Monthly Archives: April 2009

Missing Top Gear Session Freed From Oblivion

Fans of ’60s English blues rock band Free might have been saddened to learn one of their sessions for a seminal music show was missing from the archives, but it’s all right now thanks to the work of one radio enthusiast.

Rare music collector Andrew Smith has discovered an off-air recording of Free, regarded as one of the definitive bands of the  era, performing on late ’60s BBC Radio 1 show Top Gear, presented by the late John Peel.

As with TV, much of the BBC’s radio output was wiped soon after transmission, but music shows were especially vulnerable due to the copyright issues of ever re-broadcasting material by featured acts.

Thankfully, music lovers made home recordings of broadcasts and this is how the Free session has survived – on a reel-to-reel tape.

The recovered Top Gear session, recorded on 15/7/68 and transmitted six days later on Sunday, July 21st, consists of four songs: ‘Waiting On You’, ‘Walk In My Shadow’, ‘Moonshine’ and ‘Free Me’. ‘Walk in My Shadow’ and ‘Moonshine’ appeared on Free’s debut album, Tons of Sobs, released later that year, in November 1968.

Speaking about how his interest in rare recordings began, Andrew Smith said:

‘I’ve been collecting radio and TV shows for about five years now and it all started when I found the Radio Rewind site and put a request on asking for old Radio 1 shows.

‘I look mostly for BBC Radio shows and have located quite a few BBC shows – mostly old Pick of the Pops from the ’60’s, Top 20 and Top 40 shows, and Radio 1 Roadshows.

‘I have found these tapes in charity shops, car boot sales and my local Household Waste tip,where they sell off items that have been dumped. I recently found two original Pick of the Pops shows from 1962 on reel-to-reel tapes that I bought from the tip.’

Explaining the Top Gear discovery, Andrew said: ‘I found the Free session on a 5 3/4″ reel-to-reel tape that was included in a batch of tapes I’d purchased from an advert on website Gumtree along with an old Akai 4000DS deck (a reel-to-reel tape deck).

‘I only really wanted the Akai deck because I had some tapes I wanted to check the contents of. The person who recorded the tapes did so off-air and just recorded the music from John Peel’s Top Gear shows, cutting most of John’s links out. There is only one intro on the four tracks.

‘The quality of the recordings is not fantastic. Considering they are off-air, Mono and recorded at only 3 3/4 ips (inches per second), you can’t expect brilliant quality.

‘But they are listenable and I am sure they can be tweaked to sound better.’

Andrew has been assisted with his find by Peel authority Ken Garner – author of The Peel Sessions – who identified the recording as featuring a missing BBC session.

Ken is currently sifting through the other recordings recovered by Andrew to see if they contain any more lost gems.

Andrew added that there is a possibility that one of the Free tracks might be released on CD in the future:

‘Ken contacted Universal Music Group (who own the performance copyrights) on my behalf to alert them to the existence of the tracks and they came back to him saying they may be interested in issuing one of the tracks on a Peel Session compilation in the future.

‘I feel quite proud of discovering the material,’ reflected Andrew, ‘even though I wasn’t really looking for it.

‘I am still on the lookout for material, but first and foremost for my own pleasure’.

Wiped would like to thank Ken Garner for his help in researching this story.

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Missing Doctor Season Finally Gets Made

It promised so much. Doctor Who‘s 23rd season was to open with the Doctor battling old foe The Celestial Toymaker before journeying on to an encounter with popular monsters The Ice-Warriors.

But it never happened like that. Instead, the BBC infamously axed the cult sci-fi show in 1985, halting pre-production of season 23, which was well under way with several commissioned scripts being worked on.

A public outcry forced the BBC to relent, briefly, but when the Tardis did re-appear on the nation’s screens 18 months later it was for a very different series of adventures, collectively known as ‘Trial of a Time Lord’.

The cancelled scripts originally planned for season 23 were permanently shelved, though fans did get a taste of what they’d missed with subsequent Target novelisations of the first three planned adventures: ‘The Nightmare Fair’ by Graham Williams, ‘The Ultimate Evil’ by Wally K Daly and ‘Mission to Magnus’ by Philip Martin.

Yet, as the recovery of missing Who episodes has proved time and again, fans should never say never. Big Finish  – which produces licenced audio adventures featuring the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth Doctors – has announced that it is putting right the mistakes of the past and finally making the ‘lost’ season.

Re-uniting Colin Baker as the Doctor and Nicola Bryant as companion Peri, Doctor Who: The Lost Stories will feature eight adventures developed from spiked season 23 scripts and other proposals that never made it to the small screen.

The first release, set for November 2009, will be ‘The Nightmare Fair’. Subsequent monthly releases are as follows:

December 2009: ‘Mission to Magnus’

January 2010: ‘Leviathan’

February 2010: ‘The Hollows of Time’

March 2010: To be announced

April 2010: ‘Point of Entry’

May 2010: ‘Paradise 5’

June 2010: ‘The Space Whale’

For more information, including cast details and full synopsies, visit the Big Finish website here.

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Hancock’s Half Hour Article/CD Releases Update

I have written an article about the recent discovery of soundtracks to six missing TV episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour for comedy website Chortle. You can read it by clicking here.

In addition to the forthcoming release of ‘The Flight of the Red Shadow’/’The Wrong Man’ in July – available for pre-order from the BBC Shop here – a second CD set containing the soundtracks to missing episodes ‘The Horror Serial’/’The Beauty Contest’ is scheduled to be released by BBC Audiobooks in November 2009.

Both CDs will feature restored versions of the soundtracks and especially-written sleeve notes.

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Tyrannosaurus Rex: Missing Top Gear Session Discovered

A previously missing 1960s BBC session by psychedelic rock/folk band Tyrannosaurus Rex has been discovered.

The session by the group – which would evolve in to legendary glam act T-Rex in the 1970s – was broadcast on March 23rd, 1968 as part of the BBC Radio 1’s influential “progressive” music programme Top Gear, but wiped soon after.

The BBC archives might not have retained a copy but a fan did, making an off-air recording from his radio featuring the whole session, with DJ John Peel’s introduction and performances of ‘Knight’, ‘Debora’, ‘Afghan Woman’ and ‘Frowning Atahuallpa’.

The sound quality of the domestic tape is said to be good on account of the fan plugging his recorder straight in to the radio, as opposed to placing a mike next to the speaker.

Responsible for discovering the recording is Nigel Lees, an expert on psychedelic music and founder of the Top Sounds record label, set up in 2004 with the purpose of conducting a ‘slow but sure archaeological dig into the UK’s lost pop archive’.

He announced his discovery on the Missing Episodes forum here.

Nigel has been responsible for tracking down other lost live performances by 60s bands such as Tomorrow, Kaleidoscope and Killing Floor, either preserved on transcription disks or from off-air recordings.

These previously unreleased gems, performed on shows including Saturday Club and The Dave Cash Programme as well as Top Gear, have been released commercially by Top Sounds (with the full blessing of the BBC) on three CD compilations: ‘Alphabeat‘; ‘Shapes and Sounds‘ and ‘Shapes and Sounds Vol 2‘.

Wiped hopes to bring you a feature on Nigel and the Top Sounds label soon.

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Top 10 Missing Cult TV Shows

More of a plug than a news story: I’ve just written a top 10 missing cult TV shows list for website Den of Geek and it can be found by clicking here.

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Unearthed Tapes Reveal Flashez Of Brilliance

Several complete episodes of fondly-remembered Australian pop show Flashez have been discovered.

The weekday youth magazine-style show, which ran from 1976-7 on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), featured home-grown talent from across the worlds of music, TV and sports, such as bands Midnight Oil and The Saints, and champion surfer Mark Warren.

Film reports and music clips featuring international stars such as Star Wars’ actor Mark Hamill, The Beatles’ Ringo Starr and punk fashion designer Vivienne Westwood were also part of the mix.

As with broadcasting networks in other countries, ABC routinely recycled their 2″ mastertapes of programmes and Flashez was sadly no exception.

Until recently only interview and music clips from the show remained in the archives, and though these numbered in the hundreds, they couldn’t give a true feel of the programme as broadcast.

But all that’s changed thanks to the diligent work of ABC researcher John Williams.

John has managed to trace several full episodes by checking with those who were involved in the making of Flashez, such as producers and presenters.

One of the hosts, Ray Burgess, donated four full episodes  – including the first and last shows – in 2007 and since then more material has re-surfaced, with a further three whole shows apparently coming to light in the last few months.

A delighted John told Wiped: “It was a bit disconcerting when I was helping put together a series of the history of ABC programmes in 2006 (50th anniversary of ABC TV) and we couldn’t trace a single episode (of Flashez)!

“We had film inserts and stories on film but no live programs. Thankfully things changed in 2007 and this led to further recoveries.”

Wiped hopes to provide more details about what exactly has been re-discovered in the near future.

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