This week, something remarkable happened in the ever-mingling worlds of music and technology. The BBC announced that John Peel, the late and very legendary radio Radio 1 DJ, would have his massive record collection digitized and made available online. The John Peel Centre, in concert with a British Arts Council Project called The Space, will undertake the huge job of bringing Peel's collection to the digital masses.
The influence that John Peel, who died in 2004, has had on music over the last 50 years likely cannot be overstated. Bands which Peel identified early in their careers and went on to great success include Pink Floyd, Joy Division and The Smiths. Peel's personal record collection contains over 40,000 items, and his notes on those records will also be digitized, according to his widow.
John Peel's legacy includes something else: thousands of recordings of musicians in studio from 1967 to 2004 at the BBC, commonly referred to as Peel Sessions. Recorded quickly and typically using only 4 tracks with minimal overdubs, the Sessions, many of which have been released as albums, including some on Peel's own Strange Fruit label, stand as documentation of the careers of nearly 1,000 artists. The digitization project will also bring the entire catalog of Sessions to the BBC's website, but many are already available online, and I've made, for your enjoyment, Rdio and Spotify playlists of some of our favorites. And, just for kicks, we've thrown in "Teenage Kicks" by The Undertones, Peel's favorite song (it was played at his funeral). The resulting list is just a tiny, beautiful fraction of the Peel Session catalog. Enjoy.
Note: If you can't or won't access either Rdio or Spotify for whatever reason, I've included the track listing below.
"Day Tripper" - Jimi Hendrix (1967)
"Ziggy Stardust" - David Bowie (1972)
"Instant Hit" - The Slits (1977)
"Hanging Around" - The Stranglers (1977)
"(Moving Away From the) Pulsebeat" - Buzzcocks (1977)
"Louie Louie" Motörhead (1978)
"A Song from Under the Floorboards" - Magazine (1978)
"Hong Kong Garden" - Siouxsie and The Banshees (1978)
"Future and Pasts" - The Fall (1978)
"Wax and Wane" - Cocteau Twins (1982)
"This Charming Man" - The Smiths (1983)
"Molly's Lips" - Nirvana (1990)
"Sheela-Na-Gig" - PJ Harvey (1991)
"Underwear" - Pulp (1994)
"Grave Architecture" - Pavement (1997)
"Only Human" - Elastica (1999)
"Teenage Kicks" - The Undertones
The Spotify playlist can be found here. It does not contain the Elastica song, but has Galaxie 500's "Don't Let Your Mouth Go to Waste" in its place.