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NEXT Thursday Keith Richards will take his red plectrum, his bandana and his bottle of Jack Daniel's out for a rare public airing. Like almost 200 bands a year, Richards has chosen to play at the Town & Country club in Kentish Town, north London.

ROCK / Settling old scores: Giles Smith watches Keith Richards close at hand in his 'secret' show at the Marquee, London

OUTSIDE the Marquee club, the queue of the ticketless stretched mournfully up the street for 30 yards. And inside, the fortunate ones were wedged to within a cubic inch of the fire and safety regulations, waiting for Keith Richards, the Rolling Stone. And then waiting a bit more. Richards was due on at 9.00. At 9.20, a muffled voice announced the concert would begin in 10 minutes. Ten minutes later, there was still half an hour to go. The person behind the tape-deck teased us with a few Rolling Stones oldies. And finally on he came, a variety of scarves and towels tied to his hair, his belt, his arms and his legs, hand swinging across the strings in the opening chords of 'Take it to Heart'.

JAZZ / Knee trembler: Phil Johnson on David Sanborn at the Town and Country, London NW5

IN THE trading estate of rock venues, the Town and Country is only a medium-sized industrial unit, but for an all-instrumental act it's still a very big space to fill. That saxophonist Sanborn and his band filled it two nights in a row was testimony to the pulling power of one of jazz-funk's greatest stars. Getting the customers through the door was only half the problem, though; keeping them entertained was always going to be more difficult for a performer whose main concession to visual dynamics is occasionally bending at the knees.

Who's the dummy?

'IS that Freddie Mercury?' demanded a small Australian girl. 'No, dear,' replied her mother after careful consideration: 'That's Prince Charles.'

INTERVIEW / He who pulls the strings: Keith Richards was in Paris last week, promoting his new solo album. He talked to Giles Smith about his impending summit with Bill Wyman, his rekindled relationship with Mick Jagger and the night he thumped Ronnie Wood

KEITH RICHARDS says he's trying to curb the habit now, but sometimes the temptation creeps up on him and he falls. 'Especially when you're on tour. People come out of the woodwork and somehow they're back stage and they're dangling this beautiful stuff in front of you . . .' Which is why there are some 300 different guitars in Richards' collection. They're an addiction and he can't say no.

Arts: Under the covers: Hal Willner is neither a musician, nor a composer, but he's an original. He takes the work of his favourite songwriters and remakes it, using any combination of today's musicians, as long as it's unlikely. His new album is 'Weird Nightmare', a tribute to Charles Mingus. Making it was weird, at times nightmarish

A MICROPHONE dangles from the ceiling of the Mastersound recording studio in Queens, just over the East River from Manhattan. Leaning into it, somewhat tentatively, is a hefty figure, enveloped in a dark crumpled suit. As a spectral murmur of gongs, chimes and muted voices drifts from the speakers, he croons in a voice of ragged velvet:

RECORDS / The sounds of breaking bones: Andy Gill reviews the week's new album releases

Tom Waits - Bone Machine (Island CID 9993)

RECORDS / Rock: Tom Waits - Bone Machine (Island ILPS 9993)

The durability of Waits's music as an upmarket lifestyle accessory is an extraordinary thing, given how difficult so much of it has been to listen to in recent years. His obvious gift for mythic observation and alcohol-mediated melancholy has been shrouded in ever more impenetrable layers of rhythmic density and brutal larynx-torturing over the decade since Swordfishtrombones. The 16 songs here, half co-written with his wife Kathleen Brennan, make up his first proper new work, soundtracks and live fillers excluded, since Frank's Wild Years in 1987. As ever, there are dull moments when you just want to buy him a throat pastille and cancel his subscription to Watchtower, and his new percussive invention, the 'Conundrum', is not an entirely welcome innovation. But there are also several fine semi-ballads, especially 'A Little Rain', in which the now too familiar Waits croak opens out into something new and lovely. And there's a nice gospel tune, 'Jesus Gonna Be Here'. The whole thing ends on a hearteningly up-beat note, with the jug-band swagger of 'I Don't Wanna Grow Up', and a funny duet with fellow unlikely survivor Keith Richards, pointing the way to an oddly unbleak tomorrow.
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