Tag Archives: peel session

Tomorrow is the day we’re Keeping it Peel

24 Oct



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.


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!

Spirit of Peel: new music from a distant shore – Delfloria

11 Oct

John Peel, for all his Liverpudlian (ish) charm, was truly a man of the world. Seen above in traditional Mexican headgear accompanied by his night-time Radio One “Rhythm Pal” Kid “David” Jensen on Top of the Pops, Peel would regularly play music from places like Zimbabwe, Slovenia, Düsseldorf or Hull to name but four exotic locations from which he received records through the post or from specialist shops, and often subsequently invited them to Maida Vale to record a session.

Even though noted Japanophile Momus once opined that Peel didn’t care for Japanese pop , he did play Pizzicato Five and Cornelius (unless I am mistaken) and famously introduced Shonen Knife to a wider world. I also recall him playing a Japanese language version of Paul Hardcastle’s poptastic ‘Nam stutterer “19” when the song made number one on the UK Top 40. Polysics also recorded a session which, if the links still work, you can sample here.

Often when Peel came across a “foreign” record on his travels he had little or no information on the musicians responsible, which obviously didn’t stop him playing it. So, in keeping with his tradition of playing tracks from unknown bands singing in foreign languages, we present Delfloria from Japan.

Hailing from Osaka, Japan’s second city (not quite an eastern version of Birmingham, but… as you were), Delfloria appears to be a singer-songwriter with a guitar, vaguely influenced by Cornelius song structure and by Saint Etienne and Weller’s “English Rose”. She (or, indeed they) also follow Heavenly Records on Soundcloud, which might be a clue.

Have a listen to a track called “Tea”, why don’t you:

If you like what you hear there are a couple more songs on that Soundcloud page here, which also has a link to a website that seems to be broken.

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!