• 1968-12-18
  • The British Library's Sound & Moving Image Catalogue misdates the show as 1969-01-15
  • File contains the session of Harvey Matusow's Jews Harp Band which was broadcast on Night Ride. The first hour of Night Ride was hosted by Peel and the second by Jon Curle.
  • Interestingly, Radio Times gives them joint billing; "The world of words and music explored by John Peel and Jon Curle"[1] - rather than differentiating between Peel's hour and the "normal" Night Ride. Harvey's session was broadcast half on Peel's part and the other on Curle's section of the programme.
  • The Midnight News at the beginning of the audio reports an incident at a "pop concert" at the Royal Albert Hall, when a man and a woman took off all their clothes. A group of Indian singers were on stage when 200 of the audience moved into the main arena, singing and dancing. Things quietened down when police arrived and a girl stripped and others began to follow her example. One man stood naked for a time before dressing again. The concert eventually restarted with some quiet Indian music after the girl put on a coat. According to the Royal Albert Hall website, the event was called the Alchemical Wedding. The site also mentions a woman taking her clothes off, which led others to do the same.
  • In fact, it was a benefit for the London Arts Lab and hardly a pop concert, more a 1960s "happening"; a critical review of the event appeared in International Times[2] ("There were no ideas. Only simplicity....No alchemy here....The Angel of Death might have passed over this valley, only to be mistaken for Donovan..."). The Alchemical Wedding is best remembered for the presence of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who appeared onstage in a white bag[3], and was previewed by John and Yoko on the previous week's Night Ride (11 December 1968), when their enigmatic comments were interpreted by some listeners as obscene.
  • As well as listing the guests Peel mentions in his introduction, Ken Garner's The Peel Sessions notes that the show marks the return of John Muir as producer of JP's Night Ride.



(JP: 'Thank you very much, we have a lot of merry melodies, we have Bert Jansch, Danny Thompson, and Harvey Matusow's Jews Harp Band and poetry from Roger McGough and here's something from 2001, theme track of a theme thing, which we're featuring very heavily')
(JP: 'Uhm now a lot of people, uhm, there is an instrument, variously the Jews Harp or the Jaw's Harp, various other things and I got one you see from Birmingham, this is a, and I was playing to the 'Great Gilhooly'[1] in Yorkshire this evening over the phone, which isn't easy to do. It sounds like this (Peel plays the Jews Harp), I'm very clever on it. Well anyway here's an explanation of what it really sounds like from Harvey Matusow, who's head of the Harvey Matsow's Jews Harp Band')
(HM: 'There's lots of controversy about the Jews Harp. Some people say it's called the Jaw's Harp, other people say it's the Jewish Harp, but there's people in the South Seas, who call it something else. The natives have been playing it for a thousand of years there with made out of bamboo. The Jewish Harp as we know it, is a middle eastern instrument, which was in biblical times, played by the shepherds, the Jewish shepherds and in that section of the world, it was known as a Jewish harp, because Jewish shepherds played it. In Scotland and in Ireland, the Celtic countries, it was called the Jaw's Harp, played by other people and in the 18th century, Captain Cook said he brought the Jewish harps and called it the Jewish Harps then, to the native of the south seas, only to discover they had a bamboo version of it. The Australian Aborigines have a version of it, so it's really a universal instrument, sort of primitive in a way, which doesn't get involved in the western music idiom, it's more eastern. I like to introduce the group now, there's Rod Parsons, who at the moment is playing the bass Jews Harp (Rod plays a sample of it) and there's Chris Bayne, who's playing the tenor Jews Harp (Chris plays a sample of it) and Claude Lintott, who's playing an altar Jews Harp (Claude plays a sample of it). Claude Lintott by the way is 78 and he's been playing the Jews Harp for near 70 years and he's the oldest pop musician in the industry and we do have one other member, that's Anna Lockwood, who plays the bells with us, Anna just hit the Indian bells for us (Anna plays a sample of it). We like to start of with a piece which we call Conversation, actually the group just kind of have conversations with each other and if we will')
(JP: 'When I was very young, I used to read books by about a gentleman called Professor Branestawm, that had amazing drawings by Heath Robinson in them over the most unlikely machines and it's rather amazing that some of them might sound like that. The Harvey Matusow's Jews Harp Band and that was an untitled instrumental)
  • edit
  • Music from the Sarawak by the Kayan tribe (BBC Archives) (back announced)
(JP: 'Rock music from Sarawak by the Kayan tribe. I always had the insane desire actually to make archives privacy in my home, by sort of putting a tape recorder in the bath and throwing piles of refuse into the bath and things and telling you it's Eskimos firing arrows into ice blocks or something like that. One of these days I will do it')
  • Sound noise
(JP: 'And anyway it's back to Harvey Matusow's Jews Harp Band with a rather complex story which he would now explain to you')
(HM: 'The truth is frequently stranger than the fiction mentions. The story in what happen to me when I was released in prison after 4 years. Well I was in prison in America during the McCarthy period for political activities, and you start to think about what it's going to be like after you been in prison for a while, but what is it going to be like when you see your first woman after release and this certain breakthrough you hit when you get down to the last 90 days being in jail and it sort of builds up, you start to think more and more about women and what's it going to be like. When you get down to 60 days, it builds up with greater intensity and you dream about it at night, you think about all the women you met, all the women you ever talked to, all the women you made love with, well anything of this kind. When you get down to 30 days, it even gets more insane and more anxious you might say and the last 4 or 5 days become unbearable and it's then the doctor will issue you with sleeping pills and I remember getting sleeping pills, the only time in my life, the last 2 nights being in prison and I was finally released and it was a lovely August morning in 1960, it was the mountains in Pennsylvania and it was a crisp clear sky, a blue sky, the sun was shining and it was about 7.30 in the morning when I was taken out of the prison in the prison van or the prison car, uhh, being driven down to Montgomery, Pennsylvania, a small sleepy village in the mountains of Pennsylvania and I was saying and I'm going to see my first woman and when we went into the bus station, also a drugstore and I got in and was very disappointed because there was only the pharmacist and the short auto cook and no other woman and I thought I was in the twilight zone or something. I was very upset. A few minutes later I heard this tremendous raw, it sounded like a squadron jet airplane, but it was a diesel engine bus, or coaches you call them sometimes down here, and I hadn't heard that noise for 4 years and it was very sort of wild and I made up my mind then and there, that I wasn't going to look into the bus, but when the bus stopped, the driver got off and I was going to hand in my ticket, keep my head down, and get on to the bus facing forward and then count 3 to myself and turn quickly to see what I find and remember that first reaction to women and I handed in my ticket and kept my head down, walked upon the bus facing forward and I counted 1,2,3, turned and there were 18 nuns and that's all, the driver, me and 18 nuns)
(JP: 'And there you go that's Harvey Matusow's Jews Harp Band, the story of 18 nuns and...)
(JP: 'It was called Safe As Milk, if you make any sense out of all of that and it would be great when they come over here, I shall quit working and travel around with them for a couple of weeks. Harvey Matusow's Jews Harp Band and this is the Walking Toenail Blues')


  • 026A-C1193X0318XX-0100M0.mp3
  • 0:18:29 (Peel's section until 0:11:33)
  1. Sheila Gilhooly, his girlfriend at that time, who he married in 1974 to become his wife, Sheila Ravenscroft, until his death.
  2. Harvey calls the track Conversation, but in Ken Garner's book, The Peel Sessions, it's called Talk And Instrumental.
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