The Idle Race were a British rock group from Birmingham in the late 1960s and early 1970s who had a cult following but never enjoyed mass commercial success. In addition to being the springboard for Jeff Lynne, the band holds a place of significance in British Midlands' pop-rock history as a link between The Move, Electric Light Orchestra, the Steve Gibbons Band and Mike Sheridan & The Nightriders.

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Links to Peel

"You get much more money if you've got a hit and the colleges will still like us because John Peel plays us.…" (Jeff Lynne, Melody Maker, Aug. 30 1969, pg11: "Why no success for Idle Race?") [1]

Despite strong support from Peel and others, the Idle Race failed to match the chart popularity of Birmingham contemporaries such as session bands The Move and Moody Blues, as noted in the 1995 Peel-narrated TV documentary Rock Family Trees: Birmingham Beat. Band leader Jeff Lynne left in early 1970 to join the Move and would go on to enjoy many hits with Electric Light Orchestra and the all-star Traveling Wilburys, who included Peel favourite Roy Orbison, while in 1972 the final Idle Race line-up became the Steve Gibbons Band, who later recorded three Peel sessions.

Idle race here we go round the lemon tree

Idle race here we go round the lemon tree

The Idle Race racked up six Top Gear sessions in less than two years during the Lynne era, but none after his departure. Two of their singles were played on the programme’s inaugural show in October 1967, in the first week of BBC Radio One, introduced by Peel and Pete Drummond. These included “Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree”, which also featured in the DJ’s last month of R1 shows, in September 2004, and was later found among the treasured 45s in John Peel's Record Box.

In 2012, three albums by the Idle Race were among the first 100 by artists beginning with I when initial details of Peel’s Record Collection were released online.[2] Their first LP, “Birthday Party” (1968), pictured the DJ (among others) on the inside of the gatefold sleeve.[3] In his ABC Of Beauty, published in November 1968, Peel commented:

"Observant songs very well performed. The [debut] LP should be heard again and again."

Festive Fifty Entries

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1. Recorded 1967-10-02. First broadcast: 08 October 1967. Repeated 12 November 1967.

  • I Like My Toys / Hey Grandma / Knocking Nails Into My House / Imposters Of Life’s Magazine / Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree

2. Recorded 1968-02-19. First broadcast: 25 February 1968.

  • The Lady Who Said Would Fly / Skeleton And The Roundabout / Tell Me The Time / Don’t Put Your Boys In The Army Mrs Ward

3. Recorded 1968-06-04. First broadcast: 09 June 1968. Repeated: 07 July 1968, 03 August 1969.

  • End Of The Road / Blueberry Blue / On With The Show / The Morning Sunshine (& Follow Me Lucky Man)

4. Recorded 1968-09-03. First broadcast 22 September 1968.

  • Follow Me Follow / The Birthday / Told You Twice / Pie In The Sky
John Peel plays.

John Peel plays.. Idle Race (4 Session Tracks) (1969 Jeff Lynne)

5. Recorded 1969-01-20. First broadcast: 26 January 1969. Repeated: 09 March 1969.

  • Mr Crowd And Sir Norman / Days Of Broken Arrows / Sea Of Dreams / Worn Red Carpet (& Frantic Desolation)

6. Recorded 1969-06-23. First broadcast: 29 June 1969. Repeated: 03 August 1969.

  • Sea of Dreams / Please No More Sad Songs / Someone Knocking / Reminds Me Of You (& Come With Me)

Other Shows Played


See Also

External Links

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