Keeping It Peel
Today is John Peel Day, during which BBC Radio will honor the man it kept hidden at the arse end of the radio shift for most of his working life. Fortunately, at the time of his death, from a heart attack while on a working vacation in Peru, the mid-life crisis period during which Peel was almost shoved off Radio 1 entirely was long behind him, and he had become, instead a well-deserved national institution. I wrote a personal tribute to the man after he died, which you can read here and which, having just re-read, I may well repost on the front page any moment. Many iJamming! Pub members chimed in with their own memories about Peel, which you can read and add to here.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I’ll be tuning in to Radio 1 on and off for the rest of the day. Who knows? I may even hear the new “tribute” recording of ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?)’ which, I have now learned, features not just Elton John but Roger Daltrey and David Gilmour. I’m trying to imagine how the hell it sounds. Does anyone care to tell me? Better yet, anyone care to MP3 it my way?
It just occurred to me that Nouvelle Vague covered not only this Buzzcocks song in concert, but of course also recorded Peel’s all time favorite, ‘Teenage Kicks’ by The Undertones for their debut album. And it got me thinking about a few things, all of which I throw out there with a sense of lunch-time fun, trusting I might provoke some responses either here or in The Pub. Let’s see:
1) Am I the only one who thought, at the time, that ‘Ever Fallen In Love?’ was the weakest Buzzcocks single to date? Does it seriously hold a candle to either ‘What Do I Get?’ or ‘Love You More’? Has it only become celebrated to this extent because it was their first proper hit?
2) Is it possible to get bored of ‘Teenage Kicks’?
3) Would Peel want to know that his death provoked a cover of ‘Ever Fallen In Love’
featuring Elton John, Roger Daltrey and David Gilmour?
4) Does anyone else remember back in 1978 how Peel thought The Stranglers were getting an underserved bad rap and therefore played the whole of their Black And White album, in one go?
5) Who else actually remembers Peel playing ‘Teenage Kicks’ twice in a row because it was so good? Did he do this with any other records?
6) Was anyone at my wedding when I played ‘Teenage Kicks’ on my Rickenbacker, and got blood all over my white wedding shirt for my Townshend imitation efforts?
7) Did Peel really play ‘Teddy’ by Apocalypse? He must have done, as Jeff Carrigan used the taped intro for ‘Don’t Stop 2005.’ But I don’t remember it.
8) What was YOUR favorite Peel session and why?
9) The Times of London wrote earlier this week that
“Channel 4 has made a programme about Peel’s 140 favourite records, which he carried around with him in a box. A spokeswoman for the programme said: “It is the story of an obsessive DJ told through the treasured few records he carried with him everywhere.”’
Are we meant to take this at face value? As a DJ, I know how hard it is to carry 140 records anywhere, let alone everywhere. And if they were my most treasured records, I’d be inclined to keep them very secure and not cart them around on my back. Isn’t this what iPods are for?
10) What would you say to John Peel if you had one last opportunity?