A brand new crop of sessions will be here on the firstday of each month, replacing the ones before them. mr. obscure can be contacted via his old pal and cowering slave stuart Jones, at email@example.com
The English singer-songwriter and left-wing activist Billy Bragg blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs with lyrics that mostly span political or romantic themes. His music is centered on bringing about change and getting the younger generation involved in activist causes.
He developed an interest in poetry at the age of 12, when his English teacher chose him to read a poem he had written for a homework assignment on a local radio station. He put his energies into learning and practising the guitar with his next-door neighbour, Philip Wigg (Wiggy); some of their influences were the Faces, Small Faces and the Rolling Stones. He was also exposed to folk and folk-rock music during his teenage years, citing Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan as early influences on his songwriting. He was particularly influenced by the Clash, whom he'd seen play live in London in May 1977 on their White Riot Tour, and again at a Rock Against Racism carnival in April 1978, which he admits was the first time he really stepped into the world of music as it is used for political activism. The experience of the gig and preceding march helped shape Bragg's left wing politics, having previously "turned a blind eye" to casual racism. After three years in a punk band called Riff Raff
(there were a few singles) in May 1981 he joined the British Army. After completing three months basic training he bought himself out for £175 and returned home. Bragg peroxided his hair to mark a new phase in his life and began performing frequent concerts and busking around London, playing solo with an electric guitar under the name Spy Vs. Spy (after the comic strip in Mad magazine). His demo tape initially got no response from the record industry, but by pretending to be a television repair man, he got into the office of Charisma Records' A&R man Peter Jenner. Jenner liked the tape, but the company was near bankruptcy and had no budget to sign new artists. Bragg got an offer to record more demos for music publisher Chappell & Co., so Jenner agreed to release them as a record. Life's a Riot with Spy Vs. Spy (credited to Billy Bragg) was released in July 1983 by Charisma's new imprint, Utility. Hearing Peel mention on-air that he was hungry, Bragg rushed to the BBC with a mushroom biryani, so Peel played a song from the album, although at the wrong speed. Billy signed to go! discs records and many fine releases ensued over the forthcoming years - between 1983 and 2013 he issued ten albums. there were no less than eleven peel sessions! The first was taped on 27/10/1983.
Drop Nineteens were a Boston-based indie rock band active from 1991 to 1995. They were one of a few U.S.-based groups who styled themselves on England's distinctive
shoegazing sound, taking their inspiration from bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. Much like Boston's Pixies who came before them, Drop Nineteens were better
known in the UK, where, as an unsigned band, they first gained attention from the British music press with two 8-track demos. The band ultimately reached the UK's Indie Album and Singles charts with formal releases after signing to Caroline Records (Hut Records in the UK). They garnered college radio airplay with their 1992 debut album, Delaware. their second, National Coma, featured a cover design showing a photograph of a reclining nude woman, painted entirely white, wearing a white ski mask, in front of a white background. Most CD copies have a jumbled (censored) version of this photo, while LPs have the original cover. after much touring the band broke up for good in 1995.
Afterwards, two of them recorded an album under the name Fidel in the late nineties, which was never formally released. Rumors of a third Drop Nineteens album have circulated over the past decade but no release date has ever been announced. this is the first of no less than four sessions i'm giving you this month which all have one thing in common - they were one-offs: bands who visited the beeb's studios for uncle john just once. drop nineteens immortalised theirs on 15/11/1992.
The Canadian singer-songwriter, painter, genius and goddess Joni Mitchell has deeply influenced fellow musicians in a diverse range of genres. She's known as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, and may stand as the most important
and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century. Her lyrics are noted for their developed poetics, addressing social and environmental ideals alongside personal feelings of romantic longing, confusion, disillusion, and joy. She began singing in small nightclubs in Saskatchewan and western Canada and then busking in the streets and shoddy nightclubs of Toronto. In 1965, she moved to the United States and began touring. Some of her songs were covered by folk singers, allowing her to sign with Reprise Records and record her awesome debut album in 1968. Settling in Southern California, she helped define an era and a generation. Her 1971 collection Blue was rated the 30th best album ever made in various greatest albums of all Time lists. She began moving toward jazz rhythms by way of lush pop textures on 1974's slinky Court and Spark, her best-selling LP, featuring the radio hits "Help Me" and "Free Man in Paris". Her wide-ranging contralto vocals and distinctive open-tuned guitar and piano compositions grew more harmonically and rhythmically complex as she explored jazz, melding it with influences of rock and roll, R&B, classical music, and non-western beats. In the late 1970s, she began working closely with noted jazz musicians, among them Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, and Charles Mingus, who asked her to collaborate on his final recordings. She turned again toward pop,
embraced electronic music, and engaged in political protest. Her musical output from 1968 to 1977 beggars comparison - these albums are simply incredible. She describes herself as a "painter derailed by circumstance". here's Joni's very rare, only session appearance for Peel, a Top Gear recording immortalised on 23/09/1968.
The Leyton Buzzards were a British rock band active between 1976 and 1980. They took their name from their home town of Leyton, an area of east London, punning upon the name of the Bedfordshire town, Leighton Buzzard. They were initially a Pub rock band but soon adapted to punk rock/New Wave. Their debut single, "19 and Mad", was released in 1977 by Small Wonder Records. They won a high-profile "battle of the bands" competition organized by BBC Radio 1 and gormless uk newspaper The Sun, resulting in
a major-label deal with Chrysalis Records. the first fruits of this deal, "Saturday Night (Beneath the Plastic Palm Trees)", reached Number 53 in the UK Singles Chart in March 1979 and led to an appearance on Top of the Pops. They shortened their name to The Buzzards for the 1979 single "We Make a Noise" and the album Jellied Eels to Record Deals, before reverting back to The Leyton Buzzards for their final single, "Can't Get used to Losing You". The band split up in 1980, with the two main songwriters going on to greater chart success with vomit-inducingly bland pop act Modern Romance. peel liked the buzzards quite a bit, giving them four sessions. here's the last, preserved on 14/01/1980.
British oddballs the Mekons formed in the late 1970s and are one of the longest-running and most prolific of the first-wave British punk rock bands.Through the years their musical style has incorporated aspects of country music, folk music, alternative rock and occasional experiments with dub.
These days The Mekons are often described as a post-punk, cowpunk and/or alt country band. They were formed in 1977 by a group of University of Leeds art students: Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett, Mark White, Andy Corrigan and Tom Greenhalgh - the Gang of Four and Delta 5 formed from the same group of students. They took the group name from the Mekon, an evil, super-intelligent Venusian featured in the British 1950s-1960s comic Dan Dare (printed in the Eagle). The first single was "Never Been in a Riot", a satirical take on the Clash's White Riot. For several years the loose-knit line-up played noisy, bare-bones post-punk, releasing singles on a variety of labels. The first album, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen, was recorded using the Gang of Four's instruments and due to an error by the Virgin Records art department featured pictures of the Gang of Four on the back cover. After 1982's The Mekons Story, a compilation of old recordings, the band ceased activity for a while, with Langford forming The Three Johns. By the mid-1980s (revitalised by the 1984 miners' strike) the Mekons had returned as an active group. They were now augmented by vocalist Sally Timms, violinist Susie Honeyman,
ex-Damned member Lu Edmonds, accordionist/vocalist Rico Bell (a.k.a. Eric Bellis), and former Rumour drummer Steve Goulding and Kelvin Weech on lead guitar. They began to experiment with musical styles derived from traditional English folk (tentatively explored on the English Dancing Master EP prior to the hiatus), and American country music. Fear and Whiskey (1985), The Edge of the World (1986) and Honky Tonkin (1987) exemplified the band's new sound, which built on the innovations of Gram Parsons and blended punk ethos and left wing politics with the minimalist country of Hank Williams. Subsequent albums
continued to experiment with diverse instrumentation (notably the fiddle and slide guitar). The Mekons Rock and Roll was the band's first major label release. Issued by A&M Records in 1989, itwas not a commercial success but met with critical acclaim. Just as the Mekons began to grow in critical stature, their relationship with A&M Records became tense and the group were dropped by the label, unable to fulfill their commercial expectations. However, they continued to record at a prolific rate, releasing a number of albums. In April 2009 they returned to the studio to complete a new collection of songs, released in 2011 as Ancient and Modern on Bloodshot Records. In a February 2011 interview Langford discussed the music documentary about the band, Revenge of the Mekons, directed by Joe Angio. The film premiered in 2013 at the DOC NYC festival with members of the group in attendance. peel was a big Mekons fan, giving them no less than six sessions. the fourth was recorded on 17/12/1980. here it is.
Section 25 formed in Poulton-le-Fylde near Blackpool, Lancashire in 1977. Initially they were a duo, brothers Larry Cassidy (bass, vocals) and Vincent Cassidy (drums). June 1979 saw the brothers promote a charity gig in aid of International Year of the Child at Blackpool Imperial Hotel, featuring Section 25 and other local bands as well as Joy Division and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. As a result Section 25 were invited to play at the Russell Club in Manchester, and joined Factory Records. Their debut 7", "Girls Don't Count", was released in July 1980 on Factory, produced by Ian Curtis and Rob Gretton of Joy Division.
All Section 25 releases would be released through either Factory (until the demise of that label), or sister imprint Factory Benelux. Their debut LP, Always Now, appeared in 1981 and was produced by Martin Hannett at Britannia Row studio. The pochette sleeve was among the most expensive and elaborate in the label's history (designed by Peter Saville) utilising an exclusive 'marble' effect design printed on the inner jacket and a fold-out cover that resembled a match-book similar to the cover used by Cabaret Voltaire for their 2x45 album. The group played many gigs in Britain and Northern Europe between 1979 and 1981, both as a
headline act and with other Factory Records artists, such as Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, Blurt, The Durutti Column, Crispy Ambulance and New Order. They released a self-produced second album, The Key of Dreams. However the original line-up split in September 1981. Factory boss Tony Wilson tried and failed to recruit then-unknown guitarist Johnny Marr as a replacement. Joined by percussionist Lee Shallcross, Section 25 gradually evolved with a more electronic-dance direction, a process which culminated in the album From the Hip and remix single "Looking From A Hilltop", both released in 1984 and produced by Bernard Sumner of New Order. This second iteration of the band also featured the Cassidy brothers' sister Angela Flowers (vocals, keyboards) and Larry Cassidy's wife Jenny Ross (vocals, keyboards). The five-piece completed a lengthy second tour of North America in January 1985, where the single "Looking From A Hilltop" achieved a measure of club success. Later in 1985 the single "Crazy Wisdom" emerged on Factory Benelux as a 12", but the group again splintered, leaving husband-and-wife team Larry Cassidy and Jenny Ross to complete a fourth album, Love & Hate, finally released by Factory in 1988. Section 25 then fell silent for more than a decade, although their entire back catalogue was reissued on CD on LTM as well as an archive DVD, So Far. There have also been several live and rarity CDs released by the same label. In 2001 the band regrouped and started composing new material. It was originally expected that this would form the basis for a new album, but these plans were derailed by the
death of Jenny Ross in 2004. Eight Section 25 albums have been issued between 1981 and 2013. Their only peel session was put down on 13/01/1981.
The legendary Undertones formed in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1974. From 1975 to 1983, they were Feargal Sharkey (vocals), John O'Neill (rhythm guitar, vocals), Damian O'Neill (lead guitar, vocals), Michael Bradley (bass, vocals) and Billy Doherty (drums). Much of their earlier material drew influence from punk rock and new wave; they also incorporated elements of rock, glam rock and post-punk into material released after 1979, before citing soul and Motown as the influence on their final album. They released thirteen singles and four studio albums between 1978 and 1983 before Sharkey announced his intention to leave the band in May 1983, citing musical differences as the reason for the break up. Despite the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland where the band lived, the vast majority (though not all) of the material they released focused not on the political climate but on issues such as adolescence,
teenage angst and heartbreak. They mated infectious guitar hooks to 1960s garage, 1970s glam rock, and Feargal Sharkey's signature vocal quaver. In 1999 they reformed, replacing lead singer Feargal Sharkey with Paul McLoone. The Undertones remain one of the most successful bands to have emerged from Northern Ireland. Their first two albums are wonderful and the first eight singles are quite simply one hundred percent pop classics. peel loved them and gave them six sessions. here's the second, taped on 22/01/1979.
The list of band names below is purely for illustrative purposes - I don't pretend to have sessions by all these people - but I do have a frightening amount of them.