A Tribute to John Peel
Under the forgiving guise of radio, John Peel never really aged throughout his 37 years playing records on BBC 1. His aptitude for discovering talent stayed consistently ahead of his peers, from first plugging Captain Beefheart and David Bowie back in the seventies, to being the reason any of us ever heard of The Strokes.
Apart informing a majority of bands working today, John’s most permanent legacy resides in the vast number of “Peel Sessions” he recorded with some of the most notable acts of the last few decades. Originally conceived in 1986 as a means to fill air time with consideration for the BBC’s rigid broadcast standards limiting the amount of recorded music a DJ was allowed to play, Peel had his favorite bands record what were normally four song setlists, rendering versions that sounded somewhere between a studio recording and a live set, with an added intangible quality that came from the legacy of the studio, and of the man behind the glass.
Had Peel not died of a heart attack back in 2004, today would have been his 70th birthday. To mark the occasion, what follows is a compilation of some of the best of the Peel Sessions.
“Somebody was trying to tell me that CDs are better than vinyl because they don’t have any surface noise. I said, “Listen, mate, *life* has surface noise.”
– John Peel
The Peel Sessions.
The Wire – I Am The Fly
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps
The Strokes – The Modern Age
Gang of Four – I Found That Essence Rare
Pulp – Babies
New Order – Dreams Never End
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
The Cure – All Cats Are Grey
Young Marble Giants – Final Day
Mira Calix – She Keeps Her Secrets
The Human League – Being Boiled
cLOUDDEAD – Side A Part 1
Apparat – Van
Aphex Twin – Pancake Lizard
Autechre – Drane
Boards of Canada – Happy Cycling
Spritualized – Don’t Go
The Pixies – In Heaven (Lady In the Radiator Song)
Slowdive – Shine
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – The Film that Changed My Wife
Smog – I Break Horses
Graham Coxon – Shipbuilding