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John Peel - Blind Date

Blind Date was a feature in Melody Maker, where celebrities reviewed new singles of the week, without being told at first who the artists were, hence the name Blind Date. It is not known when it started, but it may have been inspired by the long-running "Blindfold Test" feature in the jazz magazine DownBeat. By 1964 it had become a regular part of the paper's singles review page[1], and continued into September 1968, when MM introduced a New Blind Date, which switched its focus to include not only singles, but also album tracks. After a few weeks the feature reverted to its earlier name of Blind Date, although the "new" element - the wider range of tracks - was retained

Links To Peel

Peel first appeared as a guest on Blind Date in the March 30th 1968 issue of Melody Maker, when he reviewed the following singles:

  • Fleetwood Mac: Black Magic Woman (7") Blue Horizon (..."I'm glad Peter Green's LP is doing well and it's great to release a single, because it gives me the opportunity to play him, but saleswise it won't mean much. Peter has one of the best five groups in the country, along with the Nice, Pink Floyd and John Mayall. They're very human on stage and their music is very exciting. They were doing rock and roll before the revival which I think is a bit of a drag incidentally. You can't recapture an era. When the New Vaudeville Band did "Winchester Cathedral", nobody started a Noel Coward revival. I was so choked and disillusioned by the Beatles record. I could live without hearing it again whereas I have to hear "Walrus" regularly otherwise I have withdrawal pains")
  • Tim Buckley: Wings (7" - Wings / I Can't See You) Elektra ("Very sad people don't hear records like this. If you listen to Tim Buckley properly you can't fail to be affected by him. This is from his first LP. It really upsets me people only listen to recipes and telephone calls on the radio and the music is like the ultimate in wallpaper.")
  • Incredible String Band - Painting box

    Incredible String Band - Painting box

    Incredible String Band: Painting Box (7") Elektra ("More Elektra I know this again. I just hope everybody goes to their concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Plug! I really think the Incredible String Band will rule the world in a year's time. Things they do are perfect. No weaknesses and totally original in everything they do. Their sound is so intricate and delicate, like an exquisite tapestry.")
  • Dr. West's Medicine Show And Junk Band: Bullets La Verne (7") Page One ("I was the first person in the world to play their hit "The Egg Plant That Ate Chicago" when I was working in California. They came to see me all dressed like magicians and driving Rolls Royces. They're incredibly nice people and we just drove around for two days. I like this because I like them, but nobody will buy it. They take amateur musicianship to its logical conclusion. They play anything they find lying around. No - not like the Bonzos because they are on another planet. I used to rig the chart like hell in California and get their records in. Captain Beefheart was up to number four when he had sold not very many records.")
  • Harpers Bizarre: Cotton Candy Sandman (7") Warner Bros. ("You've got me here. The voices sound as if they have been speeded up. Nice start, but they are a bit like an American Herman's Hermits - a bit twee. Not exciting enough to have last thoughts on. I hate to put records down, but that's a bit bland.")
  • Roger Whittaker: Talk To The Animals (7" - Mexican Whistler) Columbia ("Oh take it off, it's Rex Harrison or somebody trying to sound like him. That's awful, take it off!...It would be nice to have communication with animals though. I could go home to my new hamster Biscuit and say: "What sort of day did you have?" I'm terrified Walt Disney or someone would get hold of Lords Of The Rings. I was supposed to meet Tolkien at a reception the other day, but I was thrown out. I'm sure there are elves about - but not in Kilburn.")
  • Procol Harum - Shine On Brightly - 01 - Quite Rightly So

    Procol Harum - Shine On Brightly - 01 - Quite Rightly So

    Procol Harum: Quite Rightly So (7") Regal Zonophone ("This is Procol Harum. I haven't heard this one. You can take it off. Everyone will say it's not similar to the others and be too afraid to say it is. It is. I like it, but it won't do as well as "Homburg," which didn't do as well as "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" which is a shame. When I met them, they were definitely stars, which is sad because the fellow can write some surrealist words and the guitarist is good. I'm always very suspecious of groups that suddenly arrive with a bang and all dynamic promotion people. The quicker they come, the quicker they go. It's better to sweat it out for a few years and have then thousand kids behind you rather than one dynamic promotion man. Look at the Beatles. They went through some really gross times, and they have made their mark, I think you could say.")
  • Roy Harper: Life Goes By (7") CBS ("Take it off. That's Roy Harper. I don't like it as much as the other things he's done, although I suppose it's more commercial. People keep saying he's England's Bob Dylan, which is a drag because he's England's Roy Harper. There are some beautiful things on his LP. He must have had a hang up life because it comes out in his music. There are some very bizarre things in his songs. He empties himself in front of you. I'd sooner see him in the chart than the turgid people who seem to have suffered pre-natal death.")
  • Leonard Cohen: Suzanne (7") CBS ("Oh wow, this is Leonard Cohen. This is so beautiful. I must listen. The world should be flooded with this, so we could all float away. This fills you up with summer. Leonard Cohen is a poet. It's so good that he can sing as well - a very spare and simple voice. No embellishments. All poets should record. I see Tolkien has an LP of things from Lord Of The Rings with music by Donald Swann. It's good because it's crossing the barriers - like Donovan. You can buy a person in cellophane packet and they live for you on the turntable.")

He appeared again as a Blind Date guest in the Melody Maker of 19 April 1969 (pp.16-17)[2], when he reviewed the following records:

  • Leviathan: The War Machine (7") Elektra ("produced by my old mate, Clive Selwood")
  • Manfred Mann: Ragamuffin Man (7") Fontana ("You really couldn't tell it was Manfred Mann...It's very well done, but so was the Second World War")
  • Beatles with Billy Preston: Get Back (7") Apple ("I wish I knew what the Beatles were thinking...")
  • Al Kooper: You Never Know Who Your Friends Are (7") CBS ("Is that an entry for next year's Eurovision Song Contest?")
  • Liverpool Scene: The Woo-Woo (7") RCA Victor ("Listen - Mike Evans sounding like Rudi Pompilli"[1])
  • Diana Ross & The Supremes: I'm Livin' In Shame (7") Tamla Motown ("Obviously they are into social conscience now because they have stopped wearing wigs")
  • Steamhammer: Juniors Wailing (7") CBS ("The whole British blues thing is falling into itself")
  • Chicken Shack: I'd Rather Go Blind (7") Blue Horizon ("I really like [Christine Perfect] as a person and a singer...Yeah, she's got nice legs too. I really hope this is a number one")

Blind Date was also one of the Melody Maker features in which Peel was most frequently mentioned. Many Blind Date guests were sympathetic to the DJ and his musical tastes, but others weren't - see the Other Mentions sections of the Melody Maker: 1968 and Melody Maker: 1969 pages for examples.

References

  1. Rudy Pompilli (1924-1976) was tenor saxophonist with Bill Haley And His Comets.

See Also

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