Get all the members of John’s favourite band (before the Fall came along), some Top Gear regulars and his girfriend at the time into Studio 4 in Maida Vale, add avant-garde/New Age specialist David Bedford in on keyboards, and what have you got? This little gem here today, that’s what: the Top Gear Carol Concert first broadcast on Boxing Day 1970, repeated a couple of times since, and recently exhumed for Marc Riley’s show on BBC6 Music. Not being within reach of a UK FM transmitter any more, and due to the BBC’s sad and dismal Internet policy of broadcasting shows at a low bitrate (even though I can get my mum’s local radio station in Dorset crystal clear), I must give fulsome thanks to Martin of the Peel Mailing List (yet again) for providing these tracks. Riley did not broadcast the final carol, ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, but the remainder come out as shining bright and optimistically festive as the day they were minted.
First is ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, done in a kind of pub singalong style; then what Robert Wyatt said he remembered happening as if in a dream, Rod Stewart solo and respectfully crooning ‘Away In A Manger'; Robert Wyatt and Ronnie Lane adding solo lines to ‘Good King Wenceslas'; and Sonja Kristina, the chanteuse of Curved Air, creating an enchanting ‘Silent Night’ that encourages the others to hum along in awe. There were other carol concert singalongs in Peel’s canon, but this one must be one of the most fondly remembered. For more details, hop over to the Wiki page I created for this.
Carol Concert, Peel Session