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.

Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here Far Too Dear

“And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?  We call it ‘riding the gravy train’”

That line is from “Have A Cigar”, the track that opens Side Two of Pink Floyd’s 1975 masterpiece “Wish You Were Here”.

Welcome to the machine. The nostalgia machine. In time for the Christmas market, Pink Floyd are releasing re-mastered versions of all their albums, including five-disc “Immersion Editions” of the two best, and best-loved, “Dark Side Of The Moon” and “Wish You Were Here”

There’s some great music here, but I’d hazard a guess that ninety percent of the people who are going to buy these overpriced reissues already have the albums.

You do not, emphatically  not need the new remixed, remastered editions. You especially do not need the new Immersion edition of Wish You Were Here.

You’ve already GOT Wish You Were Here.

The new immersion edition of Wish You Were Here costs £84.99. Let’s just put that out there. Thats fifteen notes short of a hundred pounds. For this you get three versions of the album – the original stereo mix, the Quadraphonic Mix, and the 5.1 Surround Mix.

No extra tracks, jams or outtakes from the sessions…

Plus you get two versions of a 1975 concert performance of the album, plus a selection of tacky collectibles that bear listing in full.

Two photo books. A scarf. Some marbles. Postcards. A replica gig ticket and backstage pass. And some cardboard drinks coasters.

Look, I know you love Pink Floyd.

You’re fifty, male and middle class. You were at school in the mid-seventies, when it was compulsory for middle-class boys to be into Pink Floyd.  And Yes. And King Crimson. And Genesis. Soul and reggae music was for the rough boys. Glam rock was for girls.

You love Pink Floyd, of course you do.

So do I. Wish You Were Here in particular. Its a lovely, warm, wistful album.

But you already have this music.

You  bought Wish You Were Here on the day it came out in 1975, in that black shrink-wrapped bag.

You had of course heard the album on Alan Freeman’s Radio One show the week before, and recorded it onto a C-60 cassette, which you played a lot

Later, when you got your first CD player, the first four CDs you bought (at sixteen pounds each) purchased in 1985 were – Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish you Were Here, Dare by the Human League (the wife likes them) and Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits.


If you have eighty-five quid to spare and you love Pink Floyd, there is a lot of music out there, in the same genre as Pink Floyd, that you may learn to love just as much:

Download Trojan Horse’s excellent album:

Trojan Horse are an up-and-coming band who describe their sound as “Prog Nouveau”. You can download their debut album here for £6.00:

Take your pick from the many records by The Pineapple Thief.

Basically the brainchild and project of Bruce Soord, these guys have been making prog-indie albums since 1999, building up a devoted following. Their latest album is “Someone Here Is Missing” and you can listen to bits of it  here.  In particular, check out the Storm Thorgerson album artwork. Admit it, Floydians, you’re interested!

Buy A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind

Amorphous Androgynous – formerly called the Future Sound Of London – these guys do killer mixes and compilations of old psychedelic gems mixed with some current stuff. This is the latest volume

“X And Y” – Coldplay

Yeah, I know you know all about Coldplay. But plenty of tracks on this album sound more like Pink Floyd than Pink Floyd did, at least after Roger Waters left. Its currently yours for less than four quid on Amazon.

Pink Floyd’s Soundtracks

The rest of Pink Floyd’s back catalogue. If you don’t already have all of this then why not fill in the gaps – for instance, the soundtrack albums. More? Obscured By Clouds? Roger Waters’ “Music From The Body”? Tonite Lets All Make Love In London? All worth your time. Except the last one, mind.

British Sea Power

British Sea Power’s “Man Of Aran” – British Sea Power are primarily an indie band. You may not like everything they do, but they wrote this new soundtrack to a 1934 film about islanders on Aran ekeing out a pre-modern lifestyle from the unforgiving land. Some of the long pieces in particular are very Floydian.

Go see a Pink Floyd Tribute Band

With half the original band no longer with us, and two of the three survivors no longer on speaking terms, a Floyd live reunion ain’t gonna happen – and if it does, it isn’t going to be any good. I mean, I watched the Live 8 performance on the telly and it was a bit ropey.

Think Floyd were one of the earliest and best Floyd tribute bands. Fourteen quid will get you in to see them playing at St Pauls Church in West London next week:

There are others, notably The Australian Pink Floyd. My personal favourite is a band called Interstellar Overdrive who I saw in Germany many years ago. They limit their selection to the Barrett / Waters led period – nothing after “Animals” except “Comfortably Numb”, which is just fine by me! You have to respect a semi-pro band who include a massive gong in their stage rig solely for “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”.

Just say “Yes” !

And finally, Floyd’s seventies prog contemporaries Yes are playing at Hammersmith Apollo next week, The difference is that Yes have been a working, breathing band ever since they began, barring the odd hiatus and many personnel changes, and they continue to produce new music to this day.

Tickets are £37.50 plus booking fee. Don’t even get me started on booking fees…

Now you may say that’s an outrageous price for a gig by a bunch of ageing prog-rockers. And you’d be right.

But it compares well with paying £84.99 for five versions of an album you already own several times over.

And… breathe. Breathe in the air.