In 1976, in those odd in-between days between Christmas and New Year when you’re not quite sure if the country is on holiday or at work, fourteen-year-old me listened avidly to John Peel broadcasting his Festive Fifty songs of the year on BBC Radio One.
Unlike subsequent years, this was an all-time listing, summed up here in twelve minutes.
I’m going to make a cup of tea while you watch and marvel at it.
Still stands up to this day as a superb list, combining the obvious …
… with the idiosyncratic
… and the occasional complete curve ball
There’s even a couple of Genesis tracks. But we shall move swiftly past THOSE.
Oh, and this Prog Classic by Yes sneaked in at number 50,making it the first Festive Fifty record to be broadcast. Bet Peel LOVED that.
There was no chart the following year, but it resumed in 1978 and continued in its more familiar role as a chart of songs that came out in the current year, until the DJ’s untimely death in 2004.
Strictly speaking, of course, it wasn’t Peel’s Festive Fifty at all – it was, as he frequently stressed, his listeners’ Festive Fifty.
Quite a few fans have carried on the tradition to this day, selecting or voting for tracks they think would have made the chart, had Peel still been with us. Again, these are all well worth checking out.
Special mention to Dandelion Radio, an Internet radio station which plays Peelmusic. They do a Festive Fifty every year, voted for by listeners, and you can hear it every day from Xmas Day until the end of January. They’re fully PRS licensed too, btw, which I think Peel would have liked.