The John Peel archive is a fitting tribute to a broadcaster who had such an impact on the listening habits of anybody who ventured onto his Radio One show throughout his long career. The archive is vast, taking in radio shows, photographs, correspondence and of course music. There are tie ins with I-Tunes and Spotify so that you can listen to selected tracks and acquire them for the music receptacle of your choice - I'll probably do that at some point in the future.
For now I am simply working my way through the A-Z of albums that are stacked so purposefully on the shelves of Peely's den and before you know it an hour or two has passed and you've only reached the 'Bs'. What I find fascinating so far is that John Peel was still listening to music that he wasn't actually broadcasting, or at least he was acquiring albums by bands who the music fashion police had locked up and then forgotten where they had put the key. Case in point: Bad Company.
I make no apologies for the fact that I was a fan of the band for their first three albums: Bad Company, Straight Shooter and Run With The Pack, released in 1974, 1975 and 1976 respectively, which were as good as you would expect from a band that consisted of half of Free, and a fifth of both Mott The Hoople and King Crimson. They did, to borrow from Wayne's World, rock! Up until the arrival of punk Bad Company could be heard on daytime radio, thereafter they were shunted into the rock show sidings of Tommy Vance or Nicky Horne where admittance was granted only to those with long hair and a can of special brew in each hand. It's interesting therefore to see that JP has three albums released after musics year zero.
There's always a certain back slapping, ego enhancing, self congratulatory smugness to be had whenever reviewing the record collections of the great and the good, nodding knowingly at those items you both have, equally you can recoil in horror at some of the apparent lapses in good taste which appear.
Marc Riley once said, ""Everyone knows of John's affection for The Undertones and The Fall... but for every band that is still remembered today there were probably 50 others that Peel gave much needed exposure to. Indeed if John didn’t buy into your bands music or philosophy and didn’t play your record....your days were pretty much numbered."
What is evident from the archive is that this man lived for music, in fact his whole life must have been consumed by searching for that next great thing, not necessarily the next big thing in terms of sales but the next big thing that would excite him. There was also the excitement and enjoyment he got from seeing other people enjoy the music he liked, I remember watching a programme about him journeying across the Netherlands in search of obscure records, between his DJing duties, and he got as much pleasure from meeting like minded souls as he did from searching out the records.
I think it's probably best to treat the archive as a library and dip in and out when time allows, otherwise I could find myself in there for days!