The Furtive Fifty

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

OK, another long break. My apologies for adding to the global slump in blogging, but I have been rather busy...

However, a couple of weeks ago I went to see The Fall, which is always something worth writing home about.

Lucky for you, I had a new toy to try out, an Edirol R-09 solid-state recorder, which I've been 'evaluating' for work, and despite my fears that I would be frisked senseless on the way in and end up losing it to some suited monkey, it seemed that everyone and his kid brother was photographing/recording/filming this gig, so I felt a bit of pratt pulling it out of my underpants at the bar at the beginning.

As usual, Mark E. kept us waiting, then when the gig did start, it was with a long droney ambient piece, acompanied by some projections of icons such as Elvis & Martin Luther King (and, somewhat bizarrely, Annie Lennox) looping in disturbing ways, which gradually built up to some gut churning sub-bass (alas, not captured on the recording). I'd lay good money on the whole thing having been created with Max/MSP/Jitter. The band, which featured two bass players, then broke into the inevitable thumping riffs and incoherent shouting, and then finally Mark E. ambled in and you knew that everything was going to be OK.

Like many Fall fans, I'm at a loss as to explain what it is about Mark E. Smith that is so special, but within seconds of his arrival on stage, you just know that you're in the presence of genius. My Mrs. bumped into him whilst trying to find the Ladies, and managed to get a 'hello' out of him - I'm so jealous!

Despite tales in the press of on-stage fisticuffs, the band seemed pretty comfortable with one another and remained remarkably impassive as Mark E. wondered around fooling with their instruments, re-arranging the mics etc. and just let him get on with it. Needless to say, the overall effect was pure magic, which will never quite be captured on tape, but have a listen anyway.

Once again, I'm afraid the mics were nothing special, and the acoustics at The Point (which is, after all, a converted church) are not ideal for this kind of thing, but all things considerd, the recording quality is not bad at all. as always, it's neatly edited into a gapless CD format, but I haven't attempted to name any tracks, as I only recognised a couple.
At some point I was also handed a camera, so I managed to get a couple of snaps too...

Get it here

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

FF '00 20-1 (again!)

I was pleasantly surprised to find this whilst looking through my DATs for something else last night. I thought I only had the cassette copies I posted not so long ago, but here's the Fifty from 2000 nos. 20-1 from DAT; you may consider it rather anal to bother re-posting this so soon, just because it's a bit cleaner, especially as it's presented as an .mp3 anyway, but hopefully there may be some other purists out there who will appreciate the difference (or at least think they do, and that's all that counts, eh?).
Actually, I'm posting this to mask my utter frustration at being unable to post the Festive 50 from 2003 in it's entirety (also from DAT) because, after four hours of digitising, I found that I'd done so at the wrong sample rate, making John sound unpleasantly castrato (and what it does to Mark E. Smith's voice is just plain nasty). So Im going to have to do it all again, and I don't have the tapes with me today...blah, blah, woof, woof....
So here's part 1 and part 2.
Hopefully tomorrow I can try again with FF'03...

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Xmas Special 2000

I got hold of a copy of 'Billy Bragg - The Complete Peel Sessions' the other day, and was slightly dissapointed to find that it wasn't quite complete. To be fair, I'm probably being a bit picky here, because one of my favourite sessions was actually part of an Xmas Special, so I guess it doesn't quite qualify as a session.
Anyway after much rummaging around in the increasingly dusty tape box, accompanied by some swearing (bad back, you understand), I managed to find my copy, so here it is.
And I think you'll agree it was worth the pain - along with Billy in the studio, we have David Gedge and Gary Numan (about whom John gets quite excited), and Peely is in fine form, playing a number of top tracks from past Festive 50's and well as the usual eclectic fayre.
On the down side, we are back in cassette days, and whilst the recording quality is pretty good for analogue tape moving at a poxy 1 7/8 ips, I was a bit tight on the pause button in places, so whilst there is a fair amount of John talking, some of it is rather rudely clipped, for which I apologise.
Of course if I'd known that he was only going to be with us for a couple more Festive 50's, I would have spent all my xmas money on tapes, and recorded his every broadcast breath, but then we all thought he'd go on for ever, didn't we ? Let's not get maudling now, I almost lost it listening to Billy singing a wonderful rendition of Brickbat a minute ago, and I am at work as we speak...
This recording does rather sound like two completely different programs, but I have both sides of the tape marked as being 'pre ff special '00', so I'll just have to take my word for it. Come to think of it, I'm sure there was at least one more track each from messrs Bragg and Numan, so maybe I have the rest on another tape somewhere - damn, more rummaging to do when i get home ....
Btw, whilst this recording is, IMHO, nigh indispensable, it's not, the 'something rather special' hinted at in my last post; that may be a long time coming, so no breath-holding, please.
Here's part 1
and here's part 2

Incidentally, I am barely able to contain my excitement atm, because I have just discovered that someone has finally built the piece of dream technology that have been waiting for, and once I get the Xmas bills paid off, i am almost certainly going to be buying one of these. Not only will this will be a great boon to organising my sprawling audio collection, but I'm hoping it will also simplify the process of digitising my Peel stuff to share here.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

FF '02.

No chatter this time, just the goods - because I'm busy preparing something for you which is a bit different and, IMHO, rather special. Watch this space...

OK, today's offering is the Festive 50 from 2002: FM > DAT > Peak > .Ogg @ 256k. No Peel, just music because (and we've been through this before) they we're edited to make CD's for the journey to/from work. I think I still have the original of this somewhere, and if that's the case, I'll post it sometime.

Yer 'tis:

I've just noticed that Track 10, disc 2, The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song, which is not to be missed in my opinion, appears to be missing so here it is.

Have fun.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

The Magic Band and the Band from Utopia.
Probably just procrastinating again, to avoid the inevitable horror that is Xmas without the Festive 50, but I suddenly found myself racked with guilt about having not posted anything here for so long.
Being away from work, I have no access to the old tapes I've been pateintly digitising, but as I was watching a wonderful performance by Frank Zappa last night (is there any other kind?), I got to thinking about a DVD rip I did a while back of 'The Band from Utopia.'
If you haven't seen it, it's a posthumous performance by one of the Zappa band's finest line-ups (OK, there's plenty of scope for debate on that point), which is so good you can almost forget that Zappa is not actually there.
...which got me to thinking about a session the The Magic Band did for Peel, not long before he died, which was also notable for being totally wonderful despite the absence of the main man.
So here it is (part 1) & (part 2)

01 intro
02 Diddy Wah Diddy
03 Circumstances
04 a woman's gotta hit a man
05 Bass solo
06 Unknown Track
07 Steal Softly through Sunshine
08 talking
09 Abba Zabba
10 My Human Gets me Blues
11 Alice in Blunderland
12 Hair Pie
13 Evening Bell
14 Electricity
15 Floppy Boot Stomp
16 Mirror man
17 talking
18 Moonlight on Vermont
19 Big Eyed Beans from Venus

Broadcast 07/07/04, recorded to DAT, Ogg Vorbis @256k

And damnit, because it's New Year, here's The Band from Utopia too

1.Bamboozled by Love
2.Lucille has Messed my Mind up
3.The Bebop Tango
4.Easy Meat
5.Uncle Meat
8.On the Outside
9. The Illinois Enema Bandit

The band:
Tommy Mars, Robert Martin, Ike Willis, Arthur Barrow, Tom Fowler, Bruce Fowler,Kurt McGetterick, Ed Mann, Chad Wackerman, Jay Dittamo

DVD rip, AAC @ 128k

PS. Just to waste a few more minutes, and whilst we're on the subject of Zappa, I want to ask a question; apart from some early Mothers stuff which he played on The Perfumed Garden, does anyone ever remember Peel playing any Zappa on his show ? Either I've been very unlucky and I've missed it, or he never did, which, considering Zappa was one of the most prodigious musical talents of the last Millenium, is pretty strange, don't you think ? I was wondering if it could be because John was very fond of Beefheart, and that Zappa & the Cap'n were famously not the best of friends following some contractual wrangling way back when. As John would say, 'answers on a postcard, please'....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I am so crap; it takes me weeks to get round to uploading anything, and often, by the time I do, I've forgotten exactly what's what...
I found this little gem lying in a drawer the other day, digitised and roughly edited it, then promptly forgot about it. Now I've had to listen to most of it again, to work out which way round it all goes, (not that that's a terribly odious task, but hell, I am supposed to be working) and somehow, I've found another completely unrelated session, recorded in the middle of it, that I don't even remember recording! If you see what I mean.... No? Ah well, I think I have it sorted now.
What it should be, is a session from Dave Clarke, which I think was recorded in Feb 04, and even though I think I've largely grown out of techno now, I still love this session; just pure, raw techno, the kind of stuff that still sounds good today, when most of the rest of it's ilk has gone the way of old cheese. I have a Dave Clarke recording from Glastonburger somewhere, that also sounds pretty damn fine - if I find it, I'll bung it your way.
There was some discussion on the Peel Yahoo list recently about the digitising og old vinyl, during which someone mentioned how utterly hit-and-miss some of yesteryear's music of the 'dance' genre is when you re-visit it today.
I guess a lot of us Peelers went through that crazy pill-poppin' club scene for a while, and thought at the time that the music was great and the scene would last forever, only to find a few years down the line, that the music was largely shite, and thank Christ it's all more or less over.
Sure, some of the 'IDM' stuff still sounds good - I'm still pretty partial to most of what came out of the Warp satble, for instance - and I can still get off on a good Drum n' Bass mix now and again. But either I'm getting too old to dance, or my missus is right, and you can't beat a good tune; a voice & a guitar, that kind of thing.

Anyway, back to the tape. There is a great footballing discussion at the beginning, betweeen Peel & Lamo, and, talking of good tunes, that wonderful Hitchers track about I guy trying to watch the football whilst his girlfriend is arguing at him. A bit lo in the fi stakes, I'm afraid, but life does indeed have surface noise, and even tape hiss sometimes...
Get it here

Friday, October 13, 2006

...and here's CD 2 (part 1 and part 2).
I made a few more of those editorial decisions, because although I'm not totally averse to a little Springstien now and then, I've always felt that once you've heard one of his live blockbusters, you've heard 'em all, so I've traded 9 minutes worth of Rosalita, for a couple of country gems off the first DVD.
Which says something about growing old, I guess, because 10 years ago I thought I didn't like anything that called itself country, whereas nowadays I find the sound of the pedal steel and a misty-eyed Southern twang strangely alluring.....

A word about the file formats. I've recently re-discovered Ogg Vorbis, after downloading something the other day which really blew me away with it's quality. The hippy in me loves the whole open-source thing, but I'd given up on .ogg's largely due to lack of available Mac software. But when I recently found out that not only can you drop them straight into Toast 7 to burn audio CD's, but that the Xiph QuickTime component for OS X actually works in iTunes now, I was chuffed to bits (btw, this is also available for Windows). So if it's OK with everyone else, I'll be sticking with this format from now on.
Which brings me to plug another great bit of audio freeware, a thing called Max - no, not the totally wonderful Max/MSP, that's another thing entirely, but a high quality audio encoder which does just what it says on the box.

I think If Peel had had the faintest idea of what software was, he might well have applauded the idea of freeware too.

CD 2 Tracklist
1. Talking Heads - Psycho Killer
2. XTC - Statue of Liberty
3. Blondie - Touched by Your Presenc
4. Meatloaf - Paradise by the Dashboard Light
5. Tom Petty-American Girl
6. Iggy Pop - I'm Bored
7. Bonny Rait-Too Long at the Fair
8. Emmylou harris-Amarillo
9. Tubeway Army - Are Friends Electric?
10. The Specials - a Message to you Rudy
11. The Ramones- Rock n' Roll High School
12. The Damned - Smash it up/ I Just can't be Happy Today
13. PIL - Careering
14. The Teardrop Explodes - Reward
15. Japan - the Ghosts of My Life
16. REM - Moon River/Pretty Persuasion
17. Robert Wyatt - Shipbuilding

Missing talking Heads track here (Thanks to Psychedelic Vulture for pointing this out)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Happy Peel Day! It's just a shame that the BBC seems to have such a short collective memory...
More than a shame really, when you stop to think how much John gave to them over so many years, and just a couple of years on, they offer such paltry commemoration playlist that you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd got the wrong day....ah, well.
My sincere apologies that I haven't got anything more Peelish for you myself today, but John often joked that he was forever being mistaken for Bob Harris, so maybe he would enjoy the irony of this offering on Peel Day.

Anyway, I was listening to (watching) the first of the Beeb's OGWT compilation DVD's this weekend, and decided that there were one or two performances therein (notably Tim Buckley's 'Dolphins', Robert Wyatt's 'Shipbuilding' and Tom Waits' Tom Traubert's Blues) that I had to have on CD, so I could l blub along to them in the car on my way to work. And as ripping audio from DVD's and compiling them onto CD's is a fairly lengthy task, I thought I might as well share the results.
I had to make a few editorial decisions, in order to fit it all on 2 CD's, but I'm assuming that no-one here would really miss Simply Red (though fair play to the man, he does have a fine voice), and I've never really cared much for the Police, and have never been able to understand what people see in U2 either. And classic or no, 12 mins of Freebird, I can also live without. And Elton John, and...OK, there's probably enough material for a 3rd CD, but I'm just too busy right now.

There are some truly wonderful performances on these discs, including the inevitable epic version of Skynyrd's Freebird (is there any other kind?), and a cracking piece of theatre from Meatloaf, which I can still remember watching as a kid, probably because there is a bit where you get a flash of tit from Loaf's co-performer (sorry, but what was her name ?).
Apparently, there were a number of complaints received at the BBC after it was shown, not so much for the tit content, but for the fact that it showed some big, ugly fat bloke getting it on with a skinny lovely on stage - I would have thought that it should be applauded for bringing a ray of hope into the lives to fat bastards everywhere, but there you go.
Actually I think the real reason for the complaints may well have been because Meat shouts "FUCK YOU" at the top of his voice at the end of the song, and presumably the Beeb's technicians were just too stunned by the performance to notice, or too impressed to edit it out afterwards.
A note for the Nerds; if you want to rip audio from DVD, then you need the mighty MPEG Streamclip - a wonderful piece of cross-platform freeware, which you'll find at . The author truly deserves your support, even though he/she doesn't seem to be asking for it - no 'Donate' buttons on the site! So that's 'free' as in "as a bird, babe"...

Here's Disc 1 part 1 and part 2 (tracklist below) and disc 2 will follow shortly...

1. Alice Cooper - Under my wheels
2. Curtis Mayfield - We Gotta have Peace
3. Randy Newman - Political Science
4. Bill Withers - Aint no Sunshine
5. Focus -Sylvia
6. Rory Gallagher - Hands Off
7. John Martyn - May you never
8. The Wailers - Stir it Up
9. Roxy Music - Do The Strand
10. Edgar Winter - Frankenstien
11. New York Dolls - Jet Boy
12. Tim Buckley - Dolphins
13. Captain Beefheart - Upon the My Oh My
14. Little Feat - Rock n' Roll doctor
15. Dr.Feelgood - Roxette
16. John Lennon - Stand By Me
17. Alex Harvey - Give My Compliments to the Chef
18. Tom Waits - Tom Trauberts Blues
19. Otway & Barret - Really Free

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

FF 2000. Because you demanded it, a Festive Fifty in it's true, raw state, complete with our John, tape hiss and songs cut off in their prime - yes, dear listener, this one's off a cassette.
A truly classic Fifty though: plenty of Delgados, Hefner, PJ Harvey, etc. The Cuban Boys and Cow Cube - what fun! Funny just how many 'Golden Eras' of Peel there seem to have been when you look back on it though, isn't it ?
Btw, you might like to know that as well as being on the Beeb's own Peel pages, you can find also full FF playlists at ,and as they're presented in nice clean lists, all on a single page, they're easier to copy/paste from for compiling those all-important CD labels.

Anyway, here's the gear:

Part 1 (50-43)

Part 2 (42-31)

Part 3 (30-20)

Part 4 (19-10)

Part 5 (9-1)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Boy, that was a long holiday, wasn't it? Or perhaps I've just been too lazy/busy recently... Anyway, I'm going to try to upload various random Peel tapes on a more regular basis now, and having recently returned from a wonderful couple of week in France, I thought I'd start with this , which is a session from Stereolab from '97.
Sexy French accents with just the right blend of electronics and old skool guitars n' drums - what more could you ask for ? Works for me, that's for sure...

Track List (according to the BBC - I haven't checked it):
Flower Called Nowhere
The Light
Refractions In The Plastic Pulse
Miss Modular
Metromonic Underground
John Cage Bubblegum