There are times, dear reader, when I feel that I fail you in terms of what you might basically expect from a John Peel blogger. Whether it be not listening to any of the recent glut of Peel retrospectives through 6 Music or Radio 1 Vintage; not providing regular updates on his appearances on the latest repeat of Top of the Pops or most pressingly in the case of the programme Peel broadcast on this night, not selecting the track Rahm by Attwenger. I mean Austrian accordion led rap music was what the Peel Show was essentially for wasn’t it? Well, in some respects, yes, but it wouldn’t have got on my mixtape, I’m afraid. And in light of Attwenger’s subsequent behaviour towards our hero, maybe it’s for the best.
If we file the Attwenger track under Foreign Novelty, it has to be admitted that Peel was indulging his musical funnybone in this show given that he chose to end it with an extraordinary record from 1963 called When I Did the Mashed Potatoes With You by Larry Bright in which over a lush background, Bright reminiscences about performing novelty dances with his lost love.
The file I made my selections from came from the last 45 minutes of the show. There were two tracks I would have liked to include but wasn’t able to, and in the case of the first of them, it’s most irritating:
Sanchez and Shaka Shamba - No Bun It Down - Described by Peel as “a plea to the Jamaican authorities not to burn the marajuana crop”, you can hear an abridged version of the track by clicking on the link. With its dancehall beats and stabs of electric guitar, this is a business proposal to the Jamaican government about why they should legalise ganja, where they could grow it and the export strategy they could follow (Britain, America and Canada would be great markets apparently). Shamba plays the part of the businessman, outlining the benefits of legal ganja, while Sanchez plays the satisfied customer - happily getting blissed out and inspiring the writers of Just a Little by Liberty X a decade later - see if you can hear the lift. The track could be accused of irresponsibility, though it makes it clear that harder drugs than ganja are not welcome, but I love it for the fusion of riddim, politics and social issues. An audacious gem, please can someone put the full version up, especially if it links into...
Wingtip Sloat - M31 - Peel followed Sanchez and Shaka Shamba with this track from the Washington D.C. trio. He wondered what a sloat was, and it turns out that it’s not anything complimentary - at least this side of the Millenium. M31, in the style of this band, is a driving song which starts out as jangle before moving to clangle with added feedback and dissonance before it comes off the musical motorway and arrives on calmer roads. I’ve not been able to play any of the Wingtip Sloat tracks that caught my attention so far. If you have 37 minutes to spare, I can recommend a listen to User Friendly Bowl Wrapper, a collection of originals, covers, works-in-progress and outakes from 1991. Peel was still raving about them when he spoke to Rolling Stone in 1993, so I’m hopeful that they will be able to turn up here soon in some form.
The wonderful Webbie @keepingitpeel and especially, https://keepingitpeel.wordpress.com/ came up trumps again by uploading both tracks for us all to hear.
That Rolling Stone interview is notable for its final paragraph in which Peel reflects back to the early 70s and considers that, in the long run, Tony Blackburn was right and he was wrong. But the mention of Quicksilver Messenger Service provides me with a nice preview for the next post I’ll make here where I reflect on a few of my own musical prejudices and what I found when I confronted some of them. Required reading for advocates of Grand Funk Railroad, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Chicago and The Eagles.