John Peel’s Record Collection: ‘C’ Reviewed By Everett True

Following the noble feat of endurance of David Stubbs in covering the letter "A", Collapseboard editor Everett True sticks his cans on and reviews the "C" bit of John Peel's Record Collection

Check out the Peel Archive at The Space

C’s were always a problem. Not as torturous as some of the letters that came later – bloody ‘sl’ never failed to get me, falling where it did (between ‘sk’ and ‘sm’, in case you’re wondering) – it still served as early warning that my record collection was starting to become way out of control when I found myself starting on the third pile from the wall on the left.

I tried a quick ‘ca’ test with some academics yesterday. Can, Canned Heart, Cabaret Voltaire, The Cars, Camel, Cab Calloway, John Cale … we stopped there, because we could feel our age bearing down on us like a noxious dingo. Slow, and with casual disregard for our feelings. My fellow students scoffed at the notion that Cab – the king of louche lounge – should be included in a John Peel archive. Clearly, they hadn’t encountered John Peel And Sheila: The Pig’s Big 78s – A Beginner’s Guide, that fine collection of old time oddities and yodelling released in 2006. I had, and hadn’t been so disturbed since that vintage collection of children’s favourites showed up on FLAC a few years back.

‘The Laughing Policeman’ is Depp grade creepy, you know.

I jumped at the idea of following David Stubbs’ formidable review of the first 100 records of the John Peel collection – you do call it the John Peel collection, don’t you? – with my own not so-formidable review of the ‘ca’s because… because… well, now I think about it, why because? Did anyone ask that of Hillary, of Hemingway, of Radcliffe (Paula, not Daniel), of Moses? The mountain is there to be climbed. The streams are there to be forded. The depths are there to be plumbed. John Peel’s record collection is there to be catalogued and archived and reviewed because… because… to behave in any other way would be a gross abnegation of the music critic’s craft. A rejection of authority. A denial of status. A rotting of riches.

John Peel built this c upon rock & roll. And who are we to not impregnate the blocks with our own particular scent? It seems like the least we could do.

So, the C’s. Or rather – literally – C.

C – Witch

Ah, I believe C actually stands for the copyright symbol. In which case this listing should read © – Witch. On such pedantry were the finest Peel fans formed. That’d be ©, featuring Helen ‘Culture Club’ Terry, Jah Wobble and Leslie Weiner. (Not Wener. Anyway, her first name was Louise.) Some fine hallucinatory dub spoken word electronic abstractica. Folk called it ‘trip hop’ back then. Back then being 1993.

Roy ‘C’ – Sex And Soul / Something Nice

"What would you do," asks deep Southern soul man Mr ‘C’ (not to be confused with Mr C of The Shamen), "If you found a man in your bed? Would you let him go free or would you shoot him instead?" It’s a fair question, coming from an American. Roy’s soul is smooth, gritty and funky: his gun is cleaned, ready and loaded. That’ll be two out of two winners from the ‘ca’ part of the notoriously eclectic the John Peel Collection, then. Remind me to go on Torrent later.

C Company featuring Terry Nelson – Wake Up America

This record deserves to have an unfurled William Shatner on its cover, his buttocks draped in an American flag. The single, ‘Battle Hymn Of Lt. Calley’ – an account of the court-martial that followed the My Lai massacre – is a spoken word piece over patriotic music. Astonishingly, it sold a million copies in four days. Astonishingly, it only reached Number 37 on Billboard. How many records did get sold in those days, anyway?

C. & K. Vocal – Generation

Progressive rock from the Czech Republic from ’76. I suspect your reaction to that phrase says more about you then the music itself, which is harmless enough: spooky yet demented, histrionic yet hernia-inducing, experimental fun. The two singers – one male, one female – sound very, very serious.

As Peelie used to say, there is no such thing as good music, only good listeners.

C.A. Quintet – Trip Thru Hell

Some folk claim that this trippy, sorcerous slab of late 60s USA psychedelia was a "definite" influence on Pink Floyd’s The Piper At The Gate Of Dawn. Others point out that as Trip Thru Hell was actually released after the Floyd album, and sold less than 1,000 copies, this is somewhat unlikely. Either way, it’s probably not worth the $1,000 plus it would cost you to own the original, despite the proto-Kraftwerk percussion that dominates. There again, maybe it is, "considering the CD version does not faithfully recreate the back side of the LP," according to Rising Storm.

C.B. Radio – Everything You Need To Know To Operate CB Radio

Not a concept album but an audio manual. Where are the smokeys and beavers now, I wonder? Standing by the side of that big 18 in the sky, waiting for directions.

CBS – The Bootleg Party ’78

Extensive research failed to throw up any trace of this august event. However, your intrepid reporter did discover this:

C-Cat Trance – Khamu / Zouave / Play Masenko Combo

One for 23 Skidoo fans. Formed out of the remains of Nottingham trance-punk band Medium Medium (oh do keep up, please!) and boasting the sort of percussive interplay that used to be called ‘ethnic’ (this means you could hear the sticks being wielded), these three albums from the mid-80s show a pleasing Middle Eastern influence and … wait. You really haven’t heard of Medium Medium?

CH3 – Fear Of Life / After The Lights Go Out

To own one album from this power-popping Southern Californian punk band also known as Channel 3 might be understandable, but oh John… two? Really. That’s like possessing 22 versions of The Leighton Buzzards’ ‘Saturday Night (Beneath The Plastic Palm Trees)’ all sung in exactly the same monotonous way. Except 22 versions of The Leighton Buzzards’ ‘Saturday Night (Beneath The Plastic Palm Trees) would be a lot more fun to listen to. Possibly.

No. Now I think about it. No.

C.I.A. – Cru’ In Action

1986 – The year of the hip-hop wars at NME. Over in Los Angeles a trio of no-hopers – K-Dee, Sir Jinx and Ice Cube – start imitating the Beastie Boys and playing parties organised by another local no-hoper Dr Dre. I wonder what became of those foul-mouthed youthful upstarts?

C.J. & Co – Devil’s Gun

"The wider the flares, the badder the funk," as my august colleague David Stubbs once wrote of James ‘Blood’ Ulmer, and the doubtless admirable Admiral Dele Abiodun. No doubt, as Omar Little would say.

C.P.O. – To Hell And Black

What is it with rappers and the 80s and acronyms? OK, so this was 1990 but you take my point. "Give DJ Train the respect he deserves," writes one acolyte on YouTube. There sure were a lot of sucker DJs around in those days. No doubt.

C.U.B.S. – Another Black Friday / Maroi Bwana Oi

Der Plan. Die Toten Hosen. D.A.F. Malaria! Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle. X-Mal Deutschland. C.U.B.S. Oh, to be young and attending German nightclubs (or listening to John Peel) in the early 80s. Despite the title of one of their better-known singles ‘Bone Shake Ska’, C.U.B.S. were anything but.

Cabaret Voltaire – Mix-Up / Live YMCA 27-10-79 / Three Mantras / Voice Of America / Red Mecca / Cabaret Voltaire / Hai! / The Crackdown / Micro-phonies / The Covenant, The Sword & The Arm Of The Lord / Code / Groovy Laidback And Nasty

Of course, there were those who believed this most esoteric of Sheffield electronica bands ‘sold out’ after the release of ‘Extended Play’, but clearly John Peel was not among them. If you were to pick three albums you might pick three different albums to me, but you’re not me and I’m not you, least not the last time I looked, and so I nominate Three Mantras, Voice Of America and Red Mecca as the choice picks from this heady brew of funk, electronica, deep house and Sheffield soul.

Trainspotter note 1: Three Mantras isn’t actually an album.

Trainspotter note 2: Cabaret Voltaire is also a 1916 painting by Marcel Janco.

Cabbage Boy – Genetically Modified

The alter-ego of experimental Leicester electronic dance DJ, Si Begg.

Si has also recorded as Bigfoot Futures Lt, Buckfunk 3000, Culture Cruncher, Dr. Nowhere versus The Maverick DJ, Lenny "The Stylus" Logan, Zygmunt Janowski and S. I. Futures.

Back in the day, this was known as noodling.

Cable – Down-Lift The Up-Trodden’

Some great shouty music from the mid-90s to shout along to. Nowhere near as disappointing as Doo Rag.

Cabo Frio – Just Having Fun

That title is no excuse. Back in the 80s, every elevator was playing this jazz-funk MUZAK.

Jorge Cabrera – Charanga Vallenata

Operatic oompah music from Cuba. Worth a listen for the comedy ‘tache alone.

Mav Cacharel et le Groupe Kebo – Mav Cacharel et le Groupe Kebo

Late 80s soukous. Yeah. Me neither.

Mav Cacharel – Mav Cacharel

(It’s Congo rumba.)

Cactus – Cactus / Restrictions /’Ot an’ Sweaty / Son Of Cactus

An American hard rock supergroup, apparently. Formed by members of Vanilla Fudge, the Jeff Beck Group, the Amboy Dukes and Mitch Ryder’s Detroit Wheels in 1970. Apparently. Rock, like rock used to rock, if you catch my drift. Precisely the sort of rock music that stopped me listening to rock music before 1978, actually.

Trainspotter Note 3: Son Of Cactus was released by The New Cactus Band, and featured none of the original Cactus members… I can’t believe I’m typing these words.

Cactus World News – Urban Beaches

Indie rock band formed in Dublin in 1984. At one point, Cactus World News could have been U2. But U2 were already U2 – which was good news for them, and bad news for the rest of us with any taste.

Cadaver – Hallucinating Anxiety

Wot, no Cannibal Corpse? Some of that legendary grindcore death metal that made the early 90s John Peel shows so legendary. From the Midlands, almost certainly.

Bill Caddick – Rough Music

English songwriter, founder of ‘legendary’ folk-rock band The Home Service, much beloved by Christy Moore and June Tabor. The fact I had to look up the correct spelling of Christy probably indicates my feelings here. It’s a thin line that separates The Home Service from The Postal Service.

Cadets/Jacks – The Cadets Meet The Jacks

OK. So I’m figuring that you’re a big fan of The Cadets’ Stranded In The Jungle’, same way you’re a big fan of ‘The Crusher’ by The Novas and ‘Surfin’ Bird’ by The Trashmen. So I’m figuring that you’re already familiar with The Cadets’ 50s oeuvre (sadly, it’s their best song, by some distance)… and The Jacks?

Here’s a clue: they’re the same vocal group.

Cadettes De Linares – El Hijo Del Palenque

Wikipedia: the first refuge of the scoundrel. And I quote:

"Los Cadetes de Linares are famously known for their corridos, ballad-style songs about famous drug cartel criminals or heroes in the rural frontier of the US-Mexico border. They are a conjunto – also known as a norteño group—and their accordion and bajo sexto waltzes are well known in both Mexico and the Southwest."

That’s me told, then.

The Cadillacs – Twisting

Altogether now, "Bom-bom-bom-bom (ba-ba-do-do-do)/Bom-bom-bom-bom (ba-ba-do-do-do)/Bom-bom-bom-bom (ba-ba-do-do-do)/Bom-bom-bom-bom (ba-ba-do-do-do)." Later to inspire perhaps the finest live band of the punk era, Darts.

Cado Belle – Cado Belle

There sure is a lot of blue-eyed soul in the John Peel collection. This album came out on the very cusp of the moment when soul turned into disco (1976), and hence – unfortunately for these sleek, smooth Scottish soulsters – was probably at least 10 years either ahead, or behind, of its times.

Susan Cadogan – Susan Cadogan

Ignominy piled upon ignominy. ‘Hurt So Good’, Susan Cadogan’s beautiful slice of lover’s rock, hit Number 4 in 1975 but is probably better known for sour-faced Jimmy Somerville’s version. This whole album is a delight, the way Psychedelic Furs name-checked Althea & Donna in a song is a delight.

Cafe Creme – Discomania

The Jive Bunny of disco cover The Beatles’ back catalogue in a mix that predates Stars On 45 by a good few years and still induces nervous tics in anyone who heard it first time round. More horrible than Leonard Nimoy singing ‘The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins’.

Cafe Jacques – Round The Back

Ah, Canterbury rock – Camel, Caravan, Steely Dan. You might be more familiar with this sort of pastoral music via the vocal styling of Robert Wyatt. Peelie was a big fan of this sort of music.

Cafe Society – Cafe Society

Not to be confused with the South African disco synth band of the same name. This particular Cafe Society released their debut album in 1973, which sold 600 copies. It was, however, notable for two reasons: one, it sounded like The Kinks (it was produced by Ray Davies). Two, it featured Tom ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’ Robinson on vocals.

John Cage / Lukas Foss – Concerto for Prepared Piano & Orchestra / Baroque Variations

Does what it says on the tin.

John Cage – Nova Musicha N.1: John Cage

I know it’s wrong, but I’ve always confused John Cage with John Cale, and furthermore I’ve always confused John Cale with J. J. Cale. (I have a similar problem with Anni Rossi and Anna Calvi.) All august personages, much revered by their followers, and with uncannily similar names. Imagine my shock when I picked up a copy of this wildly experimental piece several years back, expecting some sweet violin-led post-Velvets drone…

Jeffrey Cain – Whispering Thunder

Hippie soul. It didn’t sound like such a great idea then, and it doesn’t now. Pleasant enough but unless you actually knew the fellow personally – and it seems not many did – there doesn’t seem any reason to listen in.

Cajun Moon – Cajun Moon

Fifty-six records in, and I nearly had to admit defeat, but no: this computer is indefatigable and its search engines never sleep and, sure enough, it transpires that Cajun Moon is a 1976 album from Allan Taylor, bearing a distinct Celtic influence. Marvellous. I’m not sure about the album cover – a foxy lady wearing a low-cut top, standing welcoming underneath, yes, a neon sign and a Cajun moon.

The Cake – Cake

Further proof, if any were needed, that the history of rock would be entirely different if it hadn’t been written along such fixedly patriarchal lines. The two Cake albums from ’67 and ’68 are truly wonderful flights of fancy: baroque psychedelic pop with girl group overtones and intricate, madrigal-style harmonies that never cloyed. In any sort of reasonably gender-balanced overview, they’d be held up as pinnacles of 60s pop perfection to rank alongside The Kinks and The Shangri-La’s. The fact they’re not is both absurd and embarrassing.

Watch the video below. Go on. I know what you’re thinking. Why isn’t that girl dancing?

The CakeKitchen – Time Flowing Backwards

Some of that fine late 80s psychedelic guitar pop from New Zealand that New Zealand (in particular, Dunedin) used to do so well. Graeme Jefferies is the man responsible, and this album showed the U.K. shoegazers how to do it a good four years ahead of schedule.

Shame that none of them listened.

Les Calamités – A Bride Abattue

Now we’re talking heartland Everett True territory: an obscure four-piece French indiepop band from the 80s whose albums I searched record shops high and low for. (The original tip came from David Keegan of Scottish heartthrobs, Shop Assistants.) On the continent, however, it seems Les Calamités were the French Go-Go’s, if the clips below are an indication:

Calamity Jane – Martha Jane Cannary

The one that got away. From Portland OR: this three-piece band got caught between what Thurston Moore called ‘foxcore’ (Babes In Toyland, Lunachicks, L7) and nascent Riot Grrrl. When they supported Nirvana in front of a 50,000 crowd in Buenos Aires, they got pelted with rocks and mud, and split soon after. A damn shame.

Jorge Calderon – City Music

Warren Zevon collaborator strikes out on his own with the finger-picking boogie of City Music (1975). Please don’t make me ever listen to this again.

J. J. Cale – Naturally / Really / For Radio Use Only / Troubadour

See entry on John Cage above. I’ve never really seen the point of disabusing myself of my woolly notion that laidback bluesman J. J. Cale is actually John Cale in disguise – or somewhere in the vicinity.

John Cale – The Academy In Peril / Paris 1919 / Fear / Slow Dazzle / Helen Of Troy / Guts / Honi Soit / Music For A New Society / Caribbean Sunset

A sign of my age I’m sure, but I’d far rather listen to the folk John Cale has influenced than John Cale himself. Or do I mean Cage?

Calexico – The Black Light / Feast Of Wire

Take two musicians away from the excellent Giant Sand, and what are you left with? Howe Gelb. Music that dates back to a time when men were men, tumbleweeds were tumbleweeds and I didn’t find myself trying to make up half-funny metaphors in an attempt to finish a sentence I should never have started.

Round about ’98, I arbitrarily decided I wasn’t going to like this band. Ten seconds ago, I arbitrarily decided I love their mariachi-toting asses. Plus ca change.

Califone – Heroin King Blues

So, Califone. We meet again.

Randy California – Kapt. Kopter & the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds

The three dudes on the sleeve to this album look like they’re auditioning for bit parts in Almost Famous. Their jam music is horrible yet harmless, like children’s toothpaste.

Calla – Calla

Not to be confused with Her Name Is Calla. No disrespect to the doubtless very intriguing and mesmeric indie rock band from North Texas.

Joe Callicott – Deal Gone Down

To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never encountered the music of ‘Mississippi’ Joe Callicott (to give him his full name) before, but I’m willing to place a small wager round about the size of that possum crawling over my roof right now that he sings the blues. No doubt.

Callinann-Flynn – Freedom’s Lament

An Irish duo. An album that was only pressed in very small quantities. Rebel music masquerading as psych folk. Sounds like pure Peel to me.

Cab Calloway – The King Of Hi-De-Ho / Minnie The Moocher / Jazz Off The Air 4

Cab Calloway. He was the Hi De Ho man. You’ll find no arguments here. This man ruled. If he’d only released one song, or performed for one year, or one decade – instead of what, like a hundred years? – he’d be the new Kurt Cobain. Straight up.

Robert Calvert – Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters / Lucky Leif & The Longships

Two satirical concept albums from the former frontman of 70s psych band Hawkwind, Bob Calvert. I’d been searching for the title of the first since I last heard it, played by my brother in 1974. (I erroneously had it down as Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen, but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of cod.) And now I know! Now I can finally listen to it again. Oh boy!

Thank you, the John Peel archive. Thank you.

Calvin, Don’t Jump! – Crystal Clear Mississippi

In this part of my world we call this music ‘Smog’. Let’s not argue over semantics. This music makes a convincing case for the continued existence of Canada.

Calypso King & The Soul Investigators – Soul Strike!

Many is the entertaining late night argument I’ve had over funk music, especially if any Detroit musicians are in the vicinity. It always comes down to this one question: is it possible to be too funky? I would argue, yes. My Detroit friends would argue no, forcefully. Calypso King’s view? I think we know where he stands, in his wide-brimmed flares.

Camberwell Now – The Ghost Trade

Camberwell Now, Camberwell Now! I knew I knewIknewIknewIknew I knew them. A This Heat spin-off band, formed in south London when This Heat disbanded in ’82. But how to describe the complex dissonant beauty of This Heat?

Wikipedia makes a pretty good stab at it (oh, I’m such a scoundrel): This Heat were active in the ascendancy of British progressive rock and punk rock, but stood apart from those scenes due to a radically inventive approach that touched on numerous different styles and genres, but was always confrontational and politically charged.

It was This Heat I was watching – in support to The Slits – arguing with some skins in front to shut up, when one of the skins turned round and stabbed the guy next to me. Whatever. Camberwell Now were equally as rad (and basically the same band).

Cambodia – Cambodge Musique Instrumentale / Musiques & Traditions Du Monde

"Cambodian folklore", according to the rare vinyl website I’m looking at. Or, as the Peel archive more succinctly puts it, "more folksy bits".

Cambridge Buskers – Double Concerto

There’s a connection with The Innes Book Of Records. More than that I cannot – or will not – say.

Camel – Camel / The Snow Goose / Moonmadness / Rain Dances

I never understood why a band would want to name themselves after a cigarette brand.

Cameo – Cardiac Arrest / We All Know Who We Are

So can funk music be too funky? You decide. Me, I’m off to wallow in some crucial Camberwell Now. It’s been way too long…

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