Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Oliver!: The Vinyl Vandals - Don't Be So Serious [Rasta Mayhem mix] (15 March 1992)
When I used to listen to Peel in the early part of the Millenium, he seemed to be one of the few disc jockeys who was given licence to swear on air. He didn't abuse this freedom but I thought nothing of the fact that he could back announce something like The Immortal Lee County Killers album, The Essential Fucked Up Blues! without censure. I figured this was down to a combination of the time slot his show went out at (10pm to midnight back then - 11pm to 2am in 1992 - and these BFBS shows went out late in the day too), the fact that he only did it when announcing swearwords as parts of song/album titles or band names and the fact that he was, after all, John Peel. He'd earned the right. How surprising to learn that he only really had permission to do this after the turn of the Millenium. Californian band, Fuck, were "Feck" on Peel's show for most of the 90s and the likes of Prosthetic Cunt could make some of Peel's last playlists but never get a session so as to avoid the C-word being said more than once a show.
Up to the 21st century, swearing in a record could have a huge impact on what Peel could play on air. This was despite the fact that, even taking into account the large number of under 18s who listened to his show, he was broadcasting after watershed hours - after the pubs had closed in 1992 for that matter. However, Peel was bound by rules like everyone else, even on the British Forces Broadcasting Service. Before playing this splendidly enjoyable fusion of Rasta preaching and hard trance, Peel read a letter from a listener called Hughie requesting that he play a different Vinyl Vandals track from the one he had been doing. Peel explained that he couldn't do this due to the amount of bad language on the other Vinyl Vandals tracks that he had. He expressed a hope that an imminent single from them called Headstrong would be "as pure as the driven snow." It turned out to be their last release.
The frustration is justified but any mix of Don't Be So Serious is worth listening to. The radio friendly Rasta Mayhem mix features Rasta scatting, water bubbles, a memorable refrain for a whole nightclub to chant, "You are drugging our water" and a mix of beats and processed synth sounds that drive the thing on superbly. The sweary mix is even better, evoking the feel of an illegal rave right up to the arrival of the police. I include it below and salute The Vinyl Vandals for their refusal to compromise. I only hope Hughie got to hear it in the end.
Videos courtesy of DJDreadnought and skunkassociation.