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John Peel’s Festive 50 is dead – long live the Festive 50!

Pete Gates - Monday 08.12.08, 17:40pm

The festive 50 is dead … long live the festive 50!

Now I do still remember those nights with fingers paused over the cassette deck, with the tuner tuned to the dulcet tones of John Peel in the lead up to Xmas, clicking the record button on as he perambulated through his Festive 50.

We were all safe, of course, in the knowledge that each year about 25 of John Peel’s Festive 50 would include the hallmark of Mr Mark E Smith and The Fall!

But come early January, I would be able to profusely debate the highs and lows of the years sonic adventures and their placings on Mr Peel’s chart; and with the additional bonus of getting to hear some of the unexpected and come to love them too. Of course we no longer have that pleasure and somehow, those other DJ’s don’t quite have …the knack.

So, where does the ear of the music lover go to be able to argue the toss with some other fools opinion over the best of the year?

The NME Top 50? I think not.

I’m too old and I know that the Last Shadow Puppets will be there at number 1 with Crystal Castles not far behind.  You can’t go for the dance rags… , well lets face it, there isn’t enough good dance music to fill a top 10 at the moment (honestly – do you think so? send us the proof).

The Mojo Top 50?

The Mojo top 50 will have the Last Shadow Puppets at number 1 again.  And although I’m too old for the NME , I’m not THAT old that I’d want to put a Joni Mitchell reissue in the top 10.
For me, this leaves only one source for annual music quarrelling– the Rough Trade Top 50 albums of the year.

Oh I know the top 10 will be infested with neurotic white men – but have you heard the Bon Iver ‘For Emma’? It’s a heartbreaker and can we argue with Fleet foxes at number 2?

I defy anyone to dislike the Vampire Weekend album ( well, apart from my 10 year old headbanger of a son – but then he loves My Chemical Romance!)

We also have the El Guincho and Benga albums crashing the top 10, both an absolute treat and radically different to the usual guitar led business…things get yet more interesting later in the 50, with Earth and Dengue Fever popping up.

My big surprises? What on earth are Foals doing in the last 10? Surely they managed to be a significant part of the move away from the usual English guitar sound, heralding in the opportunity to play with sound and structure a little more; and of course, everyone loves the MGMT album but don’t want everyone else  to know.

I’d also be wanting some inclusions – Kills ‘Midnight Boom’, surely the best post pub hip wriggler to slam on; No Age ‘Nouns’? No Deerhunter ‘Microcastles’?

The Rough Trade 50 best albums of 2008 list acts as a point of argument, a prompt to albums you’ve forgotten came out, a chance to reconsider your previous ill founded opinion and your chance to discover musical pastures new….now, where’s my download of the Earth album?  Anything called  ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lions Skull’ has just got to be worth a listen or two……

Here’s my Top 10 Best Albums of the Year 2008

Bon Iver ‘For Emma’
Foals ‘Antidotes’
Flying Lotus ‘Los Angeles’
The Kills ‘Midnight Boom’
El Benga ‘Diary of an Afro Warrior’
White Denim ’ Workout Holiday’
Matthew Dear ’Body Language Mix 7’
Gang Gang Dance ‘ Saint Dymphna’
No Age ‘Nouns’
Vampire Weekend ‘S/T’
That’s my best albums of 2008.  What’s yours?

Rough Trade Albums of the Year 2008

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Comments (2)

Tags: Album · Best Albums of 2008 · Music Awards · Review


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2 comments so far

  • 1 Serendipity // Dec 14, 2008 at 12:33 am

    I’m not big on lists. And I know that John Peel would often tire of the festive fifty. Lista by their very nature are flawed. To each their own is my motto!

  • 2 Highway Five // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Hi

    I like the blog and your top ten is cool. I still haven’t managed to finish posting mine yet! For Emma is number two in mine.

    I used to love the festive 50 each year. I can remember using the tapes and listening to them for months afterwards.

    I have created a spotify playlist for the 1988 John Peel Festive 50 and thought I would share it with you.

    John Peel Festive 50 1988 spotify playlist

    come and have a listen and let me know what you think

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