This article is about the blog focused on the John Peel Festive Fifty. For the song by The Undertones, see Teenage Kicks.
A Wiki member and British expatriate living in South Korea, So.It.Goes.2512 (first name Steve) began writing Teenage Kicks on Friday May 4 2007 with an article about John Peel's signature tune, 'Pickin' The Blues' by Grinderswitch. He was inspired by another blogger known as London Lee who had recently ended another blog writing about soul music and had begun Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop. Steve was fascinated by what was then a new concept for him: illustrating a personal interest with mp3 files which served as an overview of the subject. On that date, he wrote:
It all goes back to an article I saw in Record Mirror, back in 1979. I was living in Chichester, and had moved from playing nothing but Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin to the Clash and the Sex Pistols. The article published Peel's Festive 50s from 1976 and 1978 to show how much music had changed in the intervening years. There was music I had never heard of: Magazine? The Fall?? Very quickly, obtaining all the tracks became something of a treasure hunt for me. Now, nearly 30 years on, my dream is near completion. Peel himself has, sadly, passed on: but this annual list has become some kind of urban folklore. My journey, exploring the tracks one (or two) at a time, will, I hope, map out the lay of the land for us.
Currently running at over 200 posts, the blog intends to continue until all tracks from the Festive 50 have been posted. A recent innovation has been the inclusion of Peel sessions by the artists concerned, since this material is by and large commercially unavailable, and in many cases features on the chart.
Several posts have attempted to cover more ground than the one or two track formula. May 16 2008 contained all of the Jam's FF entries and Peel session versions of the better-known ones. The post 'Painted Portraits Of Minions And Slaves' borrowed a line from Pavement's Here for the title and went one further by posting the band's first three sessions in their entirety. The blog titles are either taken directly from lyrics or are puns on the subject matter: at least one reader was confused by a piece about ..And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead being headed by the title Dark Star, assuming it was about the Grateful Dead song of the same name (this was intended as an April Fool's joke). Steve consequently posted the latter band the next day under the title ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. February 18 2008 saw a rare and direct attack on an article from the Daily Telegraph written by Michael Henderson, which lambasted Peel and saw him as nothing more than an overgrown teenager who 'jumped on any bandwagon that happened to be passing'. This post drew an unprecendented number of comments, nearly all overwhelmingly opposed to Henderson's attitude.
It was later followed by a similar criticism of an article by Julie Burchill, and attracted a comparable number of supportive comments.
Every blogger needs to be aware when posting music that it is copyright material to which they do not own the rights. Teenage Kicks has consistently stated that all mp3s are available for two weeks only, and requests for re-posts will not be entertained. Moreover, they are submitted purely as historical examples of the chart's music, and are not intended to be a substitute for purchase of the music. However, the 26 August 2008 post Space Cowboy, which reviewed Van Morrison's Madame George, attracted the attention of an individual or organisation styled The Web Sheriff, who requested that the mp3 be taken down. While his request was complied with, his credentials in making it are questionable. One reader noted,
If people do download without buying the stuff if they like it, then shame on them. As someone who is in the process of setting up a record company, I realise that people may download stuff without paying for it. I do recognise, though, that people who genuinely like it will go and buy it. I would be intrigued to know if Web Sheriff was acting of his own accord or under the instructions of the record company or even Van Morrison himself. If the former, I would suggest that people who leak entire album rips ahead of release or do things that exploit the vulnerable in society might be more important targets. If the latter, then I am appalled.
The 25 October 2008 post The Men Who Sold The World, which included all four of the Beatles tracks featured in the Festive Fifty, was taken down without notice by Google pursuant to a DMCA notice. Which copyright-infringing material was the subject of this notice is unclear. Despite this and a period of uncertainty about the blog's future, Steve has promised to continue writing. The post was subsequently republished with the links removed.
The Best Of The Best Of The Best
Christmas 2007 saw the construction of what was intended to be the blog readers' own appraisal of the Festive 50. Readers were invited to submit their favourite three tracks from the entire Festive 50 pantheon. Although some complained that three tracks out of more than 1400 was insufficient to make a reasoned choice, enough readers complied to make a chart of 80 tracks feasible. The top 10 tunes were:
- 10. This Mortal Coil, Song To The Siren
- 9. Jam, Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
- 8. Undertones, Teenage Kicks
- 7. Robert Wyatt, Shipbuilding
- 6. Asa Chang and Junray, Hana
- 5. New Order, Temptation
- 4. Orb, Loving You
- 3. Roy Harper, When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease
- 2. Only Ones, Another Girl Another Planet
- 1. Joy Division, Atmosphere
2008 Peel Sessions Poll
Peel Day (9 October 2008) saw the launch of a poll to find the readers' favourite Peel sessions of all time. The criteria for selection, following the example of the original Festive Fifties, are:
- Only artists who have recorded at least one Peel session are eligible.
- No concert recordings made for an audience other than John Peel and his listeners will be accepted.
- No sessions for other Radio One programmes can be considered.
The cut-off date for voting was 30 November 2008. The results were published between December 17 2008 and January 17 2009 in blocks of 10 tracks per podcast: each track is intended as a representation of the whole session.
- Podcast 1: Numbers 50-41
- Podcast 2: Numbers 40-31
- Podcast 3: Numbers 30-21
- Podcast 4: Numbers 20-11
- Podcast 5: Numbers 10-01
The top session was the Fall's 6th. A few posts have since detailed the 'bottom 50' (those which came in at numbers 100-51).
Teenage Kicks (now on Wordpress)