The times they are a’ changing. The Sex Pistols no longer being number one and a spate of Joy Division hero worship mark out this all-time chart, which was to change forever the following year into a ‘three favourite tracks of the year’ epic that would continue to Peel’s death (and beyond: Radio One continued the Festive Fifty tradition for one year before Dandelion Radio took up the reins). Notwithstanding the continuation of the punk legacy, it was clear that the old guard had disappeared for good: not one track prior to 1976 remained in the chart, and, as John tells us, one session track nearly made the grade in the form of Altered Images’ Song Sung Blue, the Neil Diamond track covered in their third session (which I posted earlier this year).
However, it was a further two years before any session tracks invaded the vinyl battlefield, and at this stage, it seems clear that JP was getting rather tired of playing the same records every Christmas. The highest-placed new entry was New Order’s Ceremony at number 4, and they would continue to rack up entries right into the new millenium. As with the All-Time FF of 2000 and last year’s Best Of The Best Of The Best, however, the top spot would go to Joy Division’s Atmosphere (by a very narrow margin, it would seem).
Nearly all of this chart is available in various locations, and I have helpfully brought them all together here. Note that these are only the chart rundowns, not the full shows, and 28 December 1981 (with numbers 30-21) is still missing. If anyone has this, please get in touch and I will offer you the world and all that’s in it (well, a public thank you here anyway).
Full details and links to the individual pages, all prepared by my own fair hand, can be seen at the John Peel Wiki.
Elsewhere, T******r started the year as she meant to go on, by sacking Norman St. John Stevas in a cabinet reshuffle and getting her mate Cecil Parkinson in as the leader of the party in September. Ronald Reagan became the 44th President, thereby ending the Iran hostage crisis, survived an assassination attempt in March (prompting his remark to his wife, Nancy, ‘Honey, I forgot to duck’: shame Hinckley was in the wrong country), and took a leaf out of Maggie’s book by firing over 11.000 striking air traffic controllers in August for refusing to return to work. He wasn’t the only world figure to survive an assassination attempt: Pope John Paul II was nearly killed in May by a Turkish gunman.
At the end of July, we all crowded round the box to see Charles and Diana getting married: the first reported cases of AIDS surfaced in Los Angeles: and martial law was declared in Poland in December to prevent the Solidarity union dismantling Communist rule. The poor bastards had to wait another eight years to attain anything resembling freedom.
The biggest hit of the year was Soft Cell’s Tainted Love: at the time, I was at Uni, and the busman’s disco downstairs in Oxford’s Cowley Road garage blared this out repeatedly during their Saturday night discos. We won the Eurovision Song Contest with Bucks Fizz’s Making Your Mind Up: since John was a bit of a fan of the contest, he would have approved, I’m sure, of this: