The First Festive Fifty Of Them All

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.

Good, innit?

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.

Katie Malco – The Lexington

Friday 4th November, 2011

First act on at the Lexington last Friday was Katie Malco.

Her voice sounds like honey soaked in whisky. Her songs occupy the same territory as Sarabeth Tucek and Laura Veirs (to these ears). All doe-eyes and wistful and melancholy. She’s left-handed but plays a right-handed guitar much like that other great doe-eyed musician, Paul McCartney did, at least in the early days.

There aren’t many punters in this early at the Lexington. Can’t believe all the hipster HerNameIsCalla fans have something better to do than get here early for the supports. Heck, school finishes around 4 in the afternoon, doesn’t it?

So Katie plays her beautiful songs to a solo guitar and an audience of maybe twenty people, mainly sitting down. She charmingly forgets the words to some Bob Dylan song or other but so what?

Robert Plant famously forgot the words to Stairway To bloody Heaven at Knebworth in 1978, possibly the most famous rock song ever written at that time (and number one in John Peel’s inaugural Festive 50 in 1976, fact lovers.  You think I had to look that up? Hah ! I remember TAPING the show at the time !). And he wrote the bugger!

Katie remembers her own songs fine though, and you can tell that this is what she really wants to do, her own stuff. Although her other cover is interesting (a cover of a mate’s song, whose name I  didn’t catch unfortunately) and I get why people want to do covers early on, I’d say she’d be better sticking to her own excellent material..

Or failing that, do the Abba and Zeppelin covers that she alluded to towards the end of her set … (Knowing Me Knowing You or Immigrant Song could work … just sayin’ … )

I downloaded her debut 5-track EP off of bandcamp, and its loverly.  Best £2.50 I’ve spent all week.

Forthcoming gig with Katie givineg her Courtney Love as her band play a set of Hole covers this Saturday at Brixton Windmill (supporting the Cash-In Pumpkins 8=) ), which I am gutted to be missing … ( I need to put in an appearance at home every now and then or the Wife will forget who I am)

Go see her soon.