John Peel or ‘4 Real’?

Hmm…as the dust has settled on the John Peel day/week/memorial single activities I can see more clearly why was beginning to be bemused by this John Peel Day and Radio 1 spectacular...

Firstly (and most importantly) the music they played was great – I really wished they’d do this more often; rather than a public broadcaster aping commercial radio and playing anodyne crap (of all sorts, from Jo Whiley coffee-mug indie to Pete Tong and his bangin’ nonce-sense) – to hear silly hardcore tunes sampling Chicago nestling next to the Wedding Present, Ivor Cutler and Napalm Death was a joy to hear. And reminded me what was so special about John Peel was his catholic taste in music. They played some tracks I’d not heard before; and like a schoolkid I taped them via MP3 (well cassette is a bit old skool now) and then ran off to the great big interweb to see if I can find them…;-D

That reminded me of exactly the excitement I lack when I listen to radio nowadays. The marketing and PR departments have won and you know what’s going to be released months in advance by who gets interviewed that week and is doing the rounds…sadly it’s only when you get a Crazy Frog or a Hamster Dance does it actually come from nowhere, record company PR-wise anyway…

All the other acts have their pre-release schedules, slots, previews and exclusives to the point that you’re bored of the bleeding song (or the band as they are so finely demographically niched that their lifespan is now listed in nano-seconds).

But the presenters on the John Peel Day show and inane babble was depressing and showed exactly what’s wrong with Radio 1 – you don’t talk down to your audience, you don’t do I’M SO wAcKy aNd zAney (lOwe) and talk like a bad Avid Merrion spoof of a DJ, be ’90’s throwback Jo Whiley’ as 2 seperate friends coined her, and do the tacky ‘on-the-spot- factless reportage that stands for ‘reality’ radio nowadays. *shudder*. Actually the only surprise was that Colin and Edith were seemingly bearable with some decent music for a change, and Colin admitting that John Peel would in fact be horrified that he was doing it and hated his taste in music…:-D

I think the most important point (one that a few blogs I’ve read have missed) is that I’m sure that John Peel would have been touched by all the gigs and that his fans genuinely still cared…that was the bit that Radio 1 did get right apart from the playlist – many of the songs were suggestions and they played phone calls from the public talking about the gigs they’d arranged and memories of him.

Thing that stuck out most was a bit they played from John himself saying to a 14 year old girl that wrote in and was having difficulties with her parents. He said that yes it is hard sometime, and here’s the record you wanted and I hope it makes you feel better.

That’s why the man was special; not charidee records featuring past-it stars or memorial days or radio show tributes.

I hope my John Peel podcast (ooh the irony!) and other podcasts like it were more fitting tributes than the radio show – who knows? But I felt the man should have some sending off, something I didn’t do last year.

I do know the best tribute is to go and listen to some music you’ve never heard before tho; and tell someone about it..

…so there’s this breakcore act called Bong Ra right…;-)

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