject. There is plenty of time, though, to reflect on the profound impact and implications of Prince’s art, and to draw wise counsel from some suitably august sources.
“Miles Davis,” writes Cavanagh early in his piece, “believed Prince to be a synthesis of three of the greatest entertainers in history: Jimi Hendrix, the flamboyant free spirit of the guitar; James Brown, the commander of funk who drove his band like Diaghilev; and Charlie Chaplin, comedy’s epitome of pathos, but a strong-willed auteur behind the camera who demanded – and was given – full artistic control. Davis, like many others, became obsessed with Prince on hearing 1999, the double-album that took a Cold War premise (we’re all going to die in a nuclear war) and urged us to celebrate like the euphoric crowds on VE Day. ‘He’s the music of the people who go out after ten or eleven at night,’ Davis marvelled. ‘He comes in on the beat and plays on top of the beat. I think when Prince makes love, he hears drums instead of Ravel.'”
It’s tempting to keep quoting nuggets like this from the feature: those of you who enjoyed and maybe took some solace from David’s recent pieces on David Bowie and Sir George Martin will hopefully have a good idea about the sort of authoritative, emotionally engaged piece of work we’re looking at: once again, I’m proud to be publishing it in our magazine.
Anyhow, this special issue is going to be on sale a little earlier than usual – on Thursday in the UK, I believe. We’re also putting a bunch of copies into our online shop (they should be in stock any moment now), alongside the motherlode of Ultimate Music Guides and History Of Rock volumes: if you’ve been collecting the latter, incidentally, you may be interested to know that we have a new supply of the first History Of Rock, for 1965, back in stock. And since, as I type, I’m playing the new Caledonia Soul Orchestra expansion of “It’s Too Late To Stop Now Vols II, III & IV”, I should give one more plug to our Van Morrison Ultimate Music Guide; that’s there, too. Listen to the lion, everyone…