Thursday, 25 October 2012


It is often said that when news broke of the assassination of JFK people remembered exactly where they were and what they were doing at the time. I suspect a fair few fans of JRPR could say the same.

At the turn of the century my thirty-something self was gravitating towards the revamped Radio 2, and with Andy Kershaw sidelined to Radio 3, Peel's was the only show I listened to on Radio 1. Today I would struggle to name a presenter/dj on that station.

I had been a "regular listener" since discovering the show as a pre-teen in the late seventies; but to my eternal shame I'd lapsed during Peel's final year of broadcasting. Having treated myself to my first DAB the previous christmas, I became hooked on the wide range of new digital stations on offer, 6 Music especially.

Steeped in Peel's pioneering ethos, 6 mUSIC continuES where he left off when he left us, both in the music he once championed and in the championing of new music. Archive sessions are broadcast daily on many of the station's programmes; several current presenters were once in bands themselves who Peel first gave national exposure to.

So here's my little contribution to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the passing of this great man. The five sessions presented here - one from each decade spanning his career - are deliberately less obvious choices, perhaps in keeping with the spirit of John Peel himself, and reflect my own taste which, naturally, he helped shape.

1. Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)  2. Nights In White Satin  3. Dawn Is A Feeling  4. What Am I Doing Here?

Until earlier this year I'd largely overlooked The Moody Blues. But one day whilst squeezing into the confined space of my local Oxfam shop, I chanced upon two original mono edition lps for £1.99 each.

Prior to my prized purchases my knowledge was limited to Nights In White Satin (mainly The Dickies version) and a clip from the BBC's archival sixties series The Rock 'n Roll Years. Among highlights including Frank Zappa's bass player singing mock doo wop in falsetto, Vivian Stanshall prancing about in a giraffe's head, Moodys singer Ray Thomas undertakes a cumbersome choreograph during the guitar break of Ride My See-Saw akin to a partially beheaded chicken

Perhaps naming your band after an Elvis album and looking like a bunch of otherwise unemployable chaffeurs for an unctuous entrepreneur who spend all their spare time (and wages) in a backstreet bookies isn't a strong selling point; being lumbered with the symphonic rock tag suggests (to me at least) menacingly-sideburned metalheads getting heavy with philharmonic orchestras in a bloated bout of prog pomp.

If you're coming from a similiar perspective, hopefully these recordings will convince you otherwise.

1. Singer Man  2. 54 46  3. Black and White  4. Moon Walk

Peel, of course, was the first radio presenter to give national exposure to the reggae artists, initially incurring the wrath of his rock-orientated listenership.

Greyhound are best known on these shores for their 1971 UK top ten hit Black and White (a version of which is included here). They had two more follow up minor hits before seemingly fading into obscurity.

This was their second session for Peel, having recorded their debut a year earlier in their original incarnation The Rudies. Sadly, a tape of this session has yet to surface,

All debt and gratitude go to Mr. Obscure who first uploaded the session for the world to savour, and from whom I unashamedly purloined.

1. Loss  2. Walk Away  3. Eat Me To The Core  4. She Comes Tomorrow

Named after a Fire Engines b side, Meat Whiplash emerged from the same stomping ground (musically and geographically) as The Jesus and Mary Chain, delivering what the Mary Chain promised pre-southernisation.

After releasing a now highly collectable single, Don't Slip Up, on Creation in September 1985, the group caught the attention of Peel, and were duly summoned to Maida Vale for this their only session.

They were the opening act for JAMC's infamous riot gig at North London Polytechnic in March 1985 and were beaten up on stage by members of the audience after a wine bottle was thrown in to the crowd.

The group recorded a follow up single, but unhappy with the results chose not to release it. By summer C86 they had called it a day, but returned briefly in 1987 for a second stab at stardom as The Motorcycle Boy with Alex from the Shop Assistants on vocal duties.

1. Traffic Jam  2. Language Of Violence  3. Positive  4. Exercise Your Right

I was never a fan of hip hop/electro/whatever it was called that week, but with Television The Drug Of The Nation domineering the analogue airwaves in the first quarter of 1992 amid all the doom-laden, parent-hatin', straight world beratin' smack-spiked scuzz of the lumbershirted longhairs, Michael Franti and Rono Tse seemed like the real deal (Dickinson-free) with something of substance to say.

Unlike others of their ilk, Franti's intelligent and narrative lyrics were delivered in an authorative rather than an aggressive manner, with Tse providing original and imaginative samples, and blending industrial soundscapes with precision funky rhythms. Not only did they use REAL drummers and bass players, they even had songs with actual - gasp! - melodies.

A total of eight songs were recorded at the session, four of which were broadcast on Andy Kershaw's show (which I don't have). Three of the songs were exclusive to this session (although a version of Exercise Your Right was included as a bonus 12" with the limited vinyl edition of Hipocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury). Language Of Violence is a radical rearrangement to it's album counterpart.

Franti would go on to form the soul-funk infused Spearhead; Tse released another album under the Hiphoprisy banner in 1993, this time collaborating with one William S. Burroughs.

1. Monster Melody

We started this mammoth-ish post with a Brum-based band and end it with another second city citizen.
If you're unfamiliar with Misty's Big Adventure then a) shame on you and b) chances are you won't know their quakery frontman or this sixteen minute quirky opus.

One wonders if Misty's had caught Peel's attention as they were active when this session was recorded. It would be nice to think if he'd stuck around for his 70th birthday they'd have been invited to play in the back garden of Peel Acres.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Robert Lloyd & The New Four Seasons - Peel Sessions 1987-1990

Along with Ivor Cutler, The Fall and Half Man Half Biscuit, Robert Lloyd is one of the most recorded artists by the BBC. Criminally, he remains the least known and popular (in commercial terms) than the aforementioned three.

He clocked in 15 sessions in as many years for John Peel: two with The Prefects, eight with The Nightingales (who continue to feature as Marc Riley's session guests on average once a year), and five for arguably his least acclaimed period as frontman of The New Four Seasons.

After the dissolution of the 'Gales as Lloyd attended affairs of the Fuzzbox kind, he formed the Seasons with Peter Byrchmore in tow. Peel was quick to champion them, offering two sessions in 1987 alone, and before they'd even released a single.

Potentially at his most commercial, the aural trademarks of Beefheartian guitar weaving weened on anti-blues punk energy intertwined with a Black Country take on country and lyrically framed by a narrative poet with a journalistic pespective were still evident, but now with a more melodic vocal structure and driven by a steadier, more conventional beat.

Relinquishing his market trader in a sharp suit entrepreneurial skills the band signed to In Tape, releasing two singles in 1988 before later signing to Virgin. Two singles and three more Peel sessions would ensue before an album, Me And My Mouth (minus the band monicker), eventually surfaced in 1990. Sadly, the album didn't live up to the promise delivered on the BBC recordings: while the quality of the songwriting is unreservedly top notch, the album is perhaps marred by an unimpressive production, with some dated baggy-esque keyboard sounds, and an array of guest musicians for different songs giving the album a lack of coherence that a more stable band set up would have brought.

Apart from What A Scream, a cd compilation of Nightingales odds 'n sods released by Demon in 1991, this would be Lloyd's final mouthing off for the 20th century until reactivating The Nightingales in 2004.

There's more than enough goodies here to sate the ardent and new fan alike: obscure classics like Of Course You Can't and The Part Of The Anchor (still sometimes featured in The Nightingales live set); curios like Tocatta and Fatigue, a short instrumental that wouldn't sound out of place as the intro music to a Black Sabbath concert; and lost gems like Here Comes Mimi (truly an A side that never was), plseveral other exclusive tracks that never made it on to wax. The fouth sesh is made up entirely of covers of songs by George Jones, John Cale, Kevin Coyne and Captain Befheart. Interestingly, Good Boy would be re-recorded for the comeback album Out Of True.

1. Something Nice/Tocatta and Fatigue  2. Of Course You Can't  3. The Part Of The Anchor

1. Top Floor To Let  2. Sweet Georgia Black  3. Half A Heart

1. Funeral Stomp  2. Mama Nature's Skin  3. Ta Love  4. Nothing Matters
4th Peel Session 4/3/1990
1. The Race Is On  2. The Man Who Couldn't Afford To Orgy 3. Good Boy  4. Grown So Ugly
1. Here Comes Mimi  2. Go Forth and Multiply  3. Kiss Me Stupid  4. Slags and Angels

The Nightingales appear in session once more on Marc Riley's 6 Music show tomorrow night @ 7pm.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Big Flame - Peel Sessions 1984-86

Blimey, it's a Big Flame bonanza!

1st Peel Session 16/07/1984
1. Breath Of A Nation  2. Debra  3. Man Of Few Syllables  4. Sargasso

2nd Peel Session 17/02/1985
1. All The Irish Must Go To Heaven 2. New Way  3. Chanel Samba 4. These Boots Are Made For Working

  3rd Peel Session 17/11/1985
1. Earsore  2. Let's Rewrite The American Constitution  3. Cat With Cholic  4. Every Conversation

4th Peel Session 04/05/1986
1. Sink (Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues Part 1)  2. Xpqwrtz  3. Three On Baffled Island  4. Testament To The Slow Death Of Youth Culture
1. Debra  2. The Illness  3. Chanel Samba  4. Breath Of A Nation  5. Sink  6. Sargasso  7. All The Irish Must Go To Heaven  8. Where's Our Carol?  9. Man Of Few Syllables.

Solo acoustic set by one time Big Flame frontman, performed in the courtyard of the Wagon & Horses pub in Birmingham, as support to Yeah Yeah Noh. Having popped to the bar and then nipped out for a crafty fag, I re-emerged into proceedings amidst the dying la la la's of Sink, so not sure how incomplete this set is.

Admittedly, most of the songs were unfamiliar to me - I think most are from the new Great Leap Forward (yes, they're back too) long player - but check out the great version of Debra at 12:51.

Photo purloined from the Facebook page of Mr. D. Carthy of Prestonshire.

The Great Leap Forward's debut Peel session is available to download @ Cliff Richard's Neck.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Factory Star - Marc Riley Session 15/07/2009

Early outing for Martin Bramah's current project Factory Star. The Hanley brothers were in the band at this point - at their own suggestion it now seems. Both would resign the following year - presumably to concentrate on day jobs and commitments to Tom Hingley - before recording Enter Castle Perilous commenced.

I much prefer this version of Stone Tumbling Stream  - Hop Man Jnr's entrancing keyboard run was mystifyingly absent on the album version. There's also some entertaining banter concerning (unsurprisingly) The Fall's formation and a long lost Buzzcocks bootleg.

More info @ the bands label Occultation.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Passmore Sisters - Peel Session 28/07/1985

The name may suggest a 1950s proto Lady Power groupette, some members of which would later marry famous football players from the Black Country, but they were in fact four males from Bradford. Formed in 1983 and active in the indie world at large between 1985-87, they recorded three sessions for the BBC (including one for Janice Long) and released four singles on a small label Sharp, run by a guy from Peterborough in his spare time when he wasn't working as a manager for a local supermarket.

Their sole album, First Love, Last Rites, collected highlights from the singles and radio sessions and appeared posthumously in 1988, the band citing reasons for their split in a blunt press statement: 'We listened to ourselves and decided we were crap'.

This was their first session for John which I recorded on the first night of broadcast on to a long lost cheapo tape from Boots and had not heard in over twenty years. Thankfully, Gideon Coe broadcast three songs from the session on his 6 Music show just last Tuesday.

1. Red  2. Story Of A Working Man  3. Shatter

Complete session (with Goodbye To The Girl) now available @ Fruitier Than Thou.

1. Dance This House Down  2. Goodbye To The Girl  3. Shatter