The Jukebox Rebel Presents… D’Ye Ken John Peel?

A special tribute to John Peel by The Jukebox Rebel:

dyakenjohnpeelIt’s hard to believe that there have been seven Fall LPs since we gen x musical adventurers lost our chief navigator. As we approach the tenth anniversary of his untimely passing, I felt compelled to propose my own special toast – what better way than through music? For me, from 1983 to 2004 it was a complete privilege to be able to tune in to late night Radio One, record button at the ready, and get a flavour of what the world had to offer at any given point in time. It was the best education I’ve ever had. You may feel the same.

This mix-tape is simply themed – memorable gems which were love at first listen and were immediately edited to my “Peel compiles” without hesitation. The only other criterion is that I’d have been unlikely to ever have heard them at all had it not been for the wingding.

I’ve just spent an amazing couple of days putting it together. Two days for 14 tracks! Imagine the dedication it took to showcase 8 hours per week worth of music.

What a man.
John Peel forever!

Peace out,
The Jukebox Rebel

1. Knights Of The Occasional Table – Eden [zion train’s friendly mix] (Andrew Cowen, Nygel Packett, Steve Radford)
12″/CDEP (Middle Earth Recordings Middle-01, 1994).

“Eden, after all, is where the heart is. Eden, after all, is where you make it.” I quite like the idea that, potentially, you can bring Goa to Grimsby. This is sheer festival bliss…

2. Shu-De – Beezhinden (Coming Back From Beijing) (Traditional)
From their album “Voices From The Distant Steppe” (Real World Records CDRW-41, 1994).

Hark, the wondrous traditional sounds of the Tuvans – once heard, never forgotten. Shu-De recorded the first of their two albums whilst visiting the UK in 1992. Over the course of these, they offer a great many different styles to fill up your senses, and the highlights are plentiful. The cheerful “Beezhinden” is my favourite although the pressing plant did their very best to fool the world into thinking that this one was titled “Aian Dudal” on the CD. On the plus side, at least they made me concentrate and sharpen up on my Tuvan!

3. The Highlander II’s with Elka Zolot – Put Down Yore Shootin’ Iron, Pappy (Fine, Sonner)
From the v/a compile “Blood Orgy Of The Leather Girls” (Planet Pimp Records PPR-009, 1994).

From the Tuvan Steppes to the Blue Ridge… hot diggity. This good ole’ yee-haw was originally done by Esmereldy and her Shotgun Five circa 1947. The raucous lo-fi version from Elka and her crew was in keeping with the spirit of the gory b-movie with which it’s associated. I’m still none the wiser all these years on though – how much corn DO you put on the coal?

4. Drag Racing Underground – Hellfire (John Gileski Jr.)
B-side to “Broadcast Booth” (Snakeskin SS-003, 1989).

“John Gill and Yanna Trance were a live-work-kill together couple who brewed up their crazed sonic schemes in their very own secret headquarters, explaining little and revealing even less” notes Discogs. They traded under the names of Drag Racing Underground or Big Stick. Both are massive drag racing fans – despite the piss-take nature of this classic little red roaster.

5. Cake Like – Bum Leg (Jody Seifert, Kerri Kenney, Nina Hellman)
From their album “Delicious” (Avant Avan-029, 1994).

We’ve had Petunas, now it’s the turn of Petinas. These mix-tapes don’t just compile themselves you know. I loved the approach of Cake Like – three creative women with at least two actresses on board. Despite never having played any instruments before they decided to improvise and before you know it, they had found a way to make something kinda’ great happen.

6. The Gymslips – Drink Problem (Karen Yarnell, Paula Richards, Suzanne Scott)
From their LP “Rocking With The Renees” (Abstract Records ABT-006, 1983).

The Gymslips are the first band that I can remember remembering from the wingding. Council estate pop punk, as catchy as hell. Alas, my oldest C-90s have long since perished. I had initially intended to include “Tennis Off The Wall (boom-boom-boom) Coz’ That’s All We Can Afford” since it was the first thing (I think) that I actually saved to tape, but it doesn’t seem to exist these days in any available form, which is a pity. Not to worry, plenty of other goodies to choose from. Whiskey, gin, brandy, rum – what a bender!

7. Joe Liggins and his Honeydrippers – Pink Champagne (Joe Liggins)
10″ 78 (Speciality SP-355) in 1950.

This hardcore sesh is now onto the pink champagne. I’m firmly of the opinion that there’s no such thing as a drinking problem – there are only drinking solutions. This juke joint classic came from Joe Liggins, a classy pianist singer-songwriter whose recordings were often characterised by two saxophonists, as is the case on this occasion. So doggone fine.

8. Sharon Shannon – Retour Des Hirondelles / Tune For A Found Harmonium (Blackie Pagano, Robert Trognée / Simon Jeffes)
From her self-titled debut album (Solid Records ROCD-8, 1991).

Who could ever forget Peelie breathlessly extolling the virtues of the scintillating live performance of Sharon Shannon at Glastonbury? His infectious enthusiasm made him a winner all day long. I too shared the love – thrice I’ve stood agog, beholding to the majesty that is the Shannon in full flow. For years, I was under the impression that this piece was entitled “Queen of the West” as per the CD. It wasn’t until I heard the Penguin Café Orchestra’s original “Song For A Found Harmonium” that I realised there had been another pressing plant cock-up. It also explains why the thing sounded like two songs – the first being an old French accordion ditty from the 1930s. It’s part two which blows my mind – the accordion-guitar synergy with Stephen Cooney is uncanny. Listen to them GO.

9. Apna Sangeet – Hey Shava (Sardara Singh Gill)
From their LP “Bhangre Da Raja” (Multitone Records Ltd. MUT1110, 1990).

Back in the days before the interweb, we used to have a guess as to what we were taping, based on the dulcet pronunciations of our genial host. So it came to be that I presumed this to be the work of an “Apna San Gidh”, who, in my mind at least, was bound to be a beautiful young Bollywood chanteuse form Mumbai. Turns out “she” was actually “Apna Sangeet”, an English based group of blokes on the go since 1979. I still like to think of my Apna from time to time.

10. H Foundation – Laika (James Harrigan)
12″ on Bomba Records (Bomb 12010, 1994).

This monster was the extraordinary creation of Glasgow’s Sub Club don, James Harrigan, who normally trades as DJ Harri. I often wonder as to what’s lying behind this work – it’s truly an epic of “war of the worlds” proportions. Quite why this wasn’t a Top Ten smash in a hundred different countries is beyond me.

11. Rod Dennis Mento Band – Drive It Home (Hal Paige)
From their album “Original Jamaican Music” (Penthouse 61199, 2001).

It seems to me a travesty that the likes of Carlton “Blackie” James, long-time singer and banjoist of the Rod Dennis Mento Band, could exist for some forty years without an album of works to show for it. Thanks in no small part to the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, there was an effort made at the turn of the millennium to encourage, support and develop the old Jamaican mento form. In the slipstream of their initiatives, Donovan Germain’s Penthouse Recording Studio stepped up to the mark to help produce “Original Jamaican Music” in 2001. These rural boys were born with “it” – their easy, rootsy manner is completely irresistible. Peel’s selected tune, “Drive It Home”, might be familiar – it was originally done by Hal Paige in 1953, and several years later by The Clovers. Listen out for the banjo string breaking near the end – isn’t it brilliant they just keep the take as is? Totally loveable.

12. Pépé Kallé – Tiembe Raid Pa Moli (Kabasele Yampanya)
From his LP “Cé Chalé Carnaval” (Afro-Rythmes AR-1012, 1989).

Sadly, the big man died prematurely of a heart attack, aged just 46, in 1998 – but he’s still alive in endless time and endless art. How could this music ever die? Impossible. A steady stream of Pépé’s albums were finding their way from the Parisian studios to Peel Acres, and there were many great selections to choose from – surely never finer than “Tiembe Raid Pa Moli”? Here, Mnsr. Kallé is backed with a lively vocal team consisting of Dilu Dilumona, Papy Tex, Pierron Sylviane, and Claude Severin. Guitars are Doris Ebuya & Elvis Kunku. Bass is Layolayo. Simply stunning all over, from start to finish.

13. Shitmat – Theme From The 1988 Morris Dancer Massacre (Henry Collins)
From his album “Full English Breakfest” (Planet Mu ‎ZIQ105CD, 2004).

High quality action from the Mashcore maverick. Said Peel of the artist, “You’d think he’d be absolutely certifiable, wouldn’t you? But when he came into the studio this time last week, he seemed like a perfectly normal kind of geezer.” In an interview on thedigitalfix.com, Henry Collins (Shitmat) summed up the influence and the essence of Peel quite brilliantly. “The day after my first Shitmat 7″ ‘Shopliftin’ Gabba’ was released, he opened his show with it. It had a locked groove at the end of the record and he let the bagpipe loop play while he talked and introduced the next track. Having the support of John made a real difference professionally as it meant a lot more people heard my first few releases. It helped me make the decision to make a career out of my music. Personally I was humbled that he spent time checking my music out and enjoyed it!”

14. Ronnie Ronalde – Beautiful Dreamer (Stephen Foster)
From his EP “Beautiful Dreamer” (Columbia SEG-7678, 1957).

In the summer of 2001, Ronnie Ronalde fever was sweeping the nation. Well, at least that was the case in the land of the wingding. When Peelie chanced upon a copy of “EMI Presents The Magic Of Ronnie Ronalde”, little did he suspect that it would become one of his most played albums of the year. Ronnie was decidedly old school – his favoured bird imitation / yodel routine had been on the go since the days of the cylinder in the late nineteenth century – the dawn of recorded time! He was a popular and likeable fellow who had his own BBC Radio Show from 1949, cleverly titled “The Voice of Variety”. At that time, the volume of Ronalde’s fan mail was such that it caused workload problems for the BBC staff! Nostalgia trips didn’t always work for Peel – his critical sensibilities would often deride something previously cherished. There were no worries for old Ronnie though – his act was timeless. Said Peel: “When I was a kid, in the late 40s/early 50s, Ronnie Ronalde was as big a star as there was and was on the radio an awful lot, and his records were just extraordinary things – and obviously they are still extraordinary.” Brilliantly, Ronnie picked up via Auckland and sent Peelie an e-mail during one of the shows. The two struck up a friendship, which resulted in Peel holidaying in New Zealand and Ronnie making the return trip to London to do a session in May, 2002. Said Peel: “When we met Ronnie in New Zealand – he met us actually, outside our hotel – he came round the corner making bird noises, which was an impressive way to introduce himself. But we heard later on while we were round at his house – I can’t remember if it was Ronnie or his wife who told us – that there had been a TV crew that came out there to do some filming of Ronnie doing bird noises. And when he was doing so, they had to kind of close all the windows and doors and things, because as soon as he started doing it, all of the birds in the garden joined in, which I can well believe.”

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