That story from the other day (here) about the boy who swapped his iPod for a Walkman for a week had me thinking back to all my old compilation tapes I’ve still got in a box. I used to listen to the John Peel show religiously and sit with my finger poised over the pause button of the cassette deck on my music centre (as they were called, in my house at least, between 1983 and 1990, until CD first came into my life) waiting for something good to pop up inbetween the anarcho-punk, dub reggae, Ivor Cutler and Fall tracks. Nowadays I can appreciate that for the most part, John Peel’s show was all good, but to a 13 year old mad about Adam and The Ants, Crass, Culture and Captain Beefheart were a step too far.
By the end of the 80s I was a dab hand at recording entire Peel Sessions. If I was lucky I’d pause it just before Peel started talking. In hindsight, that was a stupid thing to do. I’d love to know what he said about some of the sessions I taped, but his comments have floated off into the ethers of time. I still have those tapes though…
The House of Love (“Hey man, the bongos are too loud” – I managed to capture Peel that night!), numerous Wedding Presents, a great Inspiral Carpets session with their original singer that sounded like The Doors and The Teardrop Explodes slugging it out after 17 microdots. And some fantastic Pixies stuff, including their first Peel Session.
You can find out all you need to know about any John Peel session at this indispensable site here. This Pixies one was recorded at Maida Vale 4 on 3rd May 1988 (21 years ago!!!) and broadcast about a week later, the session was notable for a couple of things. Firstly, it sounded fantastic. Pristine recording. Short, short songs. Frank Black screaming his big fat head off. Listening to it now, I can vouch that it still sounds fantastic today. Secondly, the choice of songs the band played was interesting. Two tracks from their recently released ‘Come On Pilgrim’ ep, two cover versions and a track that wouldn’t see the light of day until the ‘Doolittle‘ album.
About 10 years ago, long before file sharing had reached the West of Scotland I bought a Pixies bootleg called ‘Rough Diamonds’. This album has 5 tracks credited to the May 88 session, but my old tape has 4 songs from the session. I either missed their pre-Doolittle version of ‘Hey‘, or that song wasn’t broadcast in the first place. The 5 tracks are:
In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song)
In contrast to the rather daft and throwaway Beatles original, Wild Honey Pie is a full-on Frank Black scream-fest that wouldn’t sound out of place in any Pixies set of original material. In Heaven.. is a cover of a song from David Lynch’s ‘Eraserhead’. But you knew that already. Have you ever heard Peter Ivers original? Creeeeeeepy. High pitched voice, churchy keyboard and a wind effect at the end. The Pixies do a pretty good job of replicating it, but I think the Flaming Lips would really make this one soar. I’m now off to illegally seek out some Peter Ivers recordings. Enjoy the session!
I heart Peter Ivers