Feature / Playlist: Every track (on Spotify) for every John Peel festive 50

Over on our Spotify page, alongside all the playlists we’ve received from artists, albums of the year, our monthly playlists, psych playlists, classic DJ sets, not forgotten series and other delights (you should really check it out and follow some of them), we’ve added a new, mammoth playlist – every track currently on Spotify from every year of the John Peel festive 50.

For those that remember possibly the most influential DJ in British broadcasting history, maybe further than that – every year he had a listeners ‘Festive 50’ – voted for by listeners to his show

By the end of each year the listeners postal votes (certainly at the beginning were counted by the stickler Peel, who marked them off in his ledger.

The vote started in 1976 as an all time favourite three tracks, with that format continuing until 1982, when it was replaced by a chart made up of track from only the year in question, except for a millennium chart of all time.

Not that Peel liked all of the listeners choices, he thought that 1986 chart was too predictable containing as it does, a good proportion of tracks by The Smiths, his beloved Fall, and a smattering of Wedding present, and 1991 became known as the phantom 50 because Peel didnt compile it until later in the year, and played it over consecutive programmes. And that was in 1993.

By 1986, the chart was overstuffed with listeners’ top tracks of the year. John didn’t like this at all, even though it contained many of his favourite artists, including seven tracks from The Smiths, seven by The Fall and four from The Wedding Present, as he felt that it was too predictable and unadventurous.

The Festive 50 of 1991 was also known as the ‘Phantom 50’, because despite being voted for by listeners, it was not compiled by John until later in the year. 1997’s meanwhile saw Peel protest at the amount of air time he had at that point, saying he only really had time for a Festive 31.

Peel’s death in October 2004 didn’t spell the end of the Festive 50, as using the usual formula and given Peel had been on air for most of that year, Rob Da Bank broadcast that particular end of year chart. It carried on in some form, firstly on Radio one and then over on Dandelion Radio, but for the purposes of the playlist, we stopped with 2004.

So here it is, over 1000 tracks, of all styles genres and persuasions to keep you going through these long lockdown days. Please share, follow, and help us grow our playlists, both on Spotify and other streaming platforms.

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