Friday, 4 July 2014

Number One Cup - Peel Sessions 1996-1997

John Peel Session 11/03/1997

One and only bonafide Peel session by Chicago's Number One Cup. Although the Keeping It Peel site lists two sessions as having been recorded, the 1996 sesh was in fact a live broadcast for a holidaying Mark Radcliffe in which Uncle John was guest presenting.

Their fleeting brush with mainstream pop stardom behind them, the group returned to the UK to promote second album Wrecked By Lions. But as this session demonstrates, they were already forging ahead by showcasing tracks from what would turn out to be their last long player, People People Why Are We Fighting, as well as a bizarre re-arrangement of The Monkey Song, a track the group had recorded twice previously, the first version as a limited edition 7" single, the second as b side to Malcolm's X-Ray Picnic and as a hidden track on the vinyl edition of Wrecked By Lions.

Vintage Male Singer
The New Virginian
The Monkey Song
Mark Radcliffe Session 18/03/1996

Uncle John guest presented the show for the week while Radcliffe was holidaying in Kenya. For those of us who first discovered and grew up with Peel in the 70s/80s, it must have been heartwarming to hear him return to his old 10pm-midnight slot - a position he'd been ousted from in 1988 after a conservative rescheduling which saw him replaced by Nicky Campbell and briefly moved to a 90 minute early evening show four days a week.

Approximately a year after this show was aired, Radcliffe and Mark "Lard" Riley would decamp to an ill-fated stint on Radio 1's coveted breakfast show, allowing Peel to return to his more familiar slot for the remainder of his broadcastig career.

At the time of this session, the UK was still on amber Britpop alert: limp-wristed verbal sparrings between Blur and Oasis hit the headlines; Jarvis Cocker mooned at Michael Jackson on national television; Ash turned down world tour support slots with Pearl Jam in favour of completing college exams. Amid all this overbloated melee, Chicago-based Number One Cup, seemingly out of nowhere, managed to grab a piece of the limelight and score a minor UK Top 40 hit with Divebomb.

Unfairly lumbered in some critical circles as the poor man's Pavement, N1C, amid the lo-fi noodlings that padded out debut album "Possum Trot Plan", proved to have a more melodic ear for pop songcraft and a lyrical humour that didn't require frying the listener's brain cells to appreciate.

As this live session proves, the band had already moved on from that debut album's sound, turning up the volume and souping up a blend of crunchy garage pop, diy grunge and cheesy psychedelia, which would eventually be preserved on 1997's Wrecked By Lions album.

Sadly, Divebomb proved to be the group's commercial peak, and, perhaps inevitably, will be the one track they'll be remembered for - or possibly the song will be remembered rather than the band itself. But here at Maggot Caviar we feel the Number One Cup revival is long overdue, and their three albums, without doubt, worthy of re/investigation.
Malcolm's X-Ray Picnic
Waiting For The Lions

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