January 1975 issue, with Peel listed on cover.

Let It Rock was a British magazine published between October 1972 and December 1975. It was one of several publications of the early to mid-1970s (others included Cream and Street Life) which attempted to emulate the success of Rolling Stone and other American music-based magazines such as Fusion and Crawdaddy. These were aimed at the large US college-age readership, were more adult in tone and dealt with a wider range of topics than the British pop weeklies. Let It Rock (named after a Chuck Berry song) attracted many notable rock and pop writers; among the editorial group were Dave Laing, Simon Frith, Charlie Gillett and Michael Gray, all of whom had backgrounds in higher education. Perhaps as a consequence of this, Let It Rock was more analytical than its competitors and tried to establish a historical perspective on pop music. It challenged the critical consensus of the post-Beatles "progressive" era by paying more attention to pop singles, soul, reggae, rock'roll and early 1960s American pop, and also ran articles on non-musical topics such as sport, film and television, reflecting the cultural changes of the 1970s.

Let It Rock never managed to secure a firm financial basis. Sales were disappointing and at one point the magazine was published by a "Rock Writers' Co-Operative". It closed down at the end of 1975, but is seen in retrospect as a predecessor of monthly publications such as Mojo, Q, Word and Uncut, all of which have succeeded in recent decades - albeit with greater corporate support and a less challenging agenda.

Links to Peel

John Peel wrote a number of articles for Let It Rock, although he wasn't one of the magazine's core group of writers. He also wrote a letter expressing his appreciation of the magazine; it was published in the September 1973 issue (see below). As with his columns for Sounds, he reviewed current singles in several 1975 issues of LIR.

In the November 1974 issue he contributed to the magazine's "Top Ten" feature (pp.12-13). He listed his choices with (most of) their catalogue numbers: [1]

The November 1974 issue also contains an article by Dave Amery, "Flowers never bend with the rainfall", on "the decline and fall of Dandelion records" (pp.23-24)

In the January 1975 issue there is a full-page review (p.33) by Peel of the double LP Merseybeat 1962-64 (United Artists UAD 305/6). The review is entitled "The Quality of Mersey", with the sub-heading "An aging scouse DJ reports on the new compilation album that encapsulates 'an era of Shanklyesque energy.'"

Critics Poll Game

In the January 1973 issue, various critics and DJs were asked to nominate their choices in ten categories relating to the previous year. Peel supplied more extended comments than usual, and these are transcribed below.

  • 1: Best Single. "Well, that's really difficult. There have been a lot of singles that have given my lady and I pleasure this year so I reckon I'll stick to records that have been generally overlooked. There's not much point in citing Rod Stewart or the Faces although they're still my favourite group. Things like Her Father Didn't Like Me Anyway by Finbar & Eddie Furey, Starting All Over Again by Mel And Tim, Drunk Again by Rab Noakes and Late Again by Stealers Wheel have made us feel good when we were at a low ebb. The new Status Quo single (Mean Girl) is a nice boogie too. That's already four more than you need."
  • 2. Best Album. "Easier. Again avoiding the obvious hits. Last Of The Red Hot Burritos by the Flying Burrito Brothers-mainly for the astounding steel playing of Al Perkins.
  • 3. Least Offensive Pop Singer. "Tricky. I mean, I reckon James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell-and our Rod too, I suppose-are 'pop singers'. Assume you mean the kind of guy who's going to do Stars On Sunday gigs I'd have to go for Lovelace Watkins. He's really neat in his own way. He's so totally excessive and show-biz that he's like the Liberace or Alice Cooper of straight singing-if you can call it straight. He's a real freak and I even bought a suit so that I could go and see him at the Talk Of The Town. Oh man-how uncool-the gray man's world! Wow!"
  • 4. Worst LP (or single). "Gawd! That's hard. I seldom hear anything that is without redemption. Long Haired Lover From Liverpool by Little Jimmy Osmond comes as close as any."
  • 5. Best album sleeve. "Fumble's LP [2] is pretty good. Never A Dull Moment [3] too."
  • 6. Favourite record of the moment (LP or single). "Still Last Of the Red Hot Burritos."
  • 7. Record company that has done the most for rock this year. "Dandelion-if only other people realized."
  • 8. Best rock writer. "Hunter S. Thompson (if he counts)."
  • 9. Most significant event of the year. "Tie between the re-election of Richard Nixon and the marriage of James Taylor and Carly Simon."
  • 10. 40-50 words to say whatever you like. "Having read the second part of your circular I find that I have done the whole thing quite wrong and I hope you'll forgive me for that. I'm just on my way out to the village pub to discuss this afternoon's football. You've got to get your priorities right, you know."

The January 1974 issue of Let It Rock included another critics' poll, with a slightly different set of categories relating to the music of 1973. Thirty-two rock writers responded, but Peel wasn't among them.

Available Online


Nov: I've been collecting records now for nigh on 24 years. The first record I ever bought - actually saving up my pennies and going alone and unaided into Crane's in Liverpool - was 'Blue Tango' by Ray Martin and his Orchestra on Columbia. Not, it must be confessed, a... (read more)


Feb: Single File ("I may, or may not, be asked to do this again"): A thoughtful browse through the BBC's pre-Yule chart doesn't fill the observer with unbounding hope for the New Year. There's still an awful amount of the sheerest nonsense about. Unlike Simon F. I haven't been able to come to terms with the... (read more)

Apr: Single File: "The Star System" - as well as reviewing records, JP explains the star system he's introduced in his Sounds singles reviews. Due to the modern day marketing miracle that ensures that singles discussed in these colums are being played as 'Reviveds' by Wunnerful Radio 1 by the time you, blessed reader, run your eyes over our remarks, it is best that we... (read more)

Jun: Single File: "Titters'N'Tatters". JP complains about the large number of singles and LPs he has to review, and the poor quality of most of them. He also observes that the pop weeklies' circulation figures are declining. It is 8.30 on a Wednesday morning and m'lady Pig has been out to the car for the morning's mail. Let us open it together and see what, as the psalmist would have had it, "this bright morn hath brought". Firstly, some albums. An Alan Hull, a... (read more)

Oct: Single File "Charting Away". Since our last little fireside chat I have stopped writing weekly singles reviews for Sounds, at least for the time being. The result of this has been that I have been able to potter about the estate, fool with the dogs, watch TV, speak to my... (read more)


Issue 1, October 1972
  • P.46: "Since Radio One's Sounds Of The Seventies shares the Radio 2 FM frequency from ten till midnight each weekday evening, this means that at last we can hear John Peel, Pete Drummond et al in glorious living Technicolour."
Issue 2, November 1972
  • P.11: "Though their only radio recognition so far has come from the benefactor of imaginative bands, John Peel, Stackridge's new single and album should help to change that."
Issue 3, December 1972
  • "Sonic Assassins and SIlver Machines", by Steve Mann - "Let It Rock's elementary Hawkwind primer";.P.27: "But despite the high esteem the lads were accorded by the freak community, on a wider level Hawkwind were losing out badly. Financially, things were desperate: the music press didn't want to know, their only radio outlet was an occasional play on the Peel-Drummond-Harris circuit, and their record company was barely tolerating them."
  • P.66 "Short Cuts, by the Demon Barber". Brief LP reviews; one of the Rolling Stones' "Rock'n'Rolling Stones" album includes a reference to Pop The Question, a quiz feature on Johnnie Walker's radio show; "And while we're on the subject who grades the questions so that "who are John Ravenscroft and Michael Pasternak?" is an 'easy' question and "who recorded 'Sometime In New York?' is a 'very difficult' one?...."
Issue 4, January 1973
  • P.5 (Clifford T Ward interview): "I put some of my things on tape and the first person we agreed to send them to was John Peel. I have a great feeling for Dandelion. I would like to sell records for their sake because as a company I feel they've got a lot to offer."
  • P.41: "The Lion of Caledonia. Van Morrison On Record", by Myles Palmer; "In the same way, perhaps, that John Peel declared Van Morrison is the only person allowed to say 'Lord, have mercy!' on his show."
  • P.48 "5 Lives In Rock", includes interview with Phil May of the Pretty Things: 'The reviews we had in the underground press in America and in some degree England, from people like Peel were amazing."
  • P.56: Extended commentary by JP on categories in the Critics Poll Game (see above).
  • P.70: "Rock Press - The Weeklies". Review of a month's issues of Melody Maker, Disc, NME and Sounds by Jack Pennick. "Disc & Music Echo has a regular column from John Peel."
Issue 5, February 1973
  • P.7: "Leicester - not even halfway to paradise" Article on the city's music scene: "(Gypsy) have trod the weary path as a 2nd Division band and are now poised, with helping hands from John Peel, on the brink of making a real name for themselves."
  • P.62 Simon Frith's Singles File column, this time mostly devoted to a critical discussion of Radio 1's programmies and DJs. On Sounds Of The Seventies: "John Peel's eclecticism (Tuesday and Thursday) transcends the format and I've heard more good singles-soul, reggae, pop, country-on his shows than anywhere else."
Issue 6, March 1973
  • P.9: Letter from Charlie Gillett commenting on the magazine's Critics Poll Game results: "Another, less direct, mark of respect is measured in the votes for the Burrito Brothers and Mel and Tim, which must reflect the fact that John Peel has plugged both acts heavily."
  • P.49 (Album review): "As most of us probably know by now, thanks to John Peel, Loudon Wainwright III is an embittered folkie with a succulent line in put-down songs, a freaky voice and a moderate ability as a guitarist."
Issue 7, April 1973
  • P.5 "Kevin's strain and pain". Interview with Kevin Coyne, who says of radio DJs:: "...they're obviously such brainless, insensitive men....They're so Mr. Average that it's just not true! I mean, that doesn't apply to John Peel, of course. He's the only guy, to my mind, who plays anything that's remotely interesting."
  • P.47: "Messages from the country. Ian Hoare reports on the Rockfield Studio and Dave Edmunds". "(Love Sculpture's) version of Sabre Dance led John Peel to take the unique step of playing it twice in the same show.They recorded it and it got to No. 2"
Issue 8, May 1973
  • P.55 (from a review by Mick Gold of Derek & The Dominos' "In Concert" album): I remember, as if it were yesterday, sitting in a suburban back garden in the summer of 68 and being flattened by hearing Cream's live recording of Crossroads for the first time, introduced by John Peel with the words, "If any of you thought Eric Clapton was a human being you'd better listen to this." Peel's admiring joke soon became a serious point of view and Eric hasn't had a decent night's sleep since.
Issue 9, June 1973
  • P.9: "Almost Free". Interview with Lol Coxhill, by Mick Gold; "John Peel heard me playing on Hungerford Bridge and asked me to do an album for Dandelion....."
  • P.52: Clifford T. Ward's LP "Home Thoughts" offered free to LIR readers who take out a year's subscription to the magazine: Clifford T. was originally signed by John Peel to his late great Dandelion label.
Issue 10, July 1973
  • P.7: Critical review by Nigel Fountain of benefit concert for IT at Empire Pool, with Hawkwind topping the bill; A voice, reminiscent of J. Peel, makes an announcement......
  • P.23: Full-page ad from Virgin label, promoting new albums by Gong, Faust, Henry Cow, various artists ("Manor Live") - and Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells." Includes Peel's enthusiastic on-air response to the disc (" of the most impressive L.P.'s I have had the chance to play on the radio...")
Issue 11, August 1973
  • P.13: Music Making; The Sound of Distortion. One of a series of articles on music, sound and recording by Gary Herman; ln a very limited sense the selection of records is an art, and the only worthwhile dee-jays are those who neither submit to a formula (for example, the current top forty) nor to random programming (a fault John Peel slips into too easily).....
  • P.27: "Sunny and Warm In L.A.". Four-page article on 1960s "California sunshine rock" by Stephen Barnard. Final sentence; Ted Templeman now produces Van Morrison, the Doobie Brothers and Captain Beefheart, quite something for the leader of a group (Harpers Bizarre) that was once derisorily labelled by (John Peel) America's answer to Herman's Hermits.
  • P.55: Review by Simon Frith of Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells and Iggy And The Stooges: Raw Power; Some records get so much critical attention that I can’t listen to them blind, can’t ignore other opinions. So, according to John Peel Tubular Bells represents "the first breakthrough into history that any musician regarded primarily as a rock musician has made."
  • P. 60 Review by Dave Laing of LPs by Geordie, Mongrel and Byzantium: And if local radio is going to do anything except provide work for mini John Peels to play you their favourite Little Feat track, then the airwaves of Radio Birmingham should be humming to the sounds of Mongrel...

Issue 12, September 1973

  • P.4.: "Say It Loud" - letters page. First letter is one from "John Peel (The World's Most Boring Man)", in praise of the magazine: Every month I get stacks of music papers and magazines....At the moment you and Zigzag are the only ones I read twice. Happily you seem to be written by loonies for loonies and as a loony of some years standing that's just fine for me.....
  • P.41: "Ready Steady Goes Grey - The Chequered History of Rock on TV". Includes interview with Mike Appleton, producer of the Old Grey Whistle Test": Apart from the stufio size isn't it the pesentation that's a deadener? Bob Harris is a carbon copy, bar more grins, of post-John Peel Richard Williams, who mumbled through the first series....
Issue 15, December 1973
  • P.7: "Say It Loud" - letters page. Reader responds to letter in previous issue critical of Pete Frame; "l'm sure ZigZag readers will agree that, apart from John Peel, no one in Britain has done more for progressive rock freaks than Pete Frame. and I think you might acknowledge the fact."
  • P.58: "Short Cuts, by the Demon Barber". Brief LP reviews. Hot Thumbs O'Reilly (Charisma CAS 1071; "My God, pub-rock from Finland...Sub-Beefheartian meandeirng to the sound of cocktail glasses. The only interesting question is why does J Peel like it?"

Issue 16, January 1974

  • P.38: full-page ad from Decca, promoting their new LP releases, including Thin Lizzy's Vagabonds of the Western World, with a Peel quote; "Thin Lizzy get better every time they step out their front door".
  • P.72. full-page ad from Virgin for Kevin Coyne's LP Marjory Razorblade, with quotes from several music press writers including JP ; "Kevin has one of the best voices in contemprary music, every word he sings contains real emotion...."

Issue 17, February 1974

  • P.8: "We've had a hard time deciding on the winner of our 'Most Unlikely Group' competition...we couldn't resist the line-up sent in by John Savage of Chesterfield which included Lester Bangs (vocals), Charlie Gillett (guitar), Tony Palmer (bottleneck), Hunter S. Thompson (drums), Ralph J. Gleason (stand-up bass), Pete Frame (pedal steel), John Peel (mandolin) with backing vocals from Nick Kent, C.S. Murray and Michael Gray..."
Issue 23, November 1974
  • P.15: "Your Top Ten" - readers' choices (by "Anon, Leigh, Lancs"):10. PIano Rags by Scott Joplin Vol II; Joshua Rifkin. My copy is pretty badly pressed and jars on strong notes. (I was too lazy to return it.) But the music is still beautiful. The style and calmness of Joplin is really fine. As John Peel said of "Elegant Syncopations"; "Elegant, I think". True.
  • P.57: Single File, by Simon Frith; People don't think the column is silly (especially not since other closet singles freaks have come out - Charlie Gillett in NME, John Peel in Sounds, Richard Williams in Melody Maker, if only they'd let him)...

Issue 25, January 1975

  • P.11: "Say It Loud" - readers' letters; How fresh to see a Top Ten (John Peel's) full of "honest to goodness" recollections and not cluttered with inane ramblings...but what is this "sport" section?...If we must have this in a music mag, well, let's have others too. Maybe poetry and classical music - or at least get John Peel to write about a decent team like Liverpool.

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