Blast First is a sub label of one-time independent record label Mute Records, founded in approximately 1985. The label was founded by Paul Smith to give UK release to albums by Sonic Youth, a US band with which he was then working closely. It went on to feature more hardcore rock bands than the master label of its synthpop-oriented parent company.

(Read more at Wikipedia.)

Links to Peel

Peel was a huge fan of Blast First during the label's early years, when the indie rock-centered operation under Mute Records became known particularly for giving UK releases to a dynamic new generation of US alternative bands. Writing in the Observer at the end of 1988, the DJ endorsed “almost anything on the Blast First label” in his best-of-year roundup.[1] Around the same time, he was widely quoted as describing Blast First as the “most important label of the age”.[2] [3]

Generous airtime was given to landmark albums of the late 1980s by US bands including Big Black,[1] Butthole Surfers, Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth, with many of Blast First’s American artists recording Peel sessions while on tour in the UK. Among the label’s British acts, Head Of David appeared in the DJ's year-end Festive Fifty Session Broadcasts in both 1986 and 1987. In October 1989, his Radio One show featured competitions to win copies of Blast First compilation “Nothing Short Of Total War (Part One)”[4] as well as the related 10x7" box set “Devil's Jukebox”[5]. The DJ even played a track by the band Arsenal despite his strong dislike for the football team of the same name.

The strength of the early Blast First roster rested heavily on label founder Paul Smith’s ties with Sonic Youth, who introduced many bands they knew from the American alternative circuit, but the New York group eventually departed to sign a worldwide deal with a major and other US bands followed their example, dealing a heavy blow to the UK independent. With Peel’s main focus across the Atlantic also shifting, to the emerging grunge scene on Seattle-based Sub Pop, fewer Blast First releases were subsequently heard on his shows.

In later years, however, occasional sessions by Blast First artists did continue to appear on Peel's R1 programmes, including from Labradford, Terrashima and Finnish electronic music outfit Panasonic. In 2003, after Mute had been acquired by EMI, San Francisco indie rock combo Erase Errata became the final band on Blast First to enter the Maida Vale studios for the DJ.


Blast First artists who recorded Peel sessions. List includes sessions when the artists were not on Blast First.

Festive Fifty

The list below covers Festive Fifty entries on Blast First; it does not include entries by Blast First artists on other labels.

Big Black - L Dopa

Big Black - L Dopa




Plays by Peel from various artist (v/a) releases on Blast First.

(LP - Nothing Short Of Total War (Part One))

(10 x 7" box set - Devil's Jukebox)

(CD - Sonic Mook Experiment 3: Hot Shit)



  1. Big Black leader Steve Albini would be a continuing presence on Peel's shows over subsequent decades, both as a musician and a producer.
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