Plus free Bowie fanzine, Best Of 2019 CD and more

At the end of a momentous and perplexing year, it is comforting to keep a few certainties close at hand. The return of old favourites, for instance, over the course of the last 12 months like Wilco, Lambchop, Bill Callahan and Bon Iver has provided a degree of reassurance during tumultuous times. It’s also heartening to see the variety and quality of music made by emerging artists in our world. You’ll find many of these faces – familiar as well as fresh ones, of course – in our Top 75 new albums list. I’m not going to divulge much about the chart here – or the results of our other polls for best archive releases and best films. I can tell you, though, that 41 contributors voted this year, for 379 different new releases and 175 reissues. If there’s one outstanding fact about our 2019 chart of new releases, it’s that half of the Top 30 albums were made by women. You’ll find out more in our all-singing, all-dancing Review Of The Year – brought to you in association with Norman Records – that occupies the bulk of this month’s issue of Uncut. There are also interviews with some of the artists who’ve figured highly in our world during the last year – Weyes Blood, The Specials, Van Morrison, Stereolab, Bill Callahan, Rhiannon Giddens and Julia Jacklin.

Elsewhere, UK readers will note that this issue comes in a fancy bag. It is intended to keep safe our snazzy Bowie Bulletin – a bespoke fanzine documenting David Bowie’s momentous 1969, bringing together archival pieces from the pages of Melody Maker, NME, Disc And Music Echo and the lesser-spotted Fab 208. It has been lovingly designed by our Art Editor Marc Jones and includes a stunning poster on one side. It accompanies our cover feature, in which Tony Visconti tells the full story of Bowie’s stellar breakthrough year. I’m pleased to report that Visconti’s memory is astonishingly clear – even down to the type of sandwiches he and Bowie enjoyed for lunch during sessions for the Space Oddity album.

There’s also Richard Williams’ definitive review of Leonard Cohen’s posthumous album Thanks For The Dance, a catch-up with Robert Plant, a farewell to Ginger Baker by Pete Brown and some candid, unseen shots capturing the Stones during their earliest studio sessions.

Oh, and our free CD rounds up 15 of the year’s best tracks and features Nick Cave, Bon Iver, Cate Le Bon, Big Thief, Joan Shelley, Purple Mountains, Sampa The Great, Bill Callahan, Weyes Blood, Fontaines DC, Aldous Harding, Julia Jacklin, Modern Nature, Richard Dawson and Rhiannon Giddens.

Let us know your thoughts once you’ve had a look at the issue. I’m especially keen to hear about your own albums of the year, so drop us a line at letters@uncut.co.uk.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner