Tag Archives: John Peel


Radio Tymes sleeveCHRISTMAS is just around the corner, and if you are stuck for a gift to buy – and the intended recipient enjoys rare pop gems from the golden era of British music – then the latest release from Top Sounds is highly recommended.

Following on from three previous “excavations” of 1960s and early ’70s BBC radio session performances with the Shapes And Sounds anthologies, specialist label Top Sounds has released its most ambitious collection of previously lost or hard-to-find tracks yet with Radio Tymes.

Nigel Lees has once again searched high and low to source missing gems from private collections and BBC transcription discs, delivering a treasure trove of very rare and desirable recordings from the likes of Deep Purple, The Move, The Yardbirds and none other than The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The compilation gets off to an impressive start with a highly charged rendition of “The Painter” by Deep Purple, taped for Chris Grant’s Tasty Pop Sundae in July 1969 and then lost in the ether for more than 40 years. It is notable for a great performance by lead singer Rod Evans and is well worth a listen. The other Purple track on the album, first single “Hush”, is even more impressive, and historic, coming from the only known recording of the rock band’s very first British radio appearance – aired on John Peel’s Top Gear on June 30, 1968.

While Radio Tymes captures Deep Purple right at the beginning of their career, it presents pioneering guitar band The Yardbirds at the close of theirs with three shining recordings from the legendary group’s final BBC session (on Top Gear) in 1968, including arguably the best take of stable cover “Dazed and Confused”. Though an off-air recording of the wiped Top Gear session was previously known to exist, it was lo-fi to say the least. Thankfully, Top Sounds has now managed to uncover a second recording of much better quality.

Other big names to enjoy on the release are The Move – with two tracks featuring Birmingham’s  finest, “Cherry Blossom Clinic” and “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”, from the very first Top Gear, in October 1967 – and, in what could possibly be Top Sounds’ biggest scoop to date, The Jimi Hendrix Experience on Dee Time, performing “Burning of the Midnight Lamp”.

Unheard anywhere since its broadcast in 1967, the live version of Experience’s fourth single Midnight Lamp marked the band’s second and final appearance on Dee Time. As Nigel writes in the comprehensive accompanying booklet to Radio Tymes, hardly any material from the popular sixties BBC chat show – presented by DJ Simon Dee – remains, so this recently unearthed recording is of double importance.

Rounding out the compilation are Top Gear session tracks from important psychedelic band Tomorrow with Keith West, playing their underground anthem “My White Bicycle”, Welsh blues-rock band Love Sculpture with a live version of “Sabre Dance” and two colourful covers, and Barclay James Harvest belting out upbeat rocker “Night”.

As with previous Top Sounds releases, all the music has been professionally restored and the album is accompanied by an attractive booklet packed with photos, illustrations and detailed information.

Radio Tymes is a legitimate collection licensed from the BBC and the relevant record companies, and has been a costly labour of love for Nigel. The only way Top Sounds is going to be able to continue delivering such treats is if music lovers show their support through their wallets so I highly recommend the album, available both on CD (£12.99) and vinyl (£14.99), to you all.

  • To buy a copy or for more information visit the Top Sounds website.

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Missing Top Gear Session Freed From Oblivion

Fans of ’60s English blues rock band Free might have been saddened to learn one of their sessions for a seminal music show was missing from the archives, but it’s all right now thanks to the work of one radio enthusiast.

Rare music collector Andrew Smith has discovered an off-air recording of Free, regarded as one of the definitive bands of the  era, performing on late ’60s BBC Radio 1 show Top Gear, presented by the late John Peel.

As with TV, much of the BBC’s radio output was wiped soon after transmission, but music shows were especially vulnerable due to the copyright issues of ever re-broadcasting material by featured acts.

Thankfully, music lovers made home recordings of broadcasts and this is how the Free session has survived – on a reel-to-reel tape.

The recovered Top Gear session, recorded on 15/7/68 and transmitted six days later on Sunday, July 21st, consists of four songs: ‘Waiting On You’, ‘Walk In My Shadow’, ‘Moonshine’ and ‘Free Me’. ‘Walk in My Shadow’ and ‘Moonshine’ appeared on Free’s debut album, Tons of Sobs, released later that year, in November 1968.

Speaking about how his interest in rare recordings began, Andrew Smith said:

‘I’ve been collecting radio and TV shows for about five years now and it all started when I found the Radio Rewind site and put a request on asking for old Radio 1 shows.

‘I look mostly for BBC Radio shows and have located quite a few BBC shows – mostly old Pick of the Pops from the ’60’s, Top 20 and Top 40 shows, and Radio 1 Roadshows.

‘I have found these tapes in charity shops, car boot sales and my local Household Waste tip,where they sell off items that have been dumped. I recently found two original Pick of the Pops shows from 1962 on reel-to-reel tapes that I bought from the tip.’

Explaining the Top Gear discovery, Andrew said: ‘I found the Free session on a 5 3/4″ reel-to-reel tape that was included in a batch of tapes I’d purchased from an advert on website Gumtree along with an old Akai 4000DS deck (a reel-to-reel tape deck).

‘I only really wanted the Akai deck because I had some tapes I wanted to check the contents of. The person who recorded the tapes did so off-air and just recorded the music from John Peel’s Top Gear shows, cutting most of John’s links out. There is only one intro on the four tracks.

‘The quality of the recordings is not fantastic. Considering they are off-air, Mono and recorded at only 3 3/4 ips (inches per second), you can’t expect brilliant quality.

‘But they are listenable and I am sure they can be tweaked to sound better.’

Andrew has been assisted with his find by Peel authority Ken Garner – author of The Peel Sessions – who identified the recording as featuring a missing BBC session.

Ken is currently sifting through the other recordings recovered by Andrew to see if they contain any more lost gems.

Andrew added that there is a possibility that one of the Free tracks might be released on CD in the future:

‘Ken contacted Universal Music Group (who own the performance copyrights) on my behalf to alert them to the existence of the tracks and they came back to him saying they may be interested in issuing one of the tracks on a Peel Session compilation in the future.

‘I feel quite proud of discovering the material,’ reflected Andrew, ‘even though I wasn’t really looking for it.

‘I am still on the lookout for material, but first and foremost for my own pleasure’.

Wiped would like to thank Ken Garner for his help in researching this story.


Filed under Music, Radio

Tyrannosaurus Rex: Missing Top Gear Session Discovered

A previously missing 1960s BBC session by psychedelic rock/folk band Tyrannosaurus Rex has been discovered.

The session by the group – which would evolve in to legendary glam act T-Rex in the 1970s – was broadcast on March 23rd, 1968 as part of the BBC Radio 1’s influential “progressive” music programme Top Gear, but wiped soon after.

The BBC archives might not have retained a copy but a fan did, making an off-air recording from his radio featuring the whole session, with DJ John Peel’s introduction and performances of ‘Knight’, ‘Debora’, ‘Afghan Woman’ and ‘Frowning Atahuallpa’.

The sound quality of the domestic tape is said to be good on account of the fan plugging his recorder straight in to the radio, as opposed to placing a mike next to the speaker.

Responsible for discovering the recording is Nigel Lees, an expert on psychedelic music and founder of the Top Sounds record label, set up in 2004 with the purpose of conducting a ‘slow but sure archaeological dig into the UK’s lost pop archive’.

He announced his discovery on the Missing Episodes forum here.

Nigel has been responsible for tracking down other lost live performances by 60s bands such as Tomorrow, Kaleidoscope and Killing Floor, either preserved on transcription disks or from off-air recordings.

These previously unreleased gems, performed on shows including Saturday Club and The Dave Cash Programme as well as Top Gear, have been released commercially by Top Sounds (with the full blessing of the BBC) on three CD compilations: ‘Alphabeat‘; ‘Shapes and Sounds‘ and ‘Shapes and Sounds Vol 2‘.

Wiped hopes to bring you a feature on Nigel and the Top Sounds label soon.

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