John Peel Archive: obviously H is for Half Man Half Biscuit (and Hagar and Hammill)

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I'm most surprised to find a load of Sammy Hagar albums in this week's selection (H). I'd always had him down as a soft-metal AOR act, but then I only really know him from his stint in Van Halen when he replaced David Lee Roth. I didn't realise until now that he was the voice of Montrose, of Space Station No.5 fame, so in terms of the roots of metal was one of the first big American anthems. I do think that Hagar is the most surprising inclusion so far, much more so than A-ha or whoever else people have raised an eyebrow towards.

Less surprising are the angsty prog rock experimentations of Peter Hammill, the former lead singer of Van Der Graaf Generator, and in particular 1975's Nadir's Big Chance, often cited as one of the first English 'punk' records and a definite influence on the Sex Pistols. More on that album can be found here and most of the Hammill albums mentioned are on Spotify. I'm a Silent Corner and the Empty Stage man myself.

But H is all about Half Man Half Biscuit, a band made popular by the Peel show, and a long standing favourite of mine. It's dreadfully fashionable to claim that HMHB's Nigel Blackwell is one of the best quintessentially English lyricists of the last couple of decades, but it's true. Some delights are posted below, especially for those of you who believe that life is a 'perpetual biscuit reference'. All selections are songs that I first heard for the first coming out of a radio carrying the Peel programme, and they are also all on his shelves.

Our Tune, which I heard on a session before it was ever recorded for the McIntyre Treadmore and Davitt album. To this day I can't hear the place name St Neots without thinking of sampling Alessi.

Running Order Squabble Fest, with it's remarkable chant "You're going on after Crispy Ambulance".

The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman, you can thank your lucky stars...

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