The Farm (named after the Cantril Farm estate in Merseyside, where singer Peter Hooton worked as a youth worker) was a British band formed in early 1983 and initially comprising of Peter Hooton, Steve Grimes, John Melvin and Andrew John "Andy" McVann, who was killed in a police chase on 1st October 1986 at the age of 21, and to whose parents the band's subsequent album, Spartacus, was dedicated. The band evolved from an earlier group called The Excitements, initially including Phil Stephenson on bass guitar, Neil (Cad) Campbell on drums, Grimes on guitar and Thomas (the band's dancer). They became The Farm after Martin Dunbar (vocals) left and Peter Hooton joined, although they did play several gigs as The Excitements with Hooton on vocals.

The group broke through to achieve mainstream success in the UK in 1990, when they enjoyed two Top Ten hit singles. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

Links To Peel



Singer Peter Hooton co-edited The End, a fanzine which Peel mentioned as his favourite in the early 80's, due to its content of football, beer and music. Peel invited Hooton on the Oxford Road Show to talk about the fanzine and also later became a fan of his band, The Farm, inviting them to do six sessions for his show. In an interview with Sabotage Times, Hooton described how he met Peel: [1]

"I first got to know the late great DJ John Peel through The End magazine in the early 1980’s. I used to send the magazine to him at Broadcasting House when he did his late night show from there. The magazine was usually accompanied by scathing satirical attacks on his show which I complained didn’t reflect the ‘underground’ music scene in Liverpool. I mean how could it when he was commissioning sessions by Xmal Deutschland and Children of the Bong interspersed with cutting edge Ukrainian folk music. When he later got to know me he admitted that he was intrigued by the irreverent tones of mine and other letters from The End staff and then he said he thought to himself that maybe we had a point."

Like Peel, Hooton was a fan of Liverpool Football Club and they would both occasionally meet up to watch home matches at Anfield.

In 1990, The Farm produced two UK top ten singles, Groovy Train (#6) and All Together Now (#3), which made Peel proud (an early session version of the latter song, then titled No Man's Land, had been aired as far back as 1983). After Groovy Train entered the Festive Fifty at number 47 on his 22 December 1990 show, he commented:

"As I've remarked before in the course of these programmes, few things in the year have given me greater pleasure than the success of the Farm, who've made three absolutely classic singles. Even if they never made another one, they could rest on those laurels, I think. They're records that people will still be listening to with pleasure many years from now."

In 1991 the band had a number one album in the UK with 'Spartacus'. Peel played several tracks from it, sometimes airing more than one during a single show. He saw the group play in Cambridge that March on the tour to promote the album [2]. The group were a late addition to the bill at the 1992 Reading Festival. John spoke of his sadness on his programme of 04 September 1992 at their reception:

"I like the Farm and I've known Peter Hooton for years - oh sorry, that's me banging the microphone, waving my arms around in my excitement - known him for years and I like him a lot and I like the other members of the band as well, so I was saddened when people started chucking mud at them, which I suppose they probably did because they'd been, like, a 'chart group' as people perceive it. They saw it as being a kind of 2-2 away draw which is what Liverpool had had the same afternoon against Leeds of course. Nearly beat them, nearly got beaten in a curious way, the last three minutes, absolute chaos. I think the Farm pulled it back from being a goal or two down and it was a 2-2 away draw was how they assessed it at the end and a lot of mud on the stage which I didn't like to see I must admit. I felt sorry for them."

On 25 November 2003, Peel expressed dismay at how he perceived the media had treated the band:

"I have to say, it's one of those things that... my disillusionment with the record industry and the music biz centred around the Farm really, because I first met 'em before they were a band really and they were just lads that went to the match and went for a pint afterwards and occasionally I would do this with them when I was in Liverpool and thought the world of them. The Farm were much lauded by the music press when they first started, because they were just seen as I say as ordinary lads who went to the match and then went for a pint. And then after they started making records and the records were successful they then started slagging them off for being ordinary lads who went to the match and went for a pint afterwards. And I just hated that. I really did. I thought, that's so hypocritical."

After Peel's death in 2004, Peter Hooton organised the John Peel World Cup football tournament, where a mixture of celebrity musicians and members of the public do battle with each other on the pitch to raise money for the British Heart Foundation - a charity chosen by Peel's own family.

Festive Fifty Entries


The Farm Peel Session19:56

The Farm Peel Session

The 1990 session

The Complete Studio Recordings 1983 - 2004 (7 x CD Compilation, Demon Music Group, 2015) belies its title, since the following session tracks have been omitted: 'Information Man' and 'Memories' from #1; 'Sign Of The Cross' and 'Heart Of The Nation' from #3; 'The Moroccan' from #4; 'Very Emotional (Ballad To Ray Toohey)' and 'I Don't Know' from #5; and 'Smile' from #6.

1. Recorded: 1983-04-17. Broadcast: 27 April 1983. Repeated: 17 May 1983, 20 September 1983

  • Information Man / No Man's Land / Memories

2. Recorded: 1984-02-28. Broadcast: 19 March 1984. Repeated: 01 January 1985

  • Hearts And Minds / Too Late / Somewhere / Same Old Story

3. Recorded: 1985-11-26. Broadcast: 09 December 1985. Repeated: 07 January 1986

  • Some People / Sign Of The Cross / Little Ol' Wine Drinking Me / Heart Of The Nation

4. Recorded: 1986-08-10. Broadcast: 20 August 1986. Repeated: 10 September 1986

  • Worn Out Sayings / Power Over Me / Wearing That Smile / The Moroccan

5. Recorded: 1990-05-06. Broadcast: 24 May 1990. Repeated: 17 July 1990, 06 October 1990, 23 December 1990, Peel Festive Period 1990 Part 1

  • Groovy Train / Very Emotional (Ballad To Ray Toohey) / I Don't Know / Family Of Man

6. Recorded: 1991-07-21. Broadcast: 31 August 1991. Repeated: 10 November 1991, 28 December 1991, Best Of 1991 Vol 4

  • Mind / Smile / Love See No Colour / News International

Other Shows Played

The Farm - Stepping Stone (1990)03:51

The Farm - Stepping Stone (1990)

  • 01 December 1990: All Together Now (7") Produce
  • 22 December 1990: Groovy Train (Terry Farley Mix) (12") Produce FF #47 (JP: "As I've remarked before in the course of these programmes, few things in the year have given me greater pleasure than the success of the Farm, who've made three absolutely classic singles. Even if they never made another one, they could rest on those laurels, I think. They're records that people will still be listening to with pleasure many years from now.")
  • 22 December 1990: Stepping Stone (7") Produce FF #46



External Links

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