Saturday, January 28, 2006

John Peel's Festive 15

The January edition of Uncut magazine had a spiffy little free CD attached. I don't usually buy the mag, but the allure of a compilation called John Peel's Festive 15 was too great. One look at the tracklist and it was a done deal. It gathers fifteen tracks that made it onto Peel's annual end of year lists, the "Festive 50". The lists were voted on by the listeners, who mailed in their choices, and the results were tabulated by John himself, by hand, into an old ledger. As you would expect, it's a very diverse list of artists, a veritable who's who of indie rock. The mag's accompanying featurette has a nice tracklist rundown and also includes a few interesting facts. The Fall had the most entries - a staggering 92 songs total. Also pretty amazing - The Smiths, between the years 1983 and 1987 had 36 entries on the lists.

1. Half Man Half Biscuit - The Trumpton Riots
2. Camper Van Beethoven - Take The Skinheads Bowling
3. Spizzenergi - Where's Captain Kirk?
4. The Mighty Wah! - Remember
5. The Sugarcubes - Birthday
6. The Woodentops - Well Well Well
7. Billy Bragg - The Saturday Boy
8. The Field Mice - Sensitive
9. Bhundu Boys - Foolish Harp / Waerera
10. Pavement - Gold Soundz
11. Felt featuring Elizabeth Fraser - Primitive Painters
12. The House Of Love - Destroy The Heart
13. Wedding Present, The - Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft
14. Robert Wyatt - Shipbuilding
15. The Fall - Eat Y'self Fitter

The Spizzenergi tune is a great blast of Trekkie new wave/punk, a 1980 track that has the distinction of being the first #1 record on the then just established UK Independent Singles chart. Spizz carried on for several more years, mutating into Athletico Spizz '80, Spizzorwell, Spizzsexual and Spizzorbit. The other tune is a brilliant song from 1985's list by Felt. It has the unique sonic quality of a Cocteau Twins song, due to the production of the Cocteaus' Robin Guthrie, and also due to the vocals provided by his counterpart Liz Fraser. The song is an uptempo rocker with swirly guitars and swelling organ, and singer Lawrence's Lou Reed drawl is perfectly matched by Liz' heavenly pipes. I love the way this tunes just builds and builds into the big guitar solo break. A classic bit of '80s indie Britrock.

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