Legendary new music man John Peel died 12 years ago today. In memory of the radio icon, we thought we’d delve into the Internet’s history box and bring you 10 of the best ever John Peel Sessions.
There were hundreds to choose from, obviously, so below you’ve got a few famous ones, as well as a handful of random picks which are personal favourites from the NME office.
Sonic Youth – Victoria
It’s the Youth! Covering The Fall! Covering The Kinks! What more could you ask for?
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Spanish Dance Troupe
The Welsh wonders get trippy in 1998.
The Mo-Dettes – Peel session 1981
This wasn’t the session that got the London punks noticed initially, but it is still great all the same – and ‘White Rabbit’ is THE sound of west London, early 1980s.
Happy Mondays – Tart Tart
One of the absolute best Mondays’ rarities, ‘Tart Tart’ is 100% Mancunian insecurity, wrapped up in a brutal funk workout. The Peel version of it throws in a load of weird, jet-taking-off noises for good measure.
The Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet
If only for John Perry’s masterful guitar work, which seems even more elasticised here than on the released version.
The Redskins – Peel session 1983
An epic session from the rockabilly outfit, who by rights should have been huge.
Hole – Peel session 1991
Yeah, Nirvana may have done the better known Peel sessions, but this one by Courtney and co is just as good. Featuring the first known studio version of ‘Violet’.
Pixies – Honey Pie
It’s Frank Black screaming his way through one of The Beatles most fucked up songs. Match made in heaven/hell.
Jeffrey Lewis – The Modern Age
“Goodbye to the old neighbourhood, this is the new neighbourhood these days I guess”. I can vividly remember sitting in my bedroom and hearing Jeffrey Lewis say that as he started the most ramshackle cover of The Strokes’ recently released single ‘The Modern Age’ imaginable. It felt genuinely exciting, like he’d just perfectly summed up something great. The rest of the cover lets it down (it limps over the finish line), but it doesn’t matter – particularly as Lewis turns in a masterful rendition of his great single ‘The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song’ on the same session.
Smiths – The second Peel session
The version of ‘This Charming Man’ here is as good as the single version, while also sounding remarkably different. Which is really saying something.
And, for luck, here’s the NME office’s favourite White Stripes Peel session cut:
The White Stripes – Jack The Ripper (15 mins 50 seconds):