Cover star – Neil Young
1) P96 – reviews of ‘Superb’ by The Beautiful South (“…after any seven Beautiful South songs you feel like you’re drowning in blancmange”), Frank Black’s ‘Fast Man, Raider Man’ (“the songs are uniformly strong, though inevitably not always quite strong enough to justify 27 of the buggers”) and a remastered version of ‘Paris 1919’ by John Cale (“….the album comes over like a dusty relic of another world, as comforting as a crackling hearth in the thick of winter, as familiar as a convivial uncle”.)
2) P52 –Andrew Collins praises the Hairy Bikers. “You might say that I, along with 2.4 million other proletarian cookery fans with an empty belly since Jamie Oliver became a social reformer, have fallen for the Hairy Bikers. They are like a 3D Viz strip (helped by Si’s crackling Geordie accent) with their fantastic cries of ‘How fantastic is that?’ and ‘Whack on your tomatoes!’ and to love them is to love life.”
3) P116 – Edward Lawrenson reviews some films including’Offside’ from Iran. “…a lively, quietly angry salute to women with a passion for football and freedom that rather puts to shame our habit of slumping in front of the TV to watch the World Cup. It’s rewarding, thought-provoking viewing, well worth a trip to the cinema.”
4) P10 – a two page piece on the Dixie Chicks and the aftermath of their anti-Bush statement three years earlier. “Now they return with their first record since the furore, in which no concessions are made to a country audience that is no longer listening. ‘When we were doing the marketing and publicity plan for the release we said ‘Exclude radio – we have to be creative’, says (singer, Natalie) Maines. ‘There are 147 country radio stations and only 20 something are playing the new album. So to me that’s pretty much finished. But we planned for that’.”
5) P69 – David Hepworth speaks to Steve Van Zandt over four pages about his bid to ‘rescue radio and save rock and roll’. “We have to make sure that bands get out of this regular-guy look. The two things that could stop this revolution are the regular-guy look and the three-piece band. The two biggest garage bands and the White Stripes and the Hives and they both have a look. I’m all for democracy but we need the separation and mystery is necessary. If you look on stage and you see exactly the same as you, what is there to aspire to? What is there to inspire you?”
Interesting – Neil Young is interviewed by Robert Sandall. “His (Neil’s) love of nature, as expressed by his ownership of a working farm stuffed with a zoo-like array of different animals, prompted a tirade against the arrogance of a certain strain of Christianity and their proposition that humans were made in God’s image. ‘What about the squirrels? How do they feel about that?
Graeme Thomson delves into the working methods of Sufjan Stevens. ” His album ‘Illinoise’ was the product of of months of research, reading everything from Carl Sandburg to police blogs, while he talks about ‘gathering material and reinforcing plausability in the narrative’, not a sentence you’re ever likely to hear Shayne Ward or even Phil Collins utter.”
Andy Gill writes about Grant McLennan’s short life in the Depature Lounge section. “According to Go-Betweens bassist Robert Vickers, McLennan was a bohemian to the last, a man who shunned the usual worldly demands, preferring to spend most of the day chatting about books and French new wave movies over cigarettes and beer.”
Dylan’s ‘Theme-Time Radio Hour’ is given an enthusiastic appraisal by Robyn Hitchcock. “The beauty of the show so far is how Dylan manages to shed light on himself by illuminating the music in which he was marinated as a youngster. It’s probably not all to his taste but then the same went for the world he was growing up in. None of his selections is as barbed as his own songs, although he’s deliciously ironic at times. ‘Bueno, Stevie, bueno’, he murmurs after Stevie Wonder’s rendition of A Place In The Sun. His long quote from the Italian lyrics is bound to end up on someone’s answering machine.”
This issue’s Word Of Mouth section in which celebrities and subscribers say what they’re enjoying in music, books and film.