Ok, hands up, I don’t know what I was thinking. 14 tunes were never going to be enough. Frankly, this “series” could run forever, such was the stash of treasure left by the wingding.
Same deal as the last time – all sparklers which enticed me to tape and which seemed to be wholly exclusive to the late night massive.
Imbued with his passion for exploration, we can continue the journey – it is surely the greatest tribute we can pay to the man. But for now, it’s the golden hour that Simon Bates could never dream of.
John Peel forever!
The Jukebox Rebel
1. Cathode – Spincycle (Steve Jefferis)
From his debut album “Special Measures” (Expanding Records ecd13:03, 2004).
At once sumptuous and exquisite, Steve’s brand of electronica combines glitchy sounds and detuned melodies, whilst remaining accessible. Speaking of his first vinyl release in 2002, the Newcastle lad said that it “tickled the ears of John Peel for a few precious minutes, which was enough reason to keep making music in itself.” A familiar story is that.
2. Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 – Waited Too Long (?)
From their album “The Funeral Pudding” (Ajax Records AJAX 038-1, 1994).
There have been many weird and wonderful experimental art-rockers featured on John’s show over the decades. TFUL282 stood out for their downright oddness. Witness exhibit 2 with its’ wonky banjos and wrong vocals. On vocals, Anne Eickelberg seems hellbent on reinventing the possibilities of the larynx. Of this San Francisco based ensemble, Peel said “It’s always nice to hear a band whose influences aren’t immediately apparent.” Don’t try this one on karaoke.
3. Ken Nordine – Flesh (Ken Nordine, Dick Campbell)
From his LP “Colors (A Sensuous Listening Experience)” (Philips PHM 200-224, 1966).
What a mind, what a voice. You can select any Ken Nordine record and you’ll be in for a treat. “Flesh” gets me holding up my perfect 10 board – perhaps his very finest 90 seconds, on every level. You and I know that the proper colour for flesh to be is the colour it is.
4. Tiger – Yu Dead Now (Norman Jackson)
7″ on Shocking Vibes, issued in 1991.
Continuing the theme of amazing voices, what about this totally deranged character? Every performance at this time was laced with expression, resulting in a string of hits on the island. Sadly, tragedy befell the artist in December 1993 when he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. He suffered serious head injuries and his recovery was slow, the injury affecting his voice to the point where he was no longer able to record or perform to his previous capacity.
5. MC Det – Hipsteppin’ (Joseph Ellington)
From his EP “Jungle Owes Me Money” (Times Two Records TT-004, 2002).
I quite like that title. And the content doesn’t disappoint – an action packed energy rush. If it weren’t for Peel I’d have far less of a clue about drum n bass than I actually do. It was becoming more and more prevalent in the last couple of years of his shows. Sadly, I never made it to a John Peel Roadshow but if I had, this would surely have had me shaking something in appreciation.
6. Bob Log III – All The Rockets Go Bang (Robert Reynolds III)
From his album “School Bus” (Fat Possum Records 0323-2, 1998).
You’ve never lived ‘til you’ve seen this virtuoso play. The spirit of the Delta blues lives in this possessed madman who, dressed in a human cannonball suit, performs with a motorcycle helmet on, never showing himself. His vocals are delivered via a telephone receiver, which allows him to devote his hands and feet to guitar and drums. He’s a one-man blues punk guitar dance party. I’ve never heard either of the previous two Bob Logs but they surely can’t be this exciting? This guy was absolutely, totally and utterly custom built for the wingding.
7. Black Star Liner – Killah Connection (Choque Hosein, Chris Harrop)
From their album “Yemen Cutta Connection” (EXP Recordings EXP-006, 1996).
Sitars and tablas dubwise dance style? Yes please. The lads from Leeds got great support from Peel and indeed it was their March ’95 session which enabled them to secure a recording contract with EXP, which was co-run by Feargal Sharkey. Small world, eh? These guys made spellbindingly excellent music. Both albums – “Yemen Cutta Connection” (1996) and “Bengali Bantam Youth Experience” (1999) – deserve to be in record collections by the millions.
8. Chill E.B. – Menace To Society (Norman Berry)
12″ on Vanessa Records (VR T-1004, 1992).
“Social reject trying to get a paycheck.” This was his debut single, first out in 1992, reissued a couple of years later. “Society’s A Menace To ME”. Line!
9. T. Raumschmiere – Querstromzerspaner [lfo remix] (Marco Haas)
From his EP “A Million Brothers (Blah Blah Blah)” (NovaMute NoMu 134, 2004).
The joys of my Peel tapes lay in the sheer randomness of the mix up but I do recall that I went through a stage of putting the dance stuff on its’ own tape. There must be at least 3 x C-90s full of belters. The difficulty with these dance choons is that they’re all instrumentals – getting a memory handle on titles isn’t easy. These actual tapes are in storage at the time of writing and, for the life of me, can I recall any of the specific tunes? Apart from H Foundations’ “Laika” (compiled on “Episode 1”), the answer is a great big NO! Useless memory, very frustrating. Anyhow, with a little help from You Tube, I managed to get a recollection on this magnificent work from T. Raumschmiere, remixed by LFO. The same LFO who’re definitely included on the aforementioned C-90s for sure. It’s all coming back to me now. My dotage is going to be painful. Better start getting it all down on excel methinks.
10. Esquivel and his Orchestra – Mucha Muchacha (Juan Garcia Esquivel)
From his LP “Latin-Esque” (RCA Victor LSA-2418, 1962).
A spicy space-lounge epic from the master of the art – Juan García Esquivel! Esquivel’s use of stereo recording was legendary, occasionally featuring two orchestras recording simultaneously in separate studios – such was the case for his 1962 album “Latin-Esque”, from which the song “Mucha Muchacha” makes particularly mind-bending use of the separation. With its chorus and brass rapidly alternating stereo sides – it’s a jaw-dropping rhythmic masterpiece of zany pop. The album cover had the subtext “The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow”. For once, the marketing bull was bang on the money!
11. Zimbabwe Cha Cha Cha Kings – Runako Rwemwana Wanguo (Peter Mwachande)
From the v/a compile “Roots Rock Guitar Party: Zimbabwe Frontline Vol. 3” (Sterns/Earthworks Stew40CD, 1999).
Mucho cha cha chas! The Zimbabwean people never cease to amaze me – how can they remain so joyous in the face of such an oppressive regime? Maybe the music is just a means of sheer escapism. These boys are sensational – listen to them go, with their licks and tricks galore. Some of the very finest music of Planet Earth has originated in Zimbabwe. Is it too late to recall Voyager One? I know Chuck Berry made the gold disc, and that’s all very well, but I simply can’t bear to think that our far off inter galactic cousins will miss out on these other-worldly creations.
12. Prince Far I – Speech / No More War (Michael Williams / Michael Williams, Earl Lowe)
An edited speech excerpt from his Peel session recording of 7 June 1978 (broadcast on 4 July 1978), followed by 7″ on Front Line Records (FLS 112) in 1978.
“Sack your war!” I love to hear the rasta man talk. The true Rastafarians are intensely committed and fully focused in their faith – I’m not a religious man myself but I’ve always been impressed by their dedication, not to mention some of their core principles. “Love, what a nice idea” sings the Prince. The world needs more tough guys like Far I repeating that message. Big men. Respected men. In April 1978, Jamaica’s historic One Love Peace Concert was held at the National Stadium, St Andrew, as strong men ‘Bucky’ Marshall and ‘Claudie’ Massop pushed for peace across the political divide. The concert is remembered for Bob Marley holding up the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Edward Seaga’s hand, along with People’s National Party (PNP) leader Michael Manley’s. Soon after, George Nooks re-recorded Little Roy’s Tribal War, “Tribal war, We no want no more a that, Tribal war, A no that we a defen’”. It captured the public’s imagination and went all the way to Number One. Prince Far I takes the bassline and lyrical theme for his universal adaption, “No More War”. True peace never came to the island of course. A good man, only in his late thirties, was cheaply gunned down on 15 September 1983.
13. Calvin Party – Tell Me About Poverty (John Donaldson)
From their album “Lies Lies And Government” (Probe Plus Probe 43CD, 1995).
I seem to remember Peel saying something along the lines of “they’re the best band no-one’s ever heard”. Not for nothing did John Donaldson’s Levellers 5 and Calvin Party record eight sessions. One can only speculate that the public at large do not have an appetite for “Northern crap that talks back”. If it’s not a North-South divide, it’s certainly a Left-Right divide. “Victoriana values, fuck you economics, heads full of anger, I hate, so tell me poverty, so tell me about pain, so tell me it was worse in the 30s, so tell me once again, why is there no lights on Dad? So why’s the telly not working Dad? Why has Mum gone to bed? Please Dad don’t bang your head, please Dad don’t bang your head, please Dad don’t bang your head.” Wow. John Peel knew a band when he heard one.
14. Jellyfish Kiss – I’m Sticking With You [peel session] (Lou Reed)
Recorded in session for Peel on 13 February 1990, broadcast 12 March 1990. Issued on the v/a comp “Heaven & Hell – Volume Three (A Tribute To The Velvet Underground)” (Imaginary, 1992).
Second band from Leeds to make this comp. Not that it matters. All we music nuts care about is finding the next bit of treasure. To boot, it seens completely irrelevant to me whether a band lasts for 2 days or 20 years. We’re all just looking for that one perfect moment in time, captured forever. So it happened for Jellyfish Kiss when they ventured into Maida Vale 5 on the 13th February 1990. The chemistry is sparkling. The vocal interplay between guests Rich and Jess was magical, and the band absolutely nailed the two-part feeling of this Velvet Underground classic. Peel gets the last word. Some things never change. 😉