Student

Matthew Wood, on a year abroad at the University of Alabama, discusses what life is like today in one of the major battlegrounds of the 60s

The Weasel: Hymns to the joyful

Ever come across fifty-quid bloke? A phenomenon of the baby-boom generation, he's not uncommon. You may have one for your dad or have the dubious pleasure of being married to one. Fifty-quid bloke is a middle-aged music fan who hasn't got to grips with downloading and therefore drops £50 or thereabouts on CDs whenever he enters a big record shop. Since I can't stand big record shops, I have fifty-quid bloke moments on Amazon. My most recent splurge was prompted by a long article in The New Yorker about American folk music. Near the start, it mentioned that an Atlanta record producer called Lance Ledbetter had issued "what many consider the greatest gospel compilation ever made: a six-CD set called Goodbye, Babylon". Not being a great gospel fan, this did not lure me.

Don Helms: Hank Williams' steel guitarist

A highly influential steel guitarist, Don Helms was best known for his membership of Hank Williams' band The Drifting Cowboys. His distinctive style, with its blues inflections and characteristic use of the upper octaves, featured on over a hundred of the singer's classic sides, including "Cold, Cold Heart" (1950), "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)" (1951) and "Your Cheatin' Heart" (1952).

Fiction, but not pulp - 720,000 recycling leaflets

A city council printed 720,000 copies of a leaflet praising its residents' recycling - but used the wrong picture on the cover.

US oversight office backs Boeing protest over $40bn deal

A US government oversight office plunged one of the defence industry's most lucrative and bitterly contested contracts into chaos yesterday when it backed a protest from Boeing against the US Air Force's decision to award a $40bn (£20.4bn) in-flight refuelling aircraft replacement programme to its European rival EADS.

Ernst Stuhlinger: Rocket scientist who helped the US become the leading space power

Ernst Stuhlinger was one of the most talented members of the German group of rocket scientists who developed the V-2 missile and subsequently played a key role in most of the major events that led to the birth of the Space Age and enabled their adopted country, the United States, to become the world's leading space power.

Ex-Bush adviser Rove must testify in case that could shame White House

Karl Rove, the former trusted adviser to President George Bush, will be compelled to testify on Capitol Hill in a high-profile investigation of alleged political meddling by the White House in decisions made by the US Justice Department.

Honeydripper (PG)

John Sayles delves into the early years of rock'n'roll. Danny Glover plays the owner of a blues club in Fifties Alabama who tries to stave off bankruptcy by hiring the New Orleans legend "Guitar Sam" for a one-night-only gig.

Alabama: The shellfish gene

Nowhere does oysters quite like the Yellowhammer State. Rob Crossan finds indulgence and small-town charm in Alabama

McCain reaches out to black voters in pitch for America's 'forgotten'

In stark contrast to his Democrat rivals, John McCain spent yesterday far from Pennsylvania, where, unopposed, he will pick up all 74 delegates. He was in a depressed steel town in Ohio, telling voters that under his leadership, the economic good times would return.

US Bible Belt begins clear-up after the worst tornadoes in 20 years

Dazed survivors of the worst tornadoes to hit the American Bible Belt in more than two decades surveyed the wreckage of their flattened homes yesterday, as state and federal clean-up crews herded them into temporary shelters and started to tackle downed power lines, severed gas pipes, fallen trees and debris as far as the eye could see.

Album: The Blind Boys of Alabama, Down in New Orleans (Proper)

Despite having been in existence since the days when music revolved at 78rpm, The Blind Boys of Alabama have never before recorded in New Orleans – and sadly, listening to this latest album, it's no surprise.

Arthur Alexander, Lonely Just Like Me: The Final Chapter

Label: HackTone

George Bush: 'We've been humbled by the powers of Mother Nature'

From a radio address by the President of the United States, broadcast from the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington DC
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