Plan B Magazine #3
As ever, the download for the PDF is at the bottom of the post.
Here’s the editorial. John Peel dying was a big deal for many of us, especially as it was so unexpected. I was actually surprised at how sad I felt hearing the news. Shortly before we were about to go to print we were contacted by Sean Thomas, wanting to know if we’d like to run an interview he’d done with the DJ a short while before. Vincent Vanoli turned round one of his typically brilliant illustrations in about a day flat to accompany the article. I don’t recall any of us being that happy at Magnetic Fields being the cover stars, but we were all agreed that Sophie’s interview was excellent so it stood. The other alternatives didn’t cut it for one reason or another. Although I fervently wish now that we’d gone with the illustration alternative Andrew mocked up (the reason we didn’t was because the accompanying interview, by me, was considered too slight). We were still referring to the third issue as #0.75 days before sending it to the printers, as I didn’t feel we were yet ready to go properly ‘live’. Thankfully, someone knocked some sense into my head.
I’ll post the alternative covers tomorrow.
Just heard the news about John Peel.
Don’t know what to write. I’m gutted. I saw him on Room 101 a year back, and he was talking about his fear of death. It left a deep impression on me. He was scared. I could so relate. It made me so sad, seeing Peelie like that. I hope he resolved his fear before the end.
I don’t know what to say. It’s undeniable that Peel’s influence and enthusiasm brightened up my own life, and that of thousands of my friends and loved ones. I never envied him, always admired him: felt that just once – just for one time – someone from our side had managed to slip through and infiltrate the mainstream. That he followed his own path was undeniable, that he continued to follow it, uncaring of what those with the power to make his life exceedingly difficult thought, was incredible. And he continued to follow his enthusiasm for music all the way through his life. He was also about the best presenter I think I ever heard on radio: I loved the way he’d um and ah, stumble over words, mumble and play records at the wrong speed, in a medium where glibness and smugness is prized above all.
And he was so funny!
Herein follow half-a-dozen gems that sprung up on the web within 24 hours of his death, showing his dry, understated wit:
“Ah, the sound of distant seagulls” – after hearing Morrissey’s falsetto wailing at the end of ‘What Difference Does It Make?’
“You know, Aretha Franklin can make any old rubbish sound good, and I think she just has” – after watching the video of the Aretha Franklin/George
Michael duet, presenting Top Of The Pops.
“He’s a dickhead in love” – talking about Robert Palmer, same programme.
About Simple Minds: “Well, that was the most exciting video I’ve seen since teatime. Mind you, I did have a late tea.”
About Pete Wylie’s Mighty Wah!: “If that doesn’t make Number One, I shall come and break wind in your kitchen.”
About Josh Wink’s ‘Higher State Of Consciousness’: “I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that sounded better when I played it the other night, at the wrong speed.”
Like all of my generation, Peel was omnipresent when I was a teenager (late Seventies). His radio show was a lifeline for those of us not based in London: the only place one could hear all those records argued over with such passion in the music press each week. There was nowhere else – no Internet, no cable TV and no deregulated radio stations. No record stores, even. Like millions of others, I barely listened to his actual show. I didn’t need to: his taste informed everything around us. Early Eighties, I had a friend who’d make me tapes of Peel Sessions and let me know when a particular band would be on that night – Dolly Mixture, Strawberry Switchblade, Sophisticated Boom Boom. It must have been one of those years while Peelie was going through his punky girl group phase.
I can still remember the sheer disbelief followed by exhilaration upon hearing that John had played a white label of my first single on his show. He didn’t know what to make of it. He played it three times, and compared it to his then cult favourite, …And The Native Hipsters’ ‘Ooh, Look There Goes Concorde Again’. Man, we were excited. It remains one of the most magical moments of my life.
He was always there for us. No matter how crap radio and the press and festivals got during the Nineties and beyond, no matter how corporate and passionless the music industry got, it was so fucking reassuring to know there was someone like Peelie out there for us, holding his corner, never losing
the thrill, forever seeking the new…
He gave us hope – not fake, not forced – in a life where hope is almost the most precious commodity of all.
It feels like some of the goodness and magic has gone out of life, never to return. Peelie didn’t give a shit for passing trends: all he dug was the music, the thrill of the new, one more brain-damaging haemorrhage-inducing blast of speed metal, of Fall B-sides or Marc Bolan or Bogshed or Sarah Records or Aswad or Joy Division or The Wedding Present or The White Stripes or The Slits or Beefheart or Static Caravan or Robert Wyatt or Undertones or Bonzo Dog or PJ Harvey or Girls At Our Best or This Heat or Swell Maps or Babes In Toyland or… I’m crying as I type these words.
We’ll miss you, John.
This is my first editorial, ever, unless you count the mission statement that fronted my short-lived 1994 retro-obsessive fanzine, which went something like, “For the charity shop auteur and the supermarket checkout pop star – the high life is in you!” Bless my vintage-attired mod heart; I meant every word.
But much better, I feel, was the way I made my editorial presence known in my first ever magazine, a comic starring a detective parrot and genial monsters, plus a Jokes Page. Having written all the content myself, by hand, in blue biro, and knowing my readers – all six of ‘em – were eagerly waiting, I would end each issue with just a drawing of myself on the back page, saying BYE. And waving. Not only was this a succinct way of connecting with my readers, I felt, but also it gave me a chance to draw myself in the kinds of cool outfits I thought an editor should wear. This being 1986, and me being nine, I recall that fur-lined pixie boots were involved.
Some things don’t work out, that’s for sure, I reflect as I sit here today in more the realistic editorial attire of Boredoms T-shirt, fucked-up jeans and large woolly socks. Back pages have adverts on now, and I never did get those boots. But I did get to hear Scatter, Josephine Foster, LCD Soundsystem, Kano, Rodney P, Jandek, The Research, Deathprod, Richard Youngs, Comets on Fire, The Ex, Pavement, Losoul, Growing, Ultralyd and The Magnetic Fields.
Which was probably what I wanted all along.
Frances May Morgan
You can download the third issue of Plan B Magazine (#3) for free at this link.