Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Tales from the Perfumed Garden

Having bought it religiously for years, I rarely buy the NME now. I’ll buy the Christmas special or the issues when they do the best 50 LP’s of all time etc. I gave up when I realised their understanding of ‘dance’ music stretched little beyond Trip Hop and no hip hop artist could escape without a comparison the De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising. I also sussed the editorial style, which, when assessing a new band’s style always listed two peers that you had heard of (to help you) and one that you hadn’t (to make them look cool).

“Gobstopper’s sound is not unlike early Joy Division, Blur and Flungebuckets Christmas Retention Programme”

I decided I didn’t want to read a magazine written by isolationist sixth formers dressed like Robert Smith. I’ve never regretted the decision, in fact whenever I’ve bought it I’ve found it as informative as the Tesco top 100 CD chart. Ooh the coolest bands on the planet are The Strokes, The White Stripes and, crikey, Nirvana.

I bought it this week for the Peel tribute, in which it praises his style of playing records in their entirety without speaking over them because it “allowed people to tape the songs off the radio, which is what people used to do before file swapping” Jeez where’s my Zimmer frame?

Anyway, here are my favourite Peel facts from their list of 50: -

• A massive Captain Beefheart fan, in 1969 Peel volunteered himself to chauffeur him around the Midlands gig circuit. At one point, Beefheart, ordered Peel to stop the car with the words “John I want to hug a tree”.
• Ater giving The Damned exposure on his show, he received a letter from the drummer’s mum thanking him for “helping Christopher’s career”.
• Part of his show was The Pigs Big 78 which involved his wife choosing a 78rpm record for him to play.
• He hated Essex drivers so much he’d drive around the county to avoid them.
• With the wide range of music played, Peel would get annoyed when his Festive 50 were always made up of white boys with guitars. When Nirvana topped the poll in 1991 with ‘Smell’s Like Teen Spirit’ he cancelled the poll altogether. A Phantom 50 was later broadcast through the year, one a week.
• In 1997 he ran a Festive 31 due to the paucity of votes
• He deleted the first 5000 words of his autobiography by mistake
• The only band ever to be bumped down the Festive 50 were The Dawn Parade who had something like 20 times as many votes as anyone else due to Internet vote rigging. He let them be Number 50 for sheer cheek.
• At www.planetbods.org/radio/peel.live you can find the John Peel Sweet Eating Game. It involved eating a sweet whenever he played a record at the wrong speed, mumbled incomprehensibly about a family member, was caught by surprise by the end of a track or played a record so obscure it’s only available at one shop in Oslo.


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