- 2 years ago
It’s hard these days to imagine a time when there was no internet, but looking back to those days, everything seemed to matter more – the letter from the friend you met on holidays; the book that took your local library 3 weeks to order in; the new album you took an hour long train journey to the nearest city to buy, which you listened to over and over again, until you knew every word as well as you knew the tracklisting, sleeve and liner notes; the music paper you poured over religiously every Friday morning (it came out in London on Tuesday afternoons, my local paper shop received it on a Friday, and even then only cause I ordered it), grinning with excitement as you read the live ads for forthcoming shows in Edinburgh & Glasgow that your parents would probably not let you go to, you were only 15 after all; and of course, the radio shows that you recorded on cassette, well just 2 radio shows really, the John Peel show and later Mark Radcliffe’s Out On Blue Six.
In my mid-teens with a limited income from a part-time waitressing job (90p per hour!) I had to be pretty selective about which 2 records I could buy each time I made it to a decent record shop, and so relied so heavily on these cassette recordings to keep me going. I loved the majority of the music that Peel played and even the stuff I didn’t really understand still had its charm. I loved his soothing voice and it was so very endearing when he started a record at the wrong speed.
After I got my first guitar, the Peel Session became my main goal, one I never really thought I’d achieve, but you gotta aim high, right? Then, in 1995, there I was in the BBC’s Maida Vale studios in London, recording my first Peel Session with Tunic (who had already recorded their first Peel Session in 1994). The whole experience blew my mind. All the greats have passed through Maida Vale, from the Beatles to Bing Crosby, from Bowie to Hendrix, and it’s one of those places where you can really feel the weight of its history hanging heavy in the air. And wow, here I am. Mind. Blown.
I will never forget the feeling of sitting around the radio the night that session was broadcast, I did it, I really fucking did it.
I went on to record 2 more Peel Sessions with Tunic in 1996 and 1997, the latter was recorded with Andrew Beaujon and we performed the entire thing in French.
I recorded a further Peel Session with my brother’s band Pilotcan in 1999. It’s awesome that we were able to experience that together.
As part of Peel’s 60th birthday celebrations in 1999, his producer arranged some surprise session tracks, asking some of his favourite bands to cover some of his favourite songs. At that time I was playing guitar with Cha Cha Cohen, and we were asked to contribute a track, so we recorded a version of Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive. We were also required to record a spoken introduction/birthday greeting to be played before the track. Since I happened to share a birthday with Peel, I got to do the honours.
I only got to meet him once, at King Tuts in Glasgow. My friend Mark was chatting to him for a second, while I stood next to him completely star struck and speechless, and really, it’s not often I am lost for words.
Last week I got a message from an old friend via Twitter, telling me that BBC 6 Music were replaying our 1995 Peel Session on the Gideon Coe show at that very moment. This brought back a whole load of memories which I have been thinking about a lot this week, and now today is John Peel Day, so I figured I’d write it all down. I know I haven’t said anything that hasn’t been said before, but there you go, these are my experiences.
Thanks for everything Mr.Peel, thanks for listening to all my dumb bands when nobody else was interested. You will never know how much your encouragement and support meant to all of us .
Tonight I start a new DJ residency at the Cat & Fiddle in Hollywood, join myself and Mr.Charlie Clark on Thursdays in October, we’ll be DJing out on the (heated) patio from 9.30pm. There’s no cover, drinks specials galore, the kitchen is open till 11.30pm, and the music will be super :-)
- 2 years ago
Check out this new blog, HEAVY VINYL, just started by Mr.Keiron Mellotte, aka My Big Brother. Already up is a review of the new FEIST album, and an archive interview with the JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION.
DESERT TIMES pt 1: Drove out to a festival in Pioneertown on Saturday, near Joshua Tree, in the desert, with friends Charlie & Mich. Charlie & I sang backing vocals on a Gram Parsons track with Mark Gardener. The Clean Air Festival is in its 5th year now, a great event in a beautiful spot. We saw a lot of great music under the stars, it was pretty special. A big thanks to Mark for letting us perform with him, and for being an awesome fellow!
- 2 years ago