Tag Archives: keeping it peel

Keeping it Peel: Remembering John, a decade on

25 Oct

peelbigpic

Today – Saturday 25th October – marks the tenth anniversary of the day we lost John Peel, who, in the days before 6Music, Spotify, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, YouTube and a myriad of music blogs from the shinily corporate to the shoddily pirate, showed the discerning music enthusiast a planet of sound quite often far removed from that on the daytime airwaves but also one that often was a window onto future popular taste.

Although eclectic radio shows are now another genre on yr TuneIn app, Peel almost invented the concept, with the aim of introducing the curious listener to new artists, bands and genres outside the traditional comfort zone. Similarly, Peel would seemingly be constantly reinventing the content of his shows: discarding prog rock for punk rock, snubbing indie guitars for dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass, irking the purists with his ambivalence towards The Stone Roses and Springsteen and his love of happy hardcore. Whilst apologising for being a slightly podgy middle-aged man who sometimes let studio technology get the better of him.

Like his beloved Fall, always different, always the same.

JohnPeel276

Many forget that Peel – in his later years and Home Truths days often considered The Greatest Living Englishman or something of a National Treasure – was actually quite a man of the world. As well as his celebrated night time Radio One programme, he also recorded programmes specifically made for German, Finnish, Austrian and Dutch audiences while additionally recording for Armed Forces network BFBS and also for the BBC World Service. He also cut his broadcasting teeth on KLIF, KOMA and KMEN in the US, the latter of which – despite sounding like a superhero legion or a niche magazine – was actually a radio station in San Bernardino, Californ-i-a. And as well as being broadcasted in various areas of the globe, Peel also played music from bands with unpronounceable names from Zimbabwe, China, Japan, Belgium and Wales.

He even played a Hindi cover of an ABBA song, which combined his love of songs in foreign tongues with his love of Eurovision.

With such a global reach, it may come as no surprise that there are pockets of Peel-respecting indiedom in places such as Yogyakarta, Indonesia or Chonburi province, Thailand.

Here he is a little closer to home, in Germany, in a TV special called John Peel’s Autobahn Blues, where he drives his ageing Merc between various German cities, visiting record shops, radio stations and even meeting up with Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle.




Out in the US Peel does have a vague cult following – having “broken” some American artists that could have stayed on the fringes of parochial sub-stardom if not for the exposure garnered by a few plays or indeed a session on his show, Nirvana and The White Stripes being just two better-known examples. This special – for “Big Apple” station WNYC – attempts to introduce the John Peel Archive as the hoardings of “Britain’s Supercollector”, with Tom from the Archive itself and Sheila (Ravenscroft – “The Pig”) on the blower and Lee Ranaldo out of Sonic Youth on hand to reminisce over recording various Peel Sessions.

* John Peel’s Record Collection on WNYC (2012) (stream or download)

Further afield, as well as the World Service programmes, Peel disciples got a treat when the man himdself turned up at an Auckland radio station when on holiday in those parts in 2002. New Zealand music, most notably The Go-Betweens and The Chills, had been given an international boost by Peel’s patronage, and luckily one listener taped the whole thing for posterity.

Our hero even got to visit Russia in the dying days of the Soviet Union to reveal the local music scene to be somewhat more than balalaikas and mulleted Deep Purple impersonators. The result was recorded for Radio One, and is now a fascinating document of Russian music culture before Putin and Pussy Riot.

* John Peel’s Russia (download only)

John’s linguistic prowess was – by his own admission – not impressive, but he usually made an effort to pronounce the names of at least the European bands and their non-English song titles that arrived on a variety of formats at Broadcasting House. German seems to be his most convincing attempt, oddly the same as Mark E. Smith of The Fall who claimed he himself learnt some rudimentary German in order to make sure the band got paid during his many tours of the country. It was a while before John discovered the meaning of Yo La Tengo, although that was only because Andy Kershaw, who apparently boasts a Spanish A-Level, told him.

Nonetheless, he often joked that his popularity in Holland came from the fact that the name Peel is a homophone for the male appendage in Dutch.

Additionally he regretted not being able to speak or understand Welsh, despite having a soft spot for Welsh-speaking bands such as Melys, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Ahnreven  Anghreven Anngrvhin Gryff Rhys.

Japanese acts were also popular at Peel Acres, with John playing music by Cornelius, Shonen Knife, Melt-Banana and Polysics, as well as the inimitable Frank Chickens (who actually got a TV SHOW out of being Peel favourites, here’s an episode with Frank Sidebottom AND John Cooper Clarke .

* Frank Chickens Peel Session (download only)

Regrettably, it was a foreign trip to Peru that was robbed us all of the great man’s talents forever ten years ago to this very day, but thankfully we have the tapes, the uploads, YouTube, the Peel Wiki, The John Peel Archive  and Keeping It Peel to help us remember… along with a plethora of tweeters, bloggers and specialist radio stations.

And finally, here’s a smattering of the truly international world service provided by Mr. John Peel, yours to take away (apart from the video, obvs):

Firstly, the authentic Cold War Radio experience replicated, a Russian shortwave recording of a 1987 BBC World Service broadcast cassette, with godawful reception, bits edited out and everything:

* John Peel Show on BFBS Forces Radio (mysteriously undated)

* Peel on Rock Radio, Finland (1987)

* John Peel on Radio Mafia, Finland (1991) [may contain festive references]

* John Peel on Radio Eins, Germany (2003)

* Peel Tribute, Bayern Radio 2, Germany (2014)

Gone, but not forgotten.

Advertisements

Diamond Geezer: John Peel’s 75th Birthday

30 Aug

 

peel-working-cans

Today, 30th August 2014, would have been broadcaster extraordinaire and patron saint of music lovers John Peel’s 75th birthday.

Those wanting further information about the great man would be well advised to seek out other posts on this blog or to go to the outstanding Keeping It Peel website, the official John Peel Archive or the exhaustive John Peel Wiki.

But let’s remember the most influential DJ on British radio by recalling his 40th and 50th birthday celebrations on the radio, the latter of which consisted largely of a surprise concert laid on by friends and family featuring a number of his favourite bands. while remembering his dry sense of humour where he laid bare his comedic influences in a radio programme in 1981.

Happy 75th John, wherever you are.

* John Peel’s 40th Birthday programme

* John Peel’s 50th Birthday programme

* John Peel on “It Makes Me Laugh” (1981)

 

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

Image

Tomorrow is the day we’re Keeping it Peel

24 Oct

 

kiP2013_correct

You know what to do.

Sheffield Peel II: a Peel Session selection

26 Oct

Many of the celebrated Sheffield bands from then and now have visited the BBC Studios at Maida Vale to record a session for John Peel, and – without further ado – here is a choice selection of them.

The Human League, in their pre-chart-topping lineup of Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh alongside Phil “Philip” Oakey, recorded a Peel Session in the August of 1978 – mere months after their live debut at what was then Psalter Lane Art College (and now part of Sheffield Hallam University) that June.

A formative “Being Boiled” and a novel take on “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” are accompanied by “No Time” and the 12-minute-plus epic “Blind Youth”.

You can take it away HERE

Warp-certified bleepsters and Speak-and-Spell owners LFO recorded a Peel Session in 1990.

Take Control, To the Limit, Rob’s Nightmare and Lost World were the tracks featured.

Take it away HERE

John was a bit partial to Cabaret Voltaire, who recorded the above session in 1984, which kicks off with a superior version of Sleepwalking.

Other tracks are Big Funk and The Operative.

The Comsat Angels are often talked about in reverential tones by later Sheffield indie bands, and above these words you can find the first of what seems to be a grand total of four Peel Sessions (although it could be just two, played twice), from 1980.

Tracks were: Real StoryMonkey PilotWaiting For A Miracle and Home Is The Range.

Artery were fondly remembered by Jarvis Cocker in his recent radio reminisces on his formative years in his native Sheffield, recently aired by BBC 6Music in their recent “Sheffield Sunday” tribute to the (ahem) one-time steeltown. If I remember rightly, he even mentioned that the drummer went out with his (Jarvis’) sister! Never really broke through to cult status outside Sheffield, but they still managed to attract the ears of Mr Ravenscroft who got them in to record the above session in 1982.

Tracks were: The Ghost Of A Small Tour Boat Captain,  Louise (no relation to the Human League song of the same name years later), The Slide and The Sailor Situation.

If any of this has awoken your curiosity about Sheffield bands (I couldn’t find the ABC Peel Session anywhere, and Heaven 17 never did a Peel Session despite – I believe – making the Festive Fifty) your first port of call should be the Sheffield Vision website. Their “The Beat Is The Law” film looks good too.

And I didn’t mention Arctic Monkeys once.

Ah.

Sheffield Peel: Part I – Pulp at Peel Acres

24 Oct

Well today is Keeping It Peel day, the anniversary of what some refer to as “the day the music died” – the day John Peel shuffled off his mortal coil (and no, I won’t make that 4AD-related quip again) – the day a lot of us abandoned Radio One for good. Well, at least after the tribute programmes that is.

We at We Love All That Towers  are not averse to a bit of calculated punnery, and so while our title cocks a sly wink (or what ever it is) at Joe Cocker’s 1982 album – and that the gravel-voiced Sheffielder recorded a Peel Session in 1969 – it is another Cocker that we wish to feature in today’s homage to Mr. Ravenscroft Sr.

Possibly the most determined band in the history of “alternative” music – Pulp, fronted by the inimitable Jarvis Cocker – took approximately SIXTEEN YEARS from their formation as “Arabicus Pulp” in 1978 to their first Top 40 hit with Do You Remember The First Time and the MTV Europe favourite Babies, the forerunners of Common People, Mis-shapes, Sorted For Es and Wizz, Disco 2000 and the rest – coinciding with the love-it-or-hate-it Britpop explosion the following year, the year from which our first audio takeaway is extracted.

Clipping filched from the more-than-thorough Pulp Wiki

Jarvis was always a huge fan of John Peel, and John was an ardent supporter of his band’s music, despite their persistent abject failure to develop anything more than a small cult following during Pulp’s first fifteen years or so. FIFTEEN YEARS. That’s the recording career of The Beatles PLUS the recording career of The Smiths. But without the hits or the fans or even the favourable reviews. Yet, ever a champion of the underdog (see Dandelion Records!) Peel kept playing the records and in turn Pulp kept putting them out.

So, at the height of their fame, instead of chumming up to the likes of Steve Wright or his cohorts on daytime Radio One, Jarvis and drummer Nick Banks (nephew of legendary England keeper Gordon Banks, footy fans) visited Peel Acres (one of the first musicians to do so… after David Gedge of The Wedding Present and “a Dutch band“, allegedly) and got a guided tour of the great man’s gaff before airing both highlights of the then-forthcoming “Different Class” (UK listeners’ exclusive first chance to hear the album… remember this was in the years before music blogs and online album leaks) and an unearthing of Pulp’s first recorded Peel Session – from 1981! , much to the embarrassment of Peelie who admits he’d presumed the band had recorded umpteen sessions for his programme since then, but evidently not (none at all in fact, between that ’81 session and 1993). Jarvis also admits to recording Peel’s shows off the radio and tries to find some Half Japanese on the hallowed record shelves. Björk’s house, breasts (in general, not Björk’s), Glastonbury, Scunthorpe baths and Jarvis’ estranged dad’s beard (and Peel’s) are also discussed, while early on it is revealed that Peel Acres is home to a dog called Bernard (after Mr. Sumner, perhaps?).

The genuine mutual appreciation – far removed the usual smug fakery often heard in popstar-meets-established-music-broadcaster that was par for the course in Britpop-blunted Britain – is evident, and shortly following Peel’s untimely death on this day eight years ago Jarvis went on to record a moving tribute to our hero which you can find on this old post I wrote when the Pulp frontman went round the countryside recording sounds for the National Trust. The clicky-clicky bit is at the end, and the last time I checked it, it still worked.

Anyway here is the Peel “Pulpathon” (his words, not mine), in an edited (but not very much) version fleetingly uploaded by the elusive das Boy to the general internet consciousness last month… and salvaged for posterity by yours truly:

Pulp on John Peel, September 30th 1995

Plus, here’s a YouTube-d up session that the band recorded when they returned to Peel Acres six years later, around the time of swansong album We Love Life:

Jury is still out on whether Jarvis’ beard is a sly tip of the “respect” hat to Peelie’s though.

But as an extra extra bonus here’s a clip of Jarvis reminiscing in a kitchen about handing the early Pulp demo tape over to John in person that won the band that first Peel session back in 1981, when Jarvis was just 17.

Looks like he was sprouting the beard already.

(Press clipping cheekily filched from the more-than-thorough Pulp Wiki)

Oh, and WATCH THIS SPACE today for “Sheffield Peel Part II”… with a few tasty take-aways!

Countdown to Keeping it Peel!

24 Oct

What better way to count down to Keeping it Peel 2012 (tomorrow – 25th October) than by these handy ten-to-twelve-minute Festive Fifty chart rundowns, starting in 1982.

As a nod to The mighty Fall (who unsurprisingñly, feature heavily), these are the FFs 80s – 90s.

Hats off to YouTuber “John Peel” (blimey, there’s a coincidence) for stitching it all together.

EDIT: Well in true John Peel style I suppose this is the virtual equivalent of playing the records at the wrong speed.

I will try and remedy this in due course :/

New music in the Spirit of Peel: Pegasvs

23 Oct


It was on Twitter that an esteemed Catalonia-based “follower” introduced me to the sounds of the mighty Pegasvs, a two – piece electronic “combo” from that part of the world that sometimes likes to declare that it “is not Spain“.

But far from espousing Catalan nationalism (neither member of the band is actually from Barcelona: singer Luciana is from Argentina while producer Sergio is originally from Asturias) the sounds of Krautrock-y melodic discord (dischord?), the experimental noise of the Radiophonic Workshop and the likeable drone of early Stereolab appear to be the influences of this listener can discern from their excellent eponymous debut album which was released on iTunes at a dirt-cheap recession-friendly price that propelled it into the iTunes top 3 downloads that week.

The likes of The Quietus, Frenchbloke, Soundhog and venerable Mixclouder Mixless have sung the band’s  praises since hearing this sonic slice of excitement since it came out earlier this year. But don’t just take my word for it, you can stream the whole album here. If you like it, why not (gasp) buy it here, on vinyl and freshly old-school CD.

While you’re at it you can also catch this live clip of a new soundtrack (in the footsteps of the likes of Moroder or the Pet Shop Boys) Pegasvs composed for a screening of cult German film “Das Kabinett von Doktor Caligari” here:

I’m sure Peelie would have loved ’em.

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!

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!