Sunday, 23 July 2017

Oliver!: John Peel Show - BBC Radio 1 (Friday 20 March 1992)

One book on my To Read list is Ken Garner's 2007 book The Peel Sessions which chronicles all the sessions recorded and broadcast by Peel during his time on Radio 1.  15 years earlier though, Peel Sessions had been one part of a more comprehensive work of Garner's called In Session Tonight which attempted to present a full history of ALL sessions recorded for Radio 1, regardless of host and/or size of act.  During early 1992, Garner was observing sessions and writing about contemporaraneous Radio 1 for the opening chapter of his book.  He wrote to Peel about the Spiritualized session broadcast on 14/3/92, of which precisely no tracks turned up on this blog, because none of them were on the recording I made my selections from.  Garner had sat in on the session at Maida Vale, recorded on January 7, 1992 and one which Peel had particularly enjoyed because Jason Pierce and co. had taken his words to heart about using sessions to push beyond their comfort zone by bringing in outside musicians to bulk up their sound.  According to Garner, Kenneth Branagh had been recording a radio adaptation of Hamlet for broadcast on Radio 3, in the next door studio.  The first anyone knew of this was when Roddy Lorimer, one of the trumpet players that Spiritualized had drafted in for the session announced to the assembled company that he had just bumped into Michael Hordern in the Gents toilet.  Peel replied that his only lavatorial encounter with a famous person had been at Wembley Stadium a few years previous, when he had met Matt Busby.

Since the previous week, Peel had made the finals of a stock car racing event, in which he had beaten out Andy Kershaw.

The selections from this programme came from a 90 minute file.  The show included a track called Her Too by Greenhouse which takes the prize for track I've hated most on any Peel show, so far.  It's basic tune is good, but it becomes unlistenable due to their incorporating the sound of metal bars being struck.  Even Werewolf, Semen and Blood by Finnish group, Beherit was more enjoyable to listen to.

Tracks I would have liked to include but couldn't included:

Fun-Da-Mental - Janam (The Message) - Peel sounded like Sir Nicholas Soames as he attempted to enunciate Fun-Da-Mental's name.  The track though was fantastic: a compelling mix of Eastern drone, propulsive bassline and political agit-prop.  Essential listening - if you can find it.

The Megaton Men - So What - A venomous break up song, from Peel-described "Pride of Penarth" replete with gay subtext given that they sing about there being "another guy" at the root of their reason to break off the relationship, unless they're reading back a Dear John letter.  A good rocker, either way.

Manifesto - Pattern 26 - Peel heard traces of former Dandelion Records act, Medicine Head in this tune, but I thought it more closely evoked T.Rex myself.  Not quite hitting the heights of Walking Backwards but a strong ending would have recommended it for inclusion.

Tracks that fell from favour included:

The Hair and Skin Trading Company - Ground Zero - I agonised over this.  At times I loved it, especially when the ear-heart sound from the radio recording was in full effect, making the tune sound massive and exciting.  But too often, I felt detached from it - maybe because it's in that halfway house between major label sound and no budget one.  It's not a track that's going to die wondering, it has its eye on Wembley Stadium, and would probably sound amazing in that context.  However, it never held my attention when I was doing something else, so it was left out.  I have no idea whether this was my fault, or theirs.

PJ Harvey - O Stella - one of her key tracks from the start of her career, but on listening to it more closely, it just seems like a retread of the far superior Sheela-Na-Gig.

Full tracklisting

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