Tag Archives: music

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)

 

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Give My Love to Kevin: the return of My Bloody Valentine

12 Feb

MBV_YES

Well, it actually happened… the follow-up to My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” – released in 1991 and given a questionable remastering last year – is finally available. Nearly twenty-two years later, with no further warning than an aside by Kevin Shields at a recent Brixton Academy gig in which he replied to a lairy fan’s heckle about the likelihood of a new MBV platter within the forseeable future with a shouting of  “two or three days!”, something jumped upon by the digital music press. After all, after such a long wait – the hysteria which greeted The Stone Roses’ tardy follow-up “The Second Coming” soon turned to disappointment when it failed to live up to the lofty heights of its eponymous predecessor.

saint_kevin_mbv

And maybe it if this reference point we need to re-visit, to compare to the second coming (or the third coming, as “mbv” is – of course – the band’s third album “proper” when compendiums and reissues are ignored) of “My Bloody” (I distinctively recall annoying fans yelling “MY BLOODY!!” at the quartet’s memorable Rollercoaster gigs alongside Dinosaur Jr., The Jesus and Mary Chain and a pre-mega-fame Blur) especially when Madchester’s most infamous quartet (note I did say Madchester, not Manchester’s… obviously too many contenders for THAT title) rolled back into town for a series of triumphant reunion gigs last year.

Because, whereas the five years idled away between debut and (WARNING: irritating US music journalist word ahead) sophomore album the Roses built up an anticipation that couldn’t possibly be quenched by any album, by letting over an ENTIRE GENERATION go by between one much-loved (can I say “groundbreaking” yet?) album and the next – supposedly bankrupting Creation in his quest for a perfect sonic palette along the way – Kevin Shields replaced any possible whinges of “is THIS it?” with gasps of amazement that the album was actually being delivered at all. And as The Stone Roses themselves saw when their surprisingly successful return (I mean critically, any Roses reunion was obviously bound to be a star-studded sell-out) a real long absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

MBV1

Like anyone who remembers the hazy crazy days of shoegaze in the early 1990s with half an eye on the internets, I watched the build-up to the “album drop” on Twitter. In real time. Will it, won’t it… some people were floating the idea that midnight Saturday/Sunday would be as good a time as any, a bit like when the megastores (RIP) used to open at midnight for the new Madonna album or whatever, and sure enough at the stroke of midnight mybloodyvalentine.org sprung into life.

Or rather, for most people, it didn’t. Tweets began to fill my timeline that “Kevin Shields has broken the internet” and a few die-hard fans began to whine in a way eerily reminiscent of those let down by the technology when trying to purchase Kraftwerk tickets a few weeks previously. I managed to get on to the site after refreshing lord-knows-how-many times, when it crashed as soon as I clicked a button. Then I saw the album had been uploaded to YouTube… and then I decided to call it a night.

But next morning Mary Anne Hobbes blasted a medley of the whole album over the BBC 6Music airwaves and I knew that I had to purchase it, and preferably on vinyl as mp3 probably wouldn’t do 22 years of sonic tweaking justice. Plus there was an LP + CD + download bundle option available on the now smooth-running MBV site, and the word LIMITED alongside the vinyl details. I punched my info in and am still awaiting my package. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 22-odd years to arrive… after all this is the band whose last recorded effort as a quartet was a cover of “We Have All The Time In The World“.

MBV_B&W

I was going to do a track-by-track rundown of the mbv album (lower-case letters please) that has been on the iPod for around a whole week now but seeing that both Ned Raggett from The Quietus and Alexis Petridis from The Guardian have penned far greater reviews of this exhilarating long-player than this humble servant could ever hope to, you can read theirs instead (he said lazily). Nonetheless, my enthusiasm for “mbv” hasn’t been dimmed by a week of exposure, and although it is hardly a quantum leap from the intoxicating fuzz we fell in love with last time, the general standard of daytime-radio-friendly pop music has fallen so far (can YOU think of an early 90s irritant comparable to Guetta, Pitbull or the current slew of identikit boybands / urban soundalikes? Even Take Take that were almost bearable by comparison, ffs…) that the enchanting, dreamy, noisy wooze-pop that debatably kick-started “the scene that celebrates itself” (certain Bella Union bosses may beg to differ) was not only greeted with nostalgic glee but also as as breath of fresh air. Yes, the last track has a bit of a vintage drum-n-bass-wig-out edge to it, and in a couple of tracks Bilinda’s vocals are almost transcribable without a second listen, but there’s no doubt this is a My Bloody Valentine record. and a jolly fine one at that.

And what do the class of ’91 think of Kev and the gang’s return to our turntables? Emma from Lush tweeted that she “had heard a couple of tracks off YouTube on her “crappy laptop speaker” before proclaiming she was “gonna get the CD. Old school, yes”. Rachel from Slowdive opined – shortly after the album “dropped” – that she was “drowning in mbv”, and subsequently concurred with a follower that the album was “rather good” and that she “wouldn’t expect anything less”. Charlatan and sometime coffee man Tim Burgess described the album as “epic… loudly epic”, while David Gedge, the Ralf Hütter of The Wedding Present (and author of this post’s title, as you had probably spotted), protested he had “not had the chance yet” to hear the aforesaid recording and Boo Radley Martin Carr claimed to have been almost knocked down by a bus as he cycled home, enraptured by “mbv” on the headphones.

Meanwhile, from the world of football, Basque-born Spanish internationals past and present Gaizka Mendieta and Xabi Alonso both tweeted My Bloody Valentine related-links, with “only tomorrow” being a favourite of the Madridista. One Spanish tweeter pondered that if Xabi were allowed first dibs on the Real Madrid changing room sound system their unfortunate league trajectory could probably be dramatically reversed thanks to the power of MBV riffs.

To conclude, I would add that you could do a lot worse than investing in a hard copy of “mvb”, preferably on vinyl, or failing that on CD.

And when the package finally arrives… PLAY IT LOUD.

(Black & White mbv album shot as manipulated by The Richardson Fosters on flickr)

BONUS CONTENT FOR NOSTALGISTS:

* My Bloody Valentine Peel Session from 1988

* Shonen Knife – When You Sleep (MBV cover from “Yellow Loveless” – Japan only tribute album)

* Uncut SNUB TV interview with Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher (and Bobby Gillespie)

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 :/

Spirit of Peel: Ted Chippington Greetings Cards

19 Oct


John Peel’s favourite brothel-creepered prematurely-balding deadpan comedian from Stoke-on-Trent was, as you may have seen around these parts a year or so ago, one Francis Smythe, better known to thee and me and Stewart Lee as the one and only Ted Chippington.

I would love to be able to offer you the fantastic gig Peel broadcast from the Royal Iris Ferry where Ted was lambasted as per usual by a (probably drunken) audience, but as that seems impossible to find (even Peter Hooton couldn’t help, and he was there!) instead I am going to give you a preview of my own Ted-inspired creations, the Ted Chippington greetings cards which, in an ideal world would be gracing the mantelpieces of the United Kingdom on various special days throughout the year, but in reality would probably sit in a cardboard box at the back of a newsagent’s somewhere.

For multiple Ted Chippington – related mirth head on over to Frankosonic’s blog (click just there) where I believe he has even posted something new in the last weeks or so.

Oh, and good evening.

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!

Home taping didn’t kill music (Happy Birthday John)

30 Aug

Image
Today, 30th August 2012, would have been John Peel’s 73rd birthday.

73 isn’t a particular number of note (his wife had a collection of 78s as I recall, or was it her pick of his 78s.. not sure..) but it is always worth celebrating the life of the man who in his own way fomented the eclectic tastes of so many of us and who, for people of a certain age (my age and older, I suppose) who lived out their student years before the so-called interweb, was sometimes the sole or at least the initial conduit into a world of music outside the traditional realms of Top of the Pops, although of course many of the musicians he gave an initial airing to would go on to be staples of such programmes.. but that’s another story.

Just as many today would scour music blogs and cheeky content sites trying to find interesting new-to-me music for no money, their counterparts of the 1980s (and before) would sit listening to John Peel’s programme at 10.00 pm on the one-time-wunnerful Radio One (“275 – 285, and stereo V-H-F”) with sweaty fingers paused over rec and play. Downloading a podcast from 6Music or listening to Zane Lowe or whoever on the iPlayer doesn’t really match up in the “magic memory” stakes, however fantastic Stuart Maconie’s musical taste is (and it is, believe me). And just as we would tape the songs off Peel’s programme (or in some cases, just leave the thing running and tape the whole programme), young men and women up and down the country would be inspired to start their own bands, record a demo tape and send it to the BBC for him to hear. Some with the idea of becoming professional musicians, others just keen to meet the approval of their revered tastemaker. Peel usually listened to these tapes in his car while driving to Broadcasting House, or wherever, and once quipped that he imagined many listeners imagined he would be more than happy to meet his maker in a road accident while trying to decipher a cassette inlay. Something he made quite clear was not the case!

Tapes were central to John Peel’s BBC shows, whether they were specially-recorded ones he received in the post from bands, African cassettes sent from foreign parts (like.. er.. Africa) or the cratefuls of TDKs and BASFs that were used to record his shows by listeners like me (and quite possibly by you as well).

Which leads on to the tapes themselves.  Thanks to the web you’re reading this on now, collaborative projects like the fantastic John Peel Wiki compile months and months of Ravenscroft-selected broadcasts, from semi-muffled recordings of  The Perfumed Garden and Top Gear (the pre-Clarkson, even pre-Woollard Top Gear – the “gear” in question probably being a drug reference than anything motor-related) where the great man spoke in what seems a fairly posh-but-weedy voice to crystal-clear digital DAB recordings in the 21st century… recordings of the wise-but-sufficiently-with-it-but-not-embarrassingly-so dad we never had or the one we would have liked to evolve into ourselves one day.

The equally wonderful John Peel Archive, who are currently working their way though Peelie’s “hallowed shelves” a hundred records at a time (100 records per letter, A-Z), have also been keeping their own collaborative documentation of those cassettes on which we tapers recorded Peel’s shows. I myself thought I was being incredibly original in calling one of my “taped off the radio” cassettes “Mixed Peel” until I saw that someone on the Peel Archive Pinterest page had posted photos of his own collection including one with the same name (along with an “Orange Peel”, an “Emma Peel” and so on).

So here are some of my “original” custom-made Festive Fifty cassette inlays from the mid to late 80s, my “golden era” of listening to John Peel. These were the days of photocopied fanzines, of Rotring pens and Letraset, of Pritt Stick and typewriters that jammed. A colour photocopy was a thing of wonder, and nobody owned their own printer. In fact, mention the word “printer” to a sixteen-year-old schoolkid in the 1980s and they’d probably think of orange xerox-mecca Prontaprint or Mr Munnings out of Trumpton.

Looking back on these lovingly-prepared covers (who said “sad bastard” back there?) I really don’t think I could have imagined making such an effort for any of Peel’s contemporaries, even though I regularly listened to Janice Long, Kid Jensen and Annie Nightingale (as well as Mike Allen on Capital and other stuff) and enjoyed most of the music. I no longer own a working tape recorder as various Walkmen, ghettoblasters and tape-to-tape separates have long given up the ghost. Occasionally I dip into the very programmes that live in the cases you see here, recorded by someone else at the same time I was listening (these shows – at least to my knowledge – were never re-broadcast on Radio One) and digitised by that same person or those same persons with more technical flair than myself.

Home taping didn’t kill music, you see. It saved it. For posterity.

Here are some links to some site with shows originally preserved on tape:

Now to start digging around for something for Keeping It Peel day, October’s not that far away!

Last week’s new genre

22 Aug

I have to admit I have made a point of avoiding Justin Beiber.

Not at parties or in the pub or anything (I’m sure he couldn’t even place my country of residence on a map let alone hunt down a pub here), but as a phenomenon. I had seen his vaguely emo-combed hair and his probably prepubescent mush gurning from a flyposter that barked of him being a NEW TEEN SENSATION or something similar, and I was also vaguely aware of an internet campaign to send the lad on a tour of North Korea, as well as having encountered his seemingly obsessive hopefully female barmy army on Twitter.

But I had, until now, managed to avoid his music.

But when I heard it, I rather liked it.

Probably because the version I heard was a more eclectic reworking than when Andy Weatherall turned I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have into Loaded. A fellow under the nom-de-plume of Shamanti had the bizarre idea of putting the TEEN SENSATION’s latest piece of throwaway pop pap through some timestretching gizmo, slowing it down by 800%  and transforming it into as into a 35-minute aural extravaganza that had stultified listeners like myself, dj’s, music journos and many more muttering words like “ambient”, “bliss”,”Eno”, “balearic”,”Cocteaus”, “sonic cathedrals” and the like. Even no less a luminary than Mr. Rob daBank himself described the track as “lush”.

This was last week.

Now a new site called Slow It Up has been created to deal with similar creations, and already both Frank Sinatra and Miley “can’t be tamed” Cyrus have been put on the digital equivalent of the medieval rack to similar effect.

But hats off to Shamantis, who had the idea in the first place. Which begs the question… if you play Music For Airports or Higher Than the Sun 800x faster, would you have a US-radio-friendly pop hit on your hands? And is someone going to try the Slow it Up trick with Original Nuttah?

J. BIEBZ – U SMILE 800% SLOWER by Shamantis

SlowItUp website

Balearic Beats

14 May

Never been to Ibiza meself.

Unless you count the Madrid metro station, in which case yes I have been there a few times… but the music was crap.

I do have a few “Balearic” twelve inch singles on my shelves, though… and these fellows calling themselves the Balearic Brothers have done a nice little mix.

So we can forgive their mispronunciation of the word “balearic”
( it’s “bal-ee-ar-ick”, chaps) at the start of it.

Enjoy.

The Balearic Brothers – What Is Balearic? by Balearic Jukebox

Oh… and while we’re here, here is another link to some other Balearic mixes, featuring names as unlikely as Phil Collins and Simply Red alongside The Orb, Saint Etienne, “Loaded” and the rest of ’em.

Don’t forget this was a genre that boasted remixes of Chris Rea and David Gray as “club classics”!