Sunshine Recorder


Peel Sessions
"I’m the one who comes on Radio 1 late at nights and plays records made by sulky Belgian art students dying of tuberculosis." — John Peel
This was how John Peel introduced himself to a family audience, on one of his occasional forays into British television. He can’t always have been graying, or bearded, or balding, but this is how most people continue to visualize him. He seemed, to those of us who listened to him, to have been born avuncular. For nearly four decades, until his death in 2004, Peel shared his musical enthusiasms with the ever-changing audience of his late-night show on BBC Radio 1 and made his personal collection into a truly representative historical document, like a latter-day Alan Lomax. Except that in this case, the field came to him: homemade cassette recordings sent from across Britain, and beyond, to Peel’s door. This didn’t mean that no hard work was involved. Peel listened to them all, working through an avalanche of audio slush, with a heroic commitment to the aesthetically new.
Now, though not for long, we can experience the chaotic variety of Peel’s taste. Over the course of the next four months, the first hundred records for each letter of Peel’s alphabetized and rigorously ordered collection of 26,000 are to be presented online, replete with their owner’s personally devised catalogue number and, occasionally, remarks. The John Peel Archive has been supported by the Arts Council and curated with the assistance of Sheila Ravenscroft, Peel’s wife. For each letter, Ravenscroft has selected an artist of special significance to Peel, such as Dick Dale or Fairport Convention, and hosted a short corresponding film. There are links to Spotify as well as to short films, video footage, and audio files from the famous sessions recorded for his show, including an early performance by David Bowie.
Peel resisted fashions, even as he shaped them. While looking out for world-music records—things like David Lewiston’s Balinese gamelan anthology, Music from the Morning of the World—I found a surprising number of albums from some geezer called J.S. Bach. There were no apparent rules governing the content of the show. Actually, there was one rule, but it could never be mentioned. In Suffolk Comforts, a fiftieth-birthday tribute film, Peel squirms while trying to describe his taste: “At the heart of anything good there should be a kernel of something undefinable, and if you can define it, or claim to be able to define it, then, in a sense, you’ve missed the point.” Undeterred by the Pavlovian associations that make country, punk, rockabilly, reggae, prog, folk, rave, hip-hop, indie pop, dubstep, grime and grunge all mutually unacceptable subcultural experiences, he prepared playlists that were guaranteed to offend, enlighten, and satisfy in drunken disproportion.

Peel Sessions

"I’m the one who comes on Radio 1 late at nights and plays records made by sulky Belgian art students dying of tuberculosis." — John Peel

This was how John Peel introduced himself to a family audience, on one of his occasional forays into British television. He can’t always have been graying, or bearded, or balding, but this is how most people continue to visualize him. He seemed, to those of us who listened to him, to have been born avuncular. For nearly four decades, until his death in 2004, Peel shared his musical enthusiasms with the ever-changing audience of his late-night show on BBC Radio 1 and made his personal collection into a truly representative historical document, like a latter-day Alan Lomax. Except that in this case, the field came to him: homemade cassette recordings sent from across Britain, and beyond, to Peel’s door. This didn’t mean that no hard work was involved. Peel listened to them all, working through an avalanche of audio slush, with a heroic commitment to the aesthetically new.

Now, though not for long, we can experience the chaotic variety of Peel’s taste. Over the course of the next four months, the first hundred records for each letter of Peel’s alphabetized and rigorously ordered collection of 26,000 are to be presented online, replete with their owner’s personally devised catalogue number and, occasionally, remarks. The John Peel Archive has been supported by the Arts Council and curated with the assistance of Sheila Ravenscroft, Peel’s wife. For each letter, Ravenscroft has selected an artist of special significance to Peel, such as Dick Dale or Fairport Convention, and hosted a short corresponding film. There are links to Spotify as well as to short films, video footage, and audio files from the famous sessions recorded for his show, including an early performance by David Bowie.

Peel resisted fashions, even as he shaped them. While looking out for world-music records—things like David Lewiston’s Balinese gamelan anthology, Music from the Morning of the World—I found a surprising number of albums from some geezer called J.S. Bach. There were no apparent rules governing the content of the show. Actually, there was one rule, but it could never be mentioned. In Suffolk Comforts, a fiftieth-birthday tribute film, Peel squirms while trying to describe his taste: “At the heart of anything good there should be a kernel of something undefinable, and if you can define it, or claim to be able to define it, then, in a sense, you’ve missed the point.” Undeterred by the Pavlovian associations that make country, punk, rockabilly, reggae, prog, folk, rave, hip-hop, indie pop, dubstep, grime and grunge all mutually unacceptable subcultural experiences, he prepared playlists that were guaranteed to offend, enlighten, and satisfy in drunken disproportion.

Editors - The Racing Rats

Editors are a British indie rock/post-punk revival band from Birmingham, England, formed by Tom Smith (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Russell Leetch (bass) Ed Lay (drums) and Chris Urbanowicz (guitar 2003 - 2012) who met while studying at Staffordshire University, in Stafford, England, United Kingdom during 2003. Editors have so far released two platinum studio albums, and three in total, whilst selling over several million copies between them worldwide. Their debut album The Back Room was released in 2005. It contained the hits “Munich” and “Blood” and the following year received a Mercury Prize nomination. Their follow-up album An End Has a Start went to number 1 in the UK Album Chart in June 2007 and earned the band a Brit Awards nomination for best British Band. It also spawned another Top 10 hit single, “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors”. The band’s third album, In This Light and on This Evening, was released in October 2009 and went straight to number 1 in the UK Album Chart. Their brand of dark indie rock is commonly compared to the sound of bands such as Echo & the Bunnymen, Joy Division, Interpol, The Chameleons and U2. The band is currently in studio working on their fourth studio album, expected to release in 2012. Alongside their critical acclaim and strong success in the charts, Editors have consistently enjoyed sold out tours and numerous headlining festival slots. Their brand of dark indie rock is commonly compared to the sound of bands such as Echo & the Bunnymen, Joy Division, Interpol and The Chameleons.

Global Communication - 4:02 (from 76:04)

Global Communication is a British electronic music act, composed of Tom Middleton and Mark Pritchard. Their debut LP, 76:14 is one of the most acclaimed albums from the ambient music genre and from 1990s electronic music in general. It sits alongside the likes of FSOL’s Lifeforms and Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92. Beyond their work as Global Communication, they have also recorded as Jedi Knights, Secret Ingredients, The Chameleon, Link & E621 and Reload; have done multiple remixes for various artists under each of their aliases, including a 1993 Reload remix of “On” by Aphex Twin and a 1997 Jedi Knights remix of “Home” by Depeche Mode; and founded the Evolution Records and Universal Language Productions labels.

Link: Three Myths of Immigration

I am giving the Milton K Wong Lecture in Vancouver in June. Entitled ‘What’s Wrong with Multiculturalism? A European Perspective’, it will try to explain to a Canadian audience, for whom multiculturalism has a very different meaning than it does to a European one, the contours of the European debate, as well as my disagreements with both sides. In particular I want to show why both multiculturalists and many of their critics (particularly their rightwing critics) buy into the same set of myths about the history of immigration into Europe, these three in particular:  “European nations used to be homogenous but have become plural  because of mass immigration,” “contemporary immigration is different to previous waves, so much so that social structures need fundamental reorganization to accommodate it,” and “European nations have adopted multicultural policies because minorities have demanded them.”

Link: Britain destroyed records of colonial crimes

Review finds thousands of papers detailing shameful acts were culled, while others were kept secret illegally.

Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review has concluded.

Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they were hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive, beyond the reach of historians and members of the public, and in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain.

The archive came to light last year when a group of Kenyans detained and allegedly tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion won the right to sue the British government. The Foreign Office promised to release the 8,800 files from 37 former colonies held at the highly-secure government communications centre at Hanslope Park in Buckinghamshire.

The historian appointed to oversee the review and transfer, Tony Badger, master of Clare College, Cambridge, says the discovery of the archive put the Foreign Office in an “embarrassing, scandalous” position. “These documents should have been in the public archives in the 1980s,” he said. “It’s long overdue.” The first of them are made available to the public on Wednesday at the National Archive at Kew, Surrey.

The papers at Hanslope Park include monthly intelligence reports on the “elimination” of the colonial authority’s enemies in 1950s Malaya; records showing ministers in London were aware of the torture and murder of Mau Mau insurgents in Kenya, including a case of aman said to have been “roasted alive”; and papers detailing the lengths to which the UK went to forcibly remove islanders from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

However, among the documents are a handful which show that many of the most sensitive papers from Britain’s late colonial era were not hidden away, but simply destroyed. These papers give the instructions for systematic destruction issued in 1961 after Iain Macleod, secretary of state for the colonies, directed that post-independence governments should not get any material that “might embarrass Her Majesty’s government”, that could “embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants or others eg police informers”, that might compromise intelligence sources, or that might “be used unethically by ministers in the successor government”.

Among the documents that appear to have been destroyed were: records of the abuse of Mau Mau insurgents detained by British colonial authorities, who were tortured and sometimes murdered; reports that may have detailed the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers in Malaya by soldiers of the Scots Guards in 1948; most of the sensitive documents kept by colonial authorities in Aden, where the army’s Intelligence Corps operated a secret torture centre for several years in the 1960s; and every sensitive document kept by the authorities in British Guiana, a colony whose policies were heavily influenced by successive US governments and whose post-independence leader was toppled in a coup orchestrated by the CIA.

The documents that were not destroyed appear to have been kept secret not only to protect the UK’s reputation, but to shield the government from litigation. If the small group of Mau Mau detainees are successful in their legal action, thousands more veterans are expected to follow.

30 Years Since the Falklands War

Next Monday, April 2, will mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War — or, as the Argentinians refer to it, la Guerra de las Malvinas. The Falklands, an Atlantic archipelago 460 km (290 mi) east of Argentina, are the subject of a long-standing dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom. In 1982, Argentinian junta leader General Leopoldo Galtieri sent 600 troops to take the islands, which then had a population of 1,800 people. The British government was surprised by the attack, but quickly organized a task force and sailed south to retake the territory. A brief but bloody series of battles took place at sea, in the air, and on the ground, ending with a British victory on June 14 — 74 days after the initial invasion. In all, more than 900 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured. The loss marked the beginning of the end of Galtieri’s junta, but not the dispute over the islands. Current president Cristina Fernandez has been ratcheting up pressure on Britain to engage in new talks over what her countrymen call the Malvinas. [41 photos]

(via ifiwereabear)

Dickens’s Victorian London is a collection of 19th-century photographs which has been published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth.

1. A view of the Strand around 1890, taken from in front of St Mary le Strand. On the left is Somerset House, where Dickens’s father John worked as a clerk for the Navy Pay Office.

2. Lower Fore Street, a narrow cobblestoned street in Lambeth, pictured in 1865. This industrial area became very densely populated over the Victorian period; its inhabitants rose from 28,000 in 1801 to nearly 300,000 by the time this photograph was taken.

3. This picture shows St John’s Gate, the gateway to what was once the priory of the Knights of St John. By the 18th century, it housed the offices of the publishers of the Gentleman’s Magazine.

BBC Brings George Orwell to Life

George Orwell occupies a funny place in the modern literary consciousness. The last few generations came to know him, in English class, as the author of the novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. My own peers may remember their teachers’ awkward inversion of the earlier book, forced as they were to clarify Orwell’s already direct Russian Revolution allegory by explaining that, a long time ago, there lived a man named Trotsky who was a lot like Snowball the pig, and so on. The later book, many readers’ first glimpse at a realistic dystopia, tends to hit us harder. All those tinny, piped-in patriotic anthems; the varicose veins; the sawdusty cigarettes; the defeated cups of watery tea — why on Earth, we asked ourselves, did Orwell so confidently foresee a shambolic world of such simultaneous chintziness and brutality?

Apart from his six novels and four volumes of memoir, Orwell produced an astonishing quantity of essays. These I regularly consult in my brick-like Everyman’s Library edition, and I bought that on the strength of two particular pieces: “Politics and the English Language” and “Why I Write.” Many of us encounter these here or there in the course of higher education, and none of us with an interest in reading, writing, thinking, and the feedback loop between the three forget them. Pressured to cite the most incisive passage in all of Orwell, how could I decide between the former essay’s description of how “a mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details,” and the latter essay’s contrast of the writer’s ego against that of “the great mass of human beings” who, after thirty, “almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery”?

Despite passing at only 46, Orwell left an almost imposingly large body of written work. Readers who’ve savored it and want to learn, hear, and see more come up against a certain difficulty: we have a few photographs of Orwell, but as far as sound or film, nothing exists. Yet that didn’t stop BBC Four from putting together George Orwell: A Life in Pictures, casting actor Chris Langham as Orwell, having him speak Orwell’s words, and inserting him, Zelig-like, into historical footage real and reconstructed of Orwell’s places and times. Documentary purists may balk at this, but strong choices make strong films. As a compulsive reader of Orwell myself, I’ll take any chance I can to experience more richly the mind of this child of the “lower upper-middle class” whose fascination with poverty drove him down into it; this socialist who loathed both the trappings and proponents of socialism; this worshiper of hard manual labor who understood more about the impact of words than most of us do today; this famed writer who cloaked his given name of Eric Arthur Blair to better retreat, alone, into his gray, quasi-ascetic English pleasures.

NOTE: The video displayed above is only a five-minute clip from the full 95-minute program. You can watch all of its segments on a continuous playlist here.)


The OldMapsOnline Portal is an easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world. It allows the user to search for online digital historical maps across numerous different collections via a geographical search. Search by typing a place-name or by clicking in the map window, and narrow by date. The search results provide a direct link to the map image on the website of the host institution. OldMapsOnline has been created by a collaboration between The Great Britain Historical GIS Project based at The University of Portsmouth, UK and Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland.

The OldMapsOnline Portal is an easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world. It allows the user to search for online digital historical maps across numerous different collections via a geographical search. Search by typing a place-name or by clicking in the map window, and narrow by date. The search results provide a direct link to the map image on the website of the host institution. OldMapsOnline has been created by a collaboration between The Great Britain Historical GIS Project based at The University of Portsmouth, UK and Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland.

Link: Adam Curtis on Think Tanks

The guiding idea at the heart of today’s political system is freedom of choice. The belief that if you apply the ideals of the free market to all sorts of areas in society, people will be liberated from the dead hand of government. The wants and desires of individuals then become the primary motor of society.

But this has led to a very peculiar paradox. In politics today we have no choice at all. Quite simply There Is No Alternative.

That was fine when the system was working well. But since 2008 there has been a rolling economic crisis, and the system increasingly seems unable to rescue itself. You would expect that in response to such a crisis new, alternative ideas would emerge. But this hasn’t happened.

Nobody - not just from the left, but from anywhere - has come forward and tried to grab the public imagination with a vision of a different way to organise and manage society.

It’s a bit odd - and I thought I would tell a number of stories about why we find it impossible to imagine any alternative. Why we have become so possessed by the ideology of our age that we cannot think outside it.

The first story is called: CARRY ON THINKING

It is about the rise of the modern Think Tank and how in a very strange way they have made thinking impossible.

Think Tanks surround politics today and are the very things that are supposed to generate new ideas. But if you go back and look at how they rose up - at who invented them and why  - you discover they are not quite what they seem. That in reality they may have nothing to do with genuinely developing new ideas, but have  become a branch of the PR industry whose aim is to do the very opposite - to endlessly prop up and reinforce today’s accepted political wisdom.

So successful have they been in this task that many Think Tanks have actually become serious obstacles to really thinking about new and inspiring visions of how to change society for the better.


Free Scotland
Why the Scots want independence. 
Scotland’s nationalist ambitions don’t generally get international attention, but the past few weeks have been a uniquely exciting time in the long-running campaign for Scottish independence. On Jan. 25, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, and his Scottish National Party (SNP) government announced plans for a historic referendum on independence to be held in the fall of 2014, attracting coverage, comment, and curiosity from around the world.
The SNP government’s proposed question is “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” The SNP is  considering whether a second, as yet undefined question should be asked, suggesting an intermediate step of devolving powers to the Scottish  government without full independence. This notion, known as “devo max,” has the  support of a significant portion of public opinion — though this support remains  unmeasurable given that no serious detailed proposals have yet emerged.
London has not responded well to this development. In a speech on Feb. 16, British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to   “fight with everything I have to keep our United Kingdom together.” He  continued: “To me, this is not some issue of policy or strategy or  calculation —  it matters head, heart, and soul. Our shared home is under threat and  everyone who cares about it needs to speak out.” In the end, Cameron may  find that this type of rhetoric will only hasten the demise of the  union he has vowed to protect.
Many are wondering why, exactly, this disquiet has emerged in Scotland. After all, the union has been a pretty peaceful one since at least the 17th century. But there is indeed a strong case to be made for an independent Scotland, a case that has only grown more compelling in light of Europe’s and Britain’s latest economic woes.

Free Scotland

Why the Scots want independence.

Scotland’s nationalist ambitions don’t generally get international attention, but the past few weeks have been a uniquely exciting time in the long-running campaign for Scottish independence. On Jan. 25, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, and his Scottish National Party (SNP) government announced plans for a historic referendum on independence to be held in the fall of 2014, attracting coverage, comment, and curiosity from around the world.

The SNP government’s proposed question is “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” The SNP is considering whether a second, as yet undefined question should be asked, suggesting an intermediate step of devolving powers to the Scottish government without full independence. This notion, known as “devo max,” has the support of a significant portion of public opinion — though this support remains unmeasurable given that no serious detailed proposals have yet emerged.

London has not responded well to this development. In a speech on Feb. 16, British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to “fight with everything I have to keep our United Kingdom together.” He continued: “To me, this is not some issue of policy or strategy or calculation — it matters head, heart, and soul. Our shared home is under threat and everyone who cares about it needs to speak out.” In the end, Cameron may find that this type of rhetoric will only hasten the demise of the union he has vowed to protect.

Many are wondering why, exactly, this disquiet has emerged in Scotland. After all, the union has been a pretty peaceful one since at least the 17th century. But there is indeed a strong case to be made for an independent Scotland, a case that has only grown more compelling in light of Europe’s and Britain’s latest economic woes.

Thom Yorke - Skip Divided (from The Eraser)

Thomas Edward Yorke (born 7 October, 1968 in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England) is best known as the lead singer of the English alternative rock band Radiohead. He has also recorded as a solo musician. His debut album, The Eraser, debuted July 10th 2006 in the UK and July 11th in the US. Two singles were released from the album, “Harrowdown Hill” and “Analyse”. Yorke formed Atoms for Peace, who toured in 2010 performing the entirety of The Eraser. The rock ‘supergroup’ features Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker, and percussionist Mauro Refosco. A collection of remixes from The Eraser from such electronic luminaries as Burial, Four Tet, Modeselektor, Various Production and Surgeon were released as MP3 files initially in 2007, followed by a series of limited 12” in 2008. These were eventually released on CD as The Eraser Rmxs album. He mainly plays electric guitar, acoustic guitar and piano, but has also played drums and bass guitar (notably during the Kid A and Amnesiac Radiohead sessions).

Link: A Tale of Two Towers

It was the crowning achievement of his career. And it was the beginning of a feud. At the 1889 inauguration of his famous Paris tower, Gustav Eiffel was feted as a French national hero. But among the few who did not appreciate his iron skyscraper was a patriotic Englishman named Edward Watkin. Watkin resented the Eiffel Tower for one simple reason: it stood more than five times higher than Britain’s national monument, Nelson’s Column. As far as Watkin was concerned, Gustav Eiffel had thrown down the gauntlet. He made a private vow to construct a British tower that would be taller, bigger and more spectacular than anything the French could build. […] “Anything Paris can do, London can do better!” was his boast. By the end of 1889, architects from across the world were working on designs for a tower that would be taller and more spectacular than Eiffel’s. Watkin’s idea fired the public imagination and his Metropolitan Tower Construction Company became a byword for national pride. The Company offered a prize of 500 guineas for the best designed tower. With more than a hint of mischief, Watkin even dared to approach Gustav Eiffel and ask if he’d like to submit an entry. Eiffel politely declined. “If I,” he said, “after erecting my tower on French soil, were to erect one in England, they would not think me so good a Frenchman as I hope I am.”