It’s a funny thing, you know. All these years that I’ve been doing this tiny outpost of civilisation, celebrating a supreme achievement of a man who is no more, and the simplest idea has either never appealed to me or has been continually postponed. For those of you who saw Adam’s continual urging to write a book around this blog, I have to tell you that any thunder I might have had has now been well and truly stolen in no uncertain fashion by a new friend, Lee Thacker from Birmingham. He is on the verge of publishing The Festive Fifty Number Ones, a book dedicated to…well…the Festve Fifty Number Ones, as well as the second All-Time chart.
Now, the amount of shelfspace dedicated to books on this subject (or indeed to Peel himself) has always been decidedly limited: there’s Peel’s autobigraphy/biography, Margarve Of The Marshes; a collection of his magazine and newspaper columns, The Olivetti Chronicles; a splendid examination of the FF charts by Mark Whitby, The Festive Fifty, which only omits a detailed synopsis of the 1977 chart, as the information regarding that only came to light during the life of this blog; and last but definitely not least, Ken Garner’s The Peel Sessions, an essential guide which has driven nearly all of the fact-finding
about Peel since its publication. (Notice that I omit Ken’s earlier tome In Session Tonight due to it long being out of print, and Mick Wall’s ‘biography’, which has had such a bad press that I have never been the least bit interested in investigating it.)
And now we have Lee’s newcomer to the pack, but one which is, as I say, something I should have written, but which takes a novel twist on the subject presentation-wise, and whose calling card is something I could never have done. He includes drawings of artists associated with the chart (several of which he has sent me and that you can see here), and astonishingly well done they are too. Moreover, he splits the book into A and B sides, just like our dear old vinyl seven inches.
Side A uses his personal recollections to illuminate the songs and how they fitted into his life, and Side B concentrates on the All-Time chart of 2000 (or, if you like, the chart voted for and planned in 1999 but which he only found time to broadcast in the first month of the new millenium). With contributions from several luminaries in Peel’s world and an introduction from no less a FF student than David Gedge, this promises to be an absorbing read.
Lee has kept a blog with many illustrations called Festive Fifty Illustrated
which I urge you to visit for an insight into the investigation of this excellent project, and the book can be pre-ordered from e-bay for £10 plus £1.50 p&p (not exactly a king’s ransom these days). It is due for publication on August 30th, appropriately. I take my hat off to you, Lee, and wish you every success with the venture.
Right, now that i’ve sorted out your birthday and Christmas presents for this year, I’ll get back to finding some more music for you to listen to and some more drivel from me for you to read. See you all soon.