You certainly can come across some surprise discoveries on YouTube.
Some of them can be good and others can be bad, but this is the very best one.
I found the TheCarsThatAteParis YouTube channel, while researching last year’s #keepingitpeel piece, and it contains over 100-ish John Peel Sessions (with, fittingly, just a tape deck in the background) from the late 1990s (as well as several Andy Kershaw sessions and other bits ‘n’ bobs).
Regarding this year’s #keepingitpeel, which marks the seventh anniversary of Peel’s death, it felt fitting to rummage through the contents of this channel to find some of the best and most underappreciated sessions from the aforementioned period.
I can assume that most who are reading this are aware of the sessions by Half Man Half Biscuit, Super Furry Animals, Finitribe, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Mogwai – but you may or may not have heard of the artists mentioned below.
But, whatever you do, make sure you discover at least one piece of music today that you haven’t heard of before – whether it’s on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube or elsewhere.
‘Yes, Sir, I Can Boogie’ by Velodrome 2000 (15 April 1998)
When you combine kitsch karaoke with post-rock, you get Velodrome 2000.
The closest comparison to this little gem is Tim Ten Yen meets Sultans of Ping FC, and it all sounds effortlessly improvised.
Heck, they even come away with some credit after briefly covering ‘Back for Good’ on ‘Sindy Sex Aid’.
Clichéd phrases like “inspired”, “genius” and “ahead of their time” are all applicable, here.
‘Futura Trance No II’ by White Hassle (3 November 1998)
Go on, admit it: you’d laugh at a dinner-party version of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Gangster Tripping’.
But don’t, as this is unexpectedly brilliant and irritatingly catchy.
It has the right swagger and ambient feel, without feeling overwhelming or pretentious. The track is a genuine delight.
‘Things That Make You Spin’ by Done Lying Down (10 September 1997)
While ‘Things That Make You Spin’ may sound eerie and inexpensive, there’s an undoubted charm that overrides any flaws.
The catchy hooks also ensure that it’s a grower and there are also some inventive touches that work well.
All in all, it’s a solid piece of low-fi that perhaps merited more attention.
‘First Kiss Feelings vs Everyday Sensations’ by Girlfrendo (9 October 1997)
How on earth did Girlfrendo manage to go under the radar during the late 1990s?
Don’t bother applying the indie-pop tag on this short-lived combo, this is pure bubblegum pop at its best.
Some may think that it sounds a bit too ironic for its own good, but this is just a minor flaw; it’s still a ‘singing to the bathroom mirror on a Friday night’ track.
Overall, it’s marvellous fun.
‘Rock Freak’ by Black Star Liner (7 October 1997)
This is a frantic out-of-control slice of big beat and dub that never loses speed from the word go; it’s full of samples and has a strong edge to it.
It offers something different to the dance genre and also manages to be instantly accessible to the listener.
Black Star Liner were underappreciated back in the day and this hasn’t dated one bit, that’s for sure.
‘Rhine & Courtesan’ by Rachel’s (22 October 1997)
This track got a brief mention in the last #keepingitpeel blog and it deserves a more thorough profile this time.
‘Rhine & Courtesan’ really can’t be praised enough: not only is it expertly performed, but its understated tone is spot on and achingly beautiful.
It may be simple and modest, but it’s perfect the way it is; adding any vocals or effects would’ve spoilt it.
And, while you’re at it, also check out ‘Ya Weledi’ by Natacha Atlas on ‘The Andy Kershaw Show’, given Kershaw’s connections to Peel.