What a shock. I never expected John Peel to go, he seemed so young to me. I started listening to him spin discs and play demo tapes on Radio 1 in about 1974, which meant that I could mostly follow his discursive ramblings between records. It will be a harsher colder world without him.
His column in Sounds, a rock music newspaper (a concept now sadly extinct), was always a delight, sometimes with little pictures of 'The Pig' who was to become his wife Sheila. He presented Top of the Pops occasionally in an embarrassed fashion because most of the music was marketed trash, probably he had to. Usually the shy one next to Noel Edmonds at the back of Radio 1 DJ group photos, he brought his caring and/or grumpy philosophies to the rest of the world in Radio 4's Home Truths. His Dandelion record label bought us groups like Stealer's Wheel. Top Gear, later known as John Peel, his Radio 1 programme was his and John Walters great achievement, with its live sessions and variety, but since the heydays of the 70s and 80s, I don't know more than one or two other people who listen to his show now as the BBC put the start time later and later at night.
One suddenly realizes that he drove most of the innovation in popular music: one John Peel being more effective than a hundred A&R men or marketing wonks. I liked most of the new stuff, but always wished he would play more from his own collection which weighs tons and rivals the BBC's own archives. Who will champion new music now? Only this morning I was batch-labelling Ivor Cutler (an anarchic poet) tracks in iTunes as "Peel Sessions". Who will play the alternative stuff now? Not only a great bloke, but an institution. Where can I hear the good stuff now? It's not quite the day the music died, but almost. Will we get no new bands like T.Rex, Roxy, The Cure, The Smiths, Pulp because no-one will hear them? I hope the internet will provide a solution.
In 1999 Julie Burchill wanted to do away with the old feller [via NTK] and I can respect her reasons, except the musical ones: she must have missed all the hip-hop John was playing at the time. Her disgust at John's sexual predilections reminds me of the one time I saw John in the flesh, as it were, judging a Schoolperson of the Year contest at an AC/DC gig in the 70s. My mate Skip was up on stage in a white schoolboy uniform, but a young girl won, of course.
Capt. Beefheart - '81 Poop Hatch' (LP- Ice Cream for Crow)
Apparat - 'Can't Computerize It'
Central African Pygmies - 'One String Violin' (LP- Echoes of the Forest)
Phil Roebuck - 'Summons Song'
Joy Division - 'She's Lost Control'
The Magic Numbers - 'Hymn for Her'
The Ronettes - 'Be My Baby' (LP- The Best of the Ronettes)
PS Actually the last record was something else, these listings are a bit rock'n'roll, reveals Alan Connor.
Sorry I haven't posted anything for a while. I've been busy / mad / tired / selling on eBay / active on flickr.com where I have posted some new Erotic Gherkin pictures and kept tabs on the What's in your bag? photo pool. I hope to remedy this situation as from Wednesday. Meanwhile here are some lovely trees about half a mile from my house. ω 8:33:00 AM.
The idea is one of 12 selected for funding by Nasa. Others included a lunar space elevator and a magnetised beam plasma propulsion system.
I hope Arthur C. Clarke lives to see that elevator. ω 1:25:00 AM.
The Torrington, 1968 - 2004.
Friday, October 01, 2004
North London's Torrington music venue to close. The owners have sold the building. The last group to appear at North Finchley's famous pub rock venue will be Ruthless Blues on Sunday night. Pete Feenstra, who books the bands, has not updated the Torrington website yet. He must be gutted; there is nothing to be done about it.
In 1968 George Blevings started booking jazz bands for the back room of the Torrington — which during the rest of the week was London's most unpopular restaurant — and he presented rock bands as well from 1970.
Although I had been to a couple of Hawkwind concerts and I had been drinking in "The Torry" with "the lads" (our behaviour was only occasionally laddish) for a little while because I lived in nearby Highwood Avenue, the first gig I saw there was country rock combo Charlie and the Wide Boys (who later put out an album on MfP) on the 6th of October, 1974. Ducks Deluxe had played there the week before but for some reason I didn't want to go out that night - I've always regretted this.
I think it was T. Harwood who probably dragged me along to my fist gig there, and later S. Evangelou would often go along. Trev delivered a great line when he stomped out of a Clayson & the Argonauts gig: "It'll never replace music!"
In the following weeks I saw Kokomo, Lucas & McCulloch, Bill Barclay, Charlie, Brinsley Schwarz, Dr. Feelgood, O, Zzebra, String Driven Thing, Jack the Lad, Kevin Coyne, Shakin' Stevens and the Sunsets, Jonathan Kelly's Outside and Kokomo again on the 22nd of December: this time their four vocalists (from the 60s group Arrival) were augmented by Mike Patto and Carol Grimes and Mandy. I was hooked on pub rock.
In 1975 I saw Kursaal Flyers, F.B.I., Bees Make Honey, Patto, Shanghai, Flying Aces, Mickey Jupp Band, Kilburn and the High Roads there... and many more. I started going to other venues like the Hope and Anchor, the 100 Club and the Marquee (the first one, in Wardour Street) and the Roundhouse. I ended up seeing F.B.I. 31 times! Unfortunately they split up just after their first album and single were released.
What memories: I picked up Ian Dury, Shakin' Stevens stood on my head, I caught one of Otway's buttons, one of the Bowles Brothers fell through the stage, Lee Brilleaux pinched my Black Sobranies, Randy Rhubarb never showed up, Eric Morecambe did, the world's most standoffish DJ, Christmas and New Year drinks, Fastnet fallout, post-gig playback with young punks Outrage, arm-wrestling with Bernard Cohen, the hand-stamps, O.K. Banana's wedding reception... The version of the "nudge nudge" sketch in the first Python film was filmed in a cubby hole at the back of the room.
I'll write more later, but now I fancy a swift half. ω 8:40:00 PM.