Monday, 9 March 2009
Peel slowly and see...
It's the summer of '89 and I'm lying in Darren McNeil's garden. College is over for the year and the holiday spreads out its expanse before us. It's hot, so hot that all the pretence of trying to do something with the day has dissipated. So there we lay, radio 1 blasting out from the kitchen and the sun creating dancing patterns on my eyelids when i heard the advert for that evening's John Peel show.
Now i knew who John Peel was. He was the Liverpool fan who always looked a bit older than the other DJ's on Top Of The Pops. He was also the guy who was supposed to have the really great radio show that the older kids listened to. So, i made a mental note to listen to it that night, which i did, but even better, i stuck a C90 in my system and taped the whole show too. As the nights progressed i started transferring the best tracks onto new C90's ad fin um until i had a bunch of C90's with, hand written on them, "The best of John Peel". I've still got about 20 of these.
The Family Cat, Spaceman 3, Pale Saints, Finitribe, Mudhoney, 808 State, Galaxie 500, A.R Kane, Sonic Youth, Lil Louis, Napalm Death, The Four Brothers. All these bands went from somebody i might have read about in Melody Maker and the NME to being the soundtrack of my life. And that was just the current artists he was playing, it was through John Peel that i heard mind and life changing tracks by the likes of Neil Young, Can, Kevin Ayers, Young Marble Giants, Captain Beefheart, Scritti Politti. The man was responsible more than any other in my life for breeding a wholehearted desire for musical eclecticism and the knowledge that no matter how much great music that i'd heard there was hundred's of LP's out there just waiting to blow my mind.
By the time John Peel died in 2004 i wasn't obsessively listening to his program anymore, he'd been shifted around so many times in the Radio 1 schedule that it was more a case of tuning into his show by mistake, but it was heartening to know that he was still there playing nosebleed techno before Ivor Cutler, going off into flights of fancy and putting records on at the wrong speed.
I got a phone call one night in 1997 from a friend, apparently he was playing a track from Magic Alex (Chica Chica). I ran to the radio but it was too late, if he had played it i'd never hear it, or hear his remark afterwards. This was the days before the internet (or certainly as we know it now) so there was no way i could 'listen again', but if he did play it i'd like to think that it wasn't the worst record he'd ever heard...
So here's three songs i heard that summer. Firstly i can distinctly remember that first show and one of the hightlights was this track from A.R Kane, Crack Up. Still gets a spin this one on the odd occasion, if the crowd seems in any way discerning.
13 Crack Up.mp3
Secondly, Can was probably the biggest discovery for me that summer and this song 'Dizzy Dizzy' was the first track i heard. Not my favourite, but every time i hear it i expect to hear John Peels voice at the end saying, "well that still sounds as good as ever"
And lastly, it'd be quite obvious to post a Fall track here, but in all honesty i'd already got a fall album by that time in my life and anyway this Captain Beefheart track was the true soundtrack to those hot late nights.
05 - My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains.mp3
Till next time folks...