Tag Archives: john peel day

Keeping it Peel, nine years on (with Boards of Canada in session)

24 Oct

john peel in a boat

Nine years after the man who taught so many of us the importance of opening our ears to “different” music – music often far removed from  the mundane daytime fare of the popular airwaves – left us without an appointed heir, we at We All That Towers (okay, I’ll “fess up”, it’s only me) are still keeping it Peel.

I won’t go on about the artists who became celebrated international recording talents of note or cult heroes to a bedroom army of home-tapers or EVEN about those genres which went from underground to overground (not the Wombles, get a grip!) years after John expressed a preference, mainly because I’ve done that before.

Around this time.

And often.

But as we show our annual respects and doff our collective music-lover’s caps at the church of Peel, (a lot of which is handily frozen in time at the splendiferous John Peel Achive at The Space) are we actually keeping the spirit of the great man alive?

One of John Peel’s unique gifts was his enthusiasm for any untapped vein of music or his notion that hidden somewhere on a poorly recorded demo tape was the next Duane Eddy or whoever. New music is out there, and in my next post I am going to patronisingly explain how to find it to those of you who, like my weary self, feel that they are losing their edge in a James Murphy-like way.

Just as all those years ago, business types had typists or secretaries who would do a lot of the tiresome stuff like booking hotel rooms or typing up documents freeing up more valuable time to play golf, nine years ago (and before, obviously) we had John Peel to steer us through the mire of alternative music in its various forms and select the good stuff for our eclectic ears’ delight. And just as in the modern office of today only the creme de la creme of corporate top management are afforded the luxury of a personal secretary or PA, while most rank and file office bods have to do the typing and so on themselves. Without external help.

And with one finger if necessary ( * coughs *).

Surely the best way to pay tribute to the John Peel is to discover some quality new music and spread the good word, as he himself dedicated his working life to doing?

Do it yourself?

Wasn’t that the essence of punk, or post-punk, or C86 or whatever?

As the clip below shows, even when nominally kow-towing to his Radio One paymasters, Peel could still worm in a cheeky plug for his favourite Salford band the way that no-one else would have the audacity to do.

Yet the day does provide us with an opportunity to look back and celebrate all manner of great music from skiffle to happy hardcore and back again. Keeping-it-Peel-the-website will be doing this all day, and they, I and various like-minded Peel disciples will be tweeting at you over the next 24 hours with links to session tracks, tribute shows, TV specials, articles and whatnot. I’ve been “ordered” not to mention The Fall – presumably to show this is a “special day” unlike all the other days I tweet about the “mighty” Fall (Peel’s coinage, naturally) – but I can’t promise you that.

But I will leave you with a rather splendid end-of-an-era show where John had Boards of Canada in for a session.

Years before talk of “hauntology” or limited promos hidden in record shops around the world.

Enjoy it, and if you do the Twitter thang, be sure to hashtag your Peel memories or links with a #keepingitpeel hashtag-thing.

And here is the master, at work, fifteen years ago:

John Peel Show, with Boards of Canada in session, 1998

Spirit of Peel: Cocteau Twins mixtape

9 Oct

Image

Of the vast panoply of fresh, exiting, exotic and sometimes just plain odd stuff played by John Peel in the 80’s (when the We Love All That ghetto blaster was most frequently “locked” to Radio One between the hours of nine p.m and midnight), certain bands became staples. Often these bands were white boys with guitars from somewhere north of Watford: The Smiths, The Fall, The Wedding Present, New Order etc. While Peel himself loved and championed these bands he often lamented that he would have preferred to see a few more reggae, electro, rap or African records in his listener-voted Festive Fifty at the end of each year instead of the same old same old which clogged up the charts each Yuletide, rather like bland daytime pop dominating the regular Top 40.

Another such white guitar-wielding combo from north of Watford was Cocteau Twins, fronted as any fule kno by Elizabeth “Liz” Frazer… a vocalist for whom the word “ethereal” was invented. I would love to wax (and, indeed, wane) lyrical on her original inventive lyrical and vocal style which would alternately harangue and caress the ears of the listener, but knowing that this fellow on the official (?) Cocteau Twins website has done a far better job than I ever could, just click the link and read his in-depth analysis in your own sweet time.

In 1991 Peel even scrapped that year’s Festive Fifty due to the predictability of said hit parade, although he eventually caved in to his disappointed listeners and belatedly broadcast a “Phantom Fifty” in 1993, playing just two songs (or was it just one?) A WEEK. The whole chart has been lovingly collated and sewn together by venerable home taping curator Rico here, with bits of Peelie chatting before and after the tracks as befits the occasion.

But back to Cocteau Twins, who made an earth-shattering SEVENTEEN appearances over the lifespan of the Festive Fifty and were the fifth most popular act in the eyes and ears of those who sent their postcards to Peel and Walters for the chart (we can safely presume The Fall were sitting “pretty” in pole position), and a chance discovery made on the interweb this morning that I just HAD to share… a two hour (ish) Cocteau Twins mixtape, with talky bits and everything! Compiled and – nay – mixed by one Silinder, it’s a mix (an actual mix) of well-known and more obscure “cuts”… and you can even download it if you’re fast enough. Hats off, not to Harper, but to Silinder… and enjoy the (ahem) sonic cathedrals and celestial castles of Elizabeth Frazer, Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde:

Will you be Keeping it Peel? New music alert forthcoming!

5 Oct

Will YOU be Keeping it Peel this 25th of October?

As is common practice we at We Love All That Towers certainly will, with a special treat lined up for the day itself, looking back at something or other that appeared on the late, great man’s Radio One show.

But to get you in the mood this month, we’ll also be posting some new music by new bands / musicians who sadly will now never get the chance to record a Peel Session or get their stuff played on his show.

Because although we love to reminisce about the vast panoply of music and musicians Peel helped break through to mainstream success, “inky” music paper kudos or just a small cult following, a lot of his raison d’etre (as his beloved Belgians may well have said, well…  the Walloon variety anyway) was to give an airing to those new artists he felt didn’t have a place on daytime radio – from The Faces, The Pink Floyd and the Pistols to Half Man Half Biscuit, Misty In Roots and happy hardcore.

Peel didn’t live to see what M.E.S. may have called “dubstep’s dream debased“, but he was playing that now-oh-so-ubiquitous genre in its infancy before his untimely death in 2004. Artists that may now be 6Music staples or commercial radio classics who were once considered too “weird” or “different” for airplay. Even Public Enemy who just scored a top five UK hit with a five-year old song were given a first UK airing on Peel’s programme (and Peel got a back cover credit on their album as a thank you).

Madonna once sang that “music makes the people come together” while going on to emote (in a faux-patois) that “music mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel“. Peel played music that made the spotty indie kid, the spliffed-out raggamuffin, the wide-eyed raver, the lank-haired deathcore aficionado and lovers of all genres sit up and open their ears, not just to reflections of their own musical preferences but to a wider sonic “church” (and a fair few sonic cathedrals, but let’s not go there now).

Obviously, We Love All That is no John Peel, but this October – allowing for the usual distractions – we will try and post some new music from people you probably haven’t heard before, partially as a hat-tip to the man upstairs.

So, as I said around this time last year… keep ’em Peeled!

Remember, remember, the 25th of October…

20 Oct

We’ll be Keeping It Peel next Tuesday.

But here’s a tune to play in the meanwhile…

Grinderswitch -Pickin’ The Blues (download)

Keeping it Peel

25 Oct

Six years.

Six years since John Peel shuffled off his mortal coil (not This Mortal Coil.. oh you know…) in Cuzco, Peru and left behind him a legacy of music from Bowie to Bogshed, from C86 “shamblers” to happy hardcore, old skool hip-hop to Brit Pop, prog to punk, M.E.S to D & B etc, etc, etc.

Six years in which the sales of CDs have fizzled out, vinyl has returned to the non-specialist record shops and ringtones and glorified karaoke singers have swamped the ears of our ever more homogenous youth.

There are, of course, those who bravely try to follow the great man’s example – Rob Da Bank, Jarvis Cocker, 6Music in general, but that combination of enthusiasm, championing the new from all fields of the musical spectrum and an overwhelming love of The Fall is a hard act to follow. It was thanks to Peelie that I first heard the indie heroes of my youth – New Order, The Cure, The Smiths – but also heard what was then known as electro, old blues records, dub reggae, and.. er.. more indie subgenres. His programmes also cemented friendships between myself and my oldest friends who often met up in one friend’s big-ish bedroom to listen to records bought on the back of hearing them on his Radio One programme… Psychocandy being a prime example.

So first up, to celebrate the great man’s anniversary, here is my commemorative Spotify playlist. Lots of session tracks in there, plus Festive Fifty favourites and my own Peel show memories. Sadly Ted Chippington, Bogshed, Eton Crop and Billy Bragg’s first album are not very well represented on Spotify so you’ll have to make do with the below:

Keep ‘Em Peeled

Oh, and I almost forgot… for Keeping It Peel I’m meant to include a favourite Peel Session, aren’t I?

Well, I’m sure no-one else will be posting this one… *coughs* …

Back in the midsts of the early 1980s Peel played a track by a German band whose name translated as The Dead Trousers – Die Toten Hosen, who had a 7″ called Bommerlunder which was basically a hymn/drunken paean to a rather potent schapps or something similar. Peel became quite enamoured with the track and subsequently acquired the band’s debut album Opel-Gang and played tracks fom it on the show despite it being all in German. The band – with names like Trini Trinpop, Campino, Breiti and Andi – then got in contact with Peel (or was it the other way round) and a partially English language session was recorded in Maida Vale. I recorded it on a C90 many years ago, but it found its way onto the web, and here it is below to enjoy again, with bits of Peelie himself talking between the tracks.

Die Toten Hosen later recorded a great hip-hop collaboration version of Bommerlunder called Hip-Hop Bommi Bop with Fab Five Freddy which I loved but never “did” anything chart-wise. The band did however become a stadium-filling cartoonish punk band (imagine Green Day if they hadn’t heard any ska records and sang in German) in their native land, complete with a new drummer called Vom (not his given name, I’d wager). In fact so massive did they become that in Germany you can even buy a Toten Hosen Sing Star karaoke thing for your PlayStation!

Die Toten Hosen – John Peel Session 1984

Die Toten Hosen – Hip Hop Bommi Bop

Die Toten Hosen – Bommerlunder

Oh, and on the band’s website you can find a video to the original Bommerlunder, re-recorded… in Polish.

Raise a glass to the late, great John Peel!