Saturday, 13 January 2018

Oliver!: John Peel Show - BBC Radio 1 (Saturday 4 April 1992)

After this day, I would be spending at least part of the following 6 days dressed as, variously: an undertaker, a Bow Street Runner and a street vendor -  “Knives. Knives to grind.”  Oliver! would have its dress rehearsal on Sunday 5 April, with a preview performance for local junior schools on Monday the 6th.  My main memory of the time spent at the dress rehearsal was crowding round a mini-television, squinting through the static at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Portsmouth, the thought of which was giving Peel great anxiety.  Not only that, but he was still deeply uneasy about the concept of “the Super League” that Ipswich Town took another step towards on this day.

Centrepiece of the programme was the drawing of winners for copies of PJ Harvey’s debut album, Dry, with the added bonus of limited edition copies of demos for the album being given out as well.  To win a copy, listeners had to answer the question, where do PJ Harvey come from?  Peel gave mention to someone called “either J or K Taylor, who sent in 31 entries - all of them incorrect - any gave their address variously as either Aviemore, Scotland or Grovesnor Gardens, London”.  He felt that Taylor almost deserved a prize of some sort “for persistence, if not impudence”.  The answer turned out not to be Yeovil, as I have previously thought but Corscombe.

I was interested to hear him play a tune by The Rev. Buck Naked called The Wire Head Conspiracy.  In 2002, when I finally got around to making my own Peel mixtapes, he played one of his songs called Work On Your Car inspired by an email from a listener trying to remember where some of the lines from it came from.  Peel often used to joke about people asking him to dig out old reggae records that he had once played and which they could never remember either the title or artist - only that the track had the word, “jah” in it somewhere.  As for Rev. Buck Naked, Peel only had regrets,
“I wrote him a rather creepy letter to encourage them, and they immediately went out of business.”

Curve had played a gig in Ipswich  the night before this programme was broadcast.  Peel apologised to the band for any stage-diving that may have spoiled their set.  He attributed the possibility of this to his eldest son, William and his friends.

The selections from this programme were taken from a 94 minute file.  There were two items I’ve not been able to share:

Freefall - Our Eyes (Peel Session) - Whatever my previous carping about the singer of this band, they clearly had something about them, as this is the second of their contributions to a Peel show that I earmarked for inclusion.  My notes describe them as being “ 1984 never ended”.  Alas, one EP was as good as it got for them.

The Mike Gunn - Tom’s in the Bathroom - Taken from their album, Hemp For Victory, Peel was initially uncertain whether he had played this or the preceding track on the album, Song About Horses, “One of those albums where the number of tracks doesn’t marry up to the number of titles we’re given”.  However, having heard mention of “Tom” in the recording, he announced it finally as Tom’s in the Bathroom.  It was a borderline inclusion, but I loved it for the sax-led cacophony at the start of the record.  The band were named after someone who suggested they call themselves after him, though he wasn’t actually a member of the band itself.  I wonder if they would have taken him up on his suggestion had his surname been Hunt?

One track fell from favour:

Richard Hell - Baby Huey (Do You Wanna Dance) - I was sitting in an Italian airport in September 2008 when I first listened to Peel’s Punk special from 10 December 1976.  Of all the names that stuck in my head from that show, I always regarded Richard Hell and the Voidoids to be the most inspired of them.  It may well have been residual respect for that which initially saw this track, recorded with Dim Stars featuring members of Sonic Youth and Gumball, make it on to my lists. But listening to it again, it just sounded like a lazy parody.

Full tracklisting

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