‘In 1977/I hope to go to heaven/Been too long on the dole/Now I can’t work at all/Danger, stranger/You better paint your face/No Elvis Beatles or the Rolling Stones’. [Clash, 1977-B side of White Riot]
An inflammatory single indeed, yet one that perfectly captured the spirit of the times. I am working in conjunction with the great Fades In Slowly on this one: if you don’t have it permanently bookmarked, you should thrash yourself with twigs, or as the great man JP suggested, chastise yourself with scorpions. This mini-project is an attempt to post all available recordings of John’s Festive Fifties from now to Christmas (glad you like the new layout, Dick). We’ve given up on the 1976 chart, as no tapes of that historic chart have yet surfaced. so let’s start with the following year, which logically is 1977.
Regular readers of mine will recall my astonishment last year at the fact that such a chart surfaced at all, as it was long thought to be the one year John didn’t host it. Well, Ken Garner and now a host of others from my second home, the Yahoo Peel Newsgroup, have shown that there was a chart, a Festive 61. chosen by JP himself. Before you get excited, only a large proportion of the final show and one brief excerpt of the bottom end have so far come to light. The history of this can be seen here, the longest portion of the 27 December show is here, and that errant scamp featuring no. 51 can be located here.
This was one of two occasions when Peel indulged himself: the other was in 1991, when, somewhat pissed off at the lack of votes coming in, he abandoned the chart mid-flight and just broadcast his favoruite sesssions and records of the year (later relenting enough to allow a listener to compile that out of the available entries and broadcasting the lot one track at a time two years later).
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. A look at his chart reveals quite clearly what he had been playing: a lot of punk, a lot of reggae, a little bit of folk, and a smattering of the old masters. He would return to the listener-based format the following year: a full track listing is, and has for a long time, been available from the sidebar for all shows, so I won’t duplicate the info here.
What were you up to in that year. then? No doubt going to see Star Wars, that wonderful slab of re-invented Flash Gordon. Or thrilling at a peanut farmer becoming President and trying to get cannabis legalised (before Reagan undid all his good work). It was certainly a year for the crimial fraternity to make the headlines: Gary Gilmore’s execution, James Earl Ray’s escape and capture, and the Son Of Sam’s reign of terror finally coming to an end. Albums of the year: Bowie’s Heroes, Talking Heads’ debut, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, and that ‘small balls’ effort by a little-known UK punk band. One of the TV greats was Jesus Of Nazareth:
Regrettably, the best-selling single of the year was David Soul’s Don’t Give Up On Us Baby, and the UK Christmas Number One was Wings’ Mull Of Kintyre. And the top of the tree in the Festive Fifty was this: