Pop; SLEEVE NOTES

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The Independent Culture
Tonight sees a special benefit gig for one Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther who has been on Death Row for 16 years for a crime he has always denied. Public Enemy and the Fugees have helped raise the issue which looks like coming to a head in the next few months after an appeal was lost. Tonight's gig at the Mean Fiddler in Harlesden, north London (0181-963 0940) is headed by an acoustic session from Chumbawamba. A packed line-up also features an all-too-rare set from the Mekons, a storm of acid-addled preaching from Alabama 3 and The Men They Couldn't Hang.

The line-up for January's NME Premier Award Shows is now almost complete. Red Snapper, perhaps the most dynamic live act from the dance world, kick the series off on 18 January and the next day sees an incredibly good bill with Sebadoh headlining. They're backed by Elliott Smith, many people's tip to break through in 1999, plus Hefner and Quasi, both of whom have a growing number of admirers for their off-kilter sounds. The Bluetones headline on 20 January, Mercury Rev are sure to sell out quickly on 21 January as will Mansun on 22 January. Mogwai headline on 23 January while Unkle, Idlewild, Delakota and the Llama Farmers close the series on 24 January. All gigs take place at the Astoria in London (0171-434 0403) and the awards will be announced on Steve Lamacq's show on Radio 1FM on 25 January.

TP

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