Wednesday, June 29, 2005


These old airchecks really bring back a lotta memories. Unfortunately they're only the memories of people telling me how great the presentation of rock & roll as an International Youth Language and Healthy Part Of Your Daily Gulcheral Intake used to be at a time before bad drugs, bad attitudes and generally bad jamz had turned Teenage Ameriga (and perhaps even Teenage World) into one big drug-numbed mass/mess that was so zoned that they took to just about any charlatan with a snappy smile and a firm handshake peddling some of the worst credo in the history of the whole bloomin' world. At least (as evident from listening to this all-important aircheck) one gets the impression that general youth civilization had something onna ball for one blinkin' moment before the aforementioned shucksters got their hooks into an entire generation of starry-eyed vacuums just waiting for the next trip to nirvana. I mean, who thirty-five-plus years back woulda thought that this brilliant underground trip woulda degenerated into ROLLING STONE-hyped softball games pitting their editorial board against the Eagles or that Nick Wright from Pink Floyd would care more about his race cars than his music, for all that was worth? Or even today when all that seems to "matter" re. youth is some strange stylistic sartorial sense handed down from a person I doubt you'd let yer kiddo near complete w/all the down-pat news and views that usually comes with the well-hyped package?

Which only makes this disque all the more, er, tasty in its early adventurous spirit that went down the cliched ol' crapper around the time all that was GOOD and RIGHTEOUS about the New Youth Movement became co-opted by the same people who used to sell those Woodstock (TM) patches in comic books. We're talking the early days of free-form radio not only when it actually was such an animal, but when there was a music scene extant enough to make the concept of being free-form a worthwhile endeavor. After all, what was the point in the whole rock as an open-field go anywhere/do anything game if all one hadda choose from was Stephen Stills on one hand and John Williams conducting the theme from STAR WARS on the other, and don't give me all that jazz about punk/new wave this and that...believe me, I was there and in the "real world" nobody wanted to go near all that rabble-rousing deafening cacophony being emitted by the likes of the B-52s and Blondie, let alone such topical guns as Chrome or the Contortions!

Anyhoo, this here's about as free-form a radio program as you would care to get, with future Brit icon John Peel spinnin' 'em for the new breed of London Underground punksters on pirate radio (in this case Radio London just before they got busted and Peel went directly to the top of the BBC pops where he had a pretty good and prosperous career despite ending it all pushing some of the lamest underground-as-rock crapola you could ever dread coming across). But things weren't quite as rancid in 1967 and this late-night program proves it. Quality's about as good as a shortwave pickup which adds to the intensity, and thankfully you can osmose to the eternal bliss as the music switches from stuff you'd swear was bad but sounds OK in the mix (Donovan's "Fat Angel") to obscure Ameriganisms you never thought were played overseas (the Shadows of Knight's "Gospel Zone" [!]) to blues of the British and Amerigan variety and even the Velvet Underground's "Run Run Run" shows up complete with a stirring defense by Peel telling us how people were calling them "repetitious" yet explaining how this very same repetition can lead the listener to various levels of "anticipation"! And of course you get the hefty dosage of SARGE PEPPER but considering how that one was the hot ticket of '67 what else would you expect?

I was expecting more British underground psychedelia of the CHOCOLATE SOUP/(what else but...)PERFUMED GARDEN sampler variety but that unfortunately was in short supply at least in the 75-minute or so slice appearing on this CD-R (only John's Children made the cut this evening), plus I was hoping we'd get some rare and ne'er to be heard again UNTIL NOW proto-Peel Session material from some obscure wonder, but as usual we can't have everything and have it all the time no matter how much we'd like to. But what we do get on this disque is a pretty nice cut of rock & roll radio back when the radio was one of the rock & roller's best friends. (Of course, that was long before the radio became the rocker's worst enemy and I'm sure Billy Miller never will rest well even this late in the game because of it!)


Anonymous said...

"Peel went directly to the top of the BBC pops where he had a pretty good and prosperous career despite ending it all pushing some of the lamest underground-as-rock crapola you could ever dread coming across). "

Maybe it's just me, but I certainly wouldn't refer to the Libertines (RIP), probably the last band to owe their recognition to Peel, as being "the lamest underground-as-rock crapola you could ever dread coming across". They were much more of the Real Thing than the rest of the "class of 2001" . For that matter I wouldn't consider such late Peel faves as the White Stripes (who I'd really put in a different category altogether from the early 2000s retrowave) or BRMC as "the lamest crapola", whatever one thinks of them.

Interesting that the only 80s/90s major "alternative" acts whom Peel shunned as being inferior were REM in the 80s and Oasis in the 90s.....and both desperately sought his approval.....

Christopher said...

Maybe, but a whole lot of the "Peel Sessions" material that crossed my ears throughout the past two decades certainly didn't come up to BTC-sanctioned aesthetics, but then again my anti-modern rock chauvinism does show through at times. I do remember seeing Peel interviewed on ABC's WORLD NEWS TONIGHT back in 1984 and being totally surprised by it, but then again the group shown recording a session tended towards the more tiresome aspects of what would soon be known as "alternative music," a genre which never did set well with me. I guess for me the height of Peel's rockism powers were the sixties and seventies, mainly because the crapola wasn't as lame as it would get in only a few short years.