If there is one band that is synonomous with the Peel sessions then it has to be The “mighty” Fall. As I have mentioned previously this is where MES and the gruppe shine brightest. Whether showcasing new material or much rarer revisiting old stuff for the “look back bores”, the Peel session versions of tracks such as Blindness, Winter, Hip Priest, the list goes on and on became the definitive versions for a lot of fans.
Many, many Fall fans had waited for years for the release of all of these tracks in one package. Many still listened to the stretched and over played but loved cassette copies they had made over the years. However when it happened, although we were still elated with the release it was also tinged with sadness as we all knew that what we had in our hands was the finished product as due to John’s untimely death the previous October there was no possibility of ever hearing again those words which made the heart beat that little bit faster and filled grown men with the expectations of children on Christmas morning, “Tonight a new session from the Fall”.
So when I first sat down to compile this short series the only certainty I had was that the Fall would be #1, the problem would be choosing a single track from the 96 broadcast over the course of an unassailable 24 sessions.
How very wrong I was, as I trailed through all of my Peel sessions I remembered a session that had more of an effect on me than even any of the Fall ones but more of that tomorrow.
Much has been written about Peel’s love of the Fall over the years and he is responsible for many memorable quotes regarding the band. My favourite and the one that hits the nail on the head about why the Fall are what they are to fans is “With the Fall you can never be absolutely certain about what you’re gonna get. Sometimes it may not be what you want, but it’s still, they’re the Fall that’s all you need.”
There is a common misconception that Peel and Smith were the best of friends. There was mutual respect between the two men but if Smith is to be believed they only met on a few occasions and Smith unlike quite a few people who had recorded sessions for the great man didn’t attend the funeral. When asked about it by a journalist he said “the reason I didn’t go to John’s funeral is because I never even knew him. Of course, I’d see him when we went down to record the sessions, say hello, but I never went round to his house for tea, unlike fucking PJ Harvey and all them.” The fact that he didn’t go to the funeral didn’t mean that Smith wasn’t affected by Peel’s death, even though the strange appearance on Newsnight on the night after Peel’s death may point to the contrary. In an interview later he wondered about the arbitrariness of life when he said ” . . . he’s gone (JP) and when you see some of the bastards still walking around. . . . “
Sometime before his death John has been quoted as saying ” If I drop dead tomorrow, I’ll have nothing to complain about – except that there’ll be another Fall album out next year.”
It seems fitting to post the last track(s) from the final Peel Session by the Fall, before which we have the dulcet tones of the man himself introducing the gruppe.
Session 24 recorded 04th August 2004, aired 12th August 2004
Tracklisting: Clasp Hands, Blindness, What About Us?, Wrong Place, Right Time – I Can Hear The Grass Grow
John Peel – The Fall