Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Olivetti Chronicles

Eagle-eyed readers of this blog will have noticed the little LibraryThing widget about halfway down the column on the right seems to have been stuck, displaying the pensive visage of the legendary John Peel without fail for the last three months as numerous other book covers have come and gone. However, the problem has nothing to do with the irreproachable LibraryThing or even with my lax updating of the data which it requires to accurately provide this essential part of the Geography of Hope experience. No, it has all been down to the fact that I couldn't bear to finish this cobbled together, blatant (dare I say it) cash-in which is all that remains of John's wit and wisdom.

Like listening to John's radio show (which I have to confess I never did as often as I would have liked to pretend I did) you never know what is going to be up next. But it has been wonderfully comforting picking up this collection of articles and hearing in my head that gruff but reassuring accent musing on subjects as varied as Eurovision, Extreme Noise Terror, The Fall (not nearly as much as you would expect), football (lots of football), Cliff Richard, vaginal deodorants and Top of the Pops. Written for a diverse range of publications from Sounds to The Radio Times over a period of about thirty three (and a third) years it is actually the perfect memento of a singular and remarkable man whose love of new music rubbed off on a couple of generations of music fans.
The greatest pleasure in pop music derives, I believe, from the manner in which its very nature resists scholarship ... Pop is a car-boot sale, a parade of trinkets, junk and handicrafts, most worthless, some capable of giving a few moments of pleasure, with a few glorious items made more glorious by their unexpected appearance in this market. Then in an unpredictable double-bluff, the worthless can, within a few years, take on great worth and the glorious become merely laughable.

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