The Final Fifty

Page Two: D - I

Dickie Davies Eyes - Half Man Half Biscuit

Yes, them again. I would probably never have discovered the Biscuits had I never listened to Peel. I had the good fortune to come across their third Peel Session after only a few weeks of listening. I remember thinking, "How come I've missed great stuff like this?" This song was one of those session tracks, and was a must for the tapes which I (and thousands of others) were making of stuff from the programmes. "Mention 'The Lord Of The Rings' just once more / And I'll more than likely kill you." And this was years before the movie!

Disappearer - Sonic Youth

Along with The Pixies, Nirvana, The Butthole Surfers and others, these New York noisescapers were featured regularly on Peely's shows in the late 80s and beyond. This track, with what seem to me to be a science-fiction motif, appeared on their 1990 album Goo.

Does This Train Stop On Merseyside - Amsterdam

It probably helped their cause that the band comes from Liverpool and that this anthem to a sort of hopeful defiance had the word 'Merseyside' in the title for good measure. It certainly became one of John's favourite tracks of 2003, and even fell into the category of being one of those tracks he had to segué into the next one because he was always too emotional to speak after playing it. Sentimental old bugger (as if we'd have wanted him any other way).

Don't Touch That Dial - Cinerama

He'd been playing tracks by The Wedding Present from their beginnings, of course, so that when Weddoes front-man David Gedge went on to form Cinerama it was all but inevitable that they, too, would go on to become big favourites. Especially poignant in that this track was Number One in the last Festive Fifty Peel ever put together, in 2003.

Dr. Arnold Fanck - Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle

Some may think I should have gone for I Wish I Could 'Sprechen Sie Deutsch', but this is another track from the same Peel Session in August 1986, just after I'd started listening. It was years before I figured out that it was a song about a German film director of the 1920s and 1930s who was particularly keen on mountains, but the fact that someone could write such a song, and that someone would actually play it on national radio, was a beguiling one. F.S.K. were probably the most-often featured European performers down the years.

Flagpole - Bob

A group of students from the University of East Anglia in Norwich form a band. They release some nifty singles. Who, now, is there to play them? OK, Bob never became rich and famous (at least, not as musicians), but that doesn't mean they weren't talented. This psych-tinged number was a particular favourite of mine in 1990 as well.

God Knows It's True - Teenage Fan Club

Scottish bands also gained a lot from the attentions of The Sage Of Stowmarket. Long before he was playing Belle & Sebastian and Ballboy, these indie rockers were getting airtime with power pop like this.

Happy Shopper - Foreheads In A Fish Tank

The off-beat beats, samples and odd lyrics of this Essex outfit also earned the Great One's approval. I suppose the fact that their first album was called Buttocks may have contributed, too. Novelty alone would not account for the fact that the Foreheads did well enough to do two fascinating sessions for him.

Harmonium - Stereolab

The whole electronica thing was almost certainly given a big boost by Peel as well, with its use of sound styles reminiscent of late 60s easy listening and early 70s krautrock meshed with female vocals (often French, as here). Here are the prime exponents of the genre with an early 90s single featuring a Farfisa-drone-and-bass backing to Laetitia Sadier's cool voice.

High Tension Line - The Fall

No list of tracks relating to John Peel could possibly omit his all-time favourite band. I have to admit that The Fall's effects on me have been intermittent, so I've chosen this track from the only album of theirs that I have. 1991's Shift Work was one of their more accessible efforts and met with comparatively lukewarm approval from their Number One Fan, but there's enough there to get a taste without becoming disaffected.

How Soon Is Now? - The Smiths

Surely no band owed its success more to Peel than this one. The DJ's innate ability to spot true talent led him to play their records from the get-go, and in turn provide thousands with the essential soundtrack to that wretched time knows as The Thatcher Years. They could empathise with the outsider, the gauche, the excluded as portrayed in Morrissey's lyrics and put over with Johnny Marr's unique guitar style.

I Wanted To See You To See If I Wanted You - Moose

He could spot a happy sound too, as in this melodious little bouncer from the early-90s.

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