As Recommends reported a few weeks ago The Space, an exciting new experimental platform created by The Arts Council and the BBC, have embarked on an ambitious project to make part of John Peel’s record collection available as an online archive. The task is nothing less than mammoth, given the size of Peel’s collection; after a lifetime of broadcasting the much missed champion of emergent and esoteric music had amassed in excess of 25,000 LPs, 40,000 singles and “many thousands of CDs”.
Given The Space’s finite lifespan (it launched on 1st May and runs until the 1st October) it would have been impossible to archive everything, so rather than cataloging the entire collection there will be a new batch of albums every week. Starting at ‘A’ the project unearths a 100 alphabetised albums every week, and whilst users won’t be able to stream them directly from the site there will be links to Spotify, Soundcloud and iTunes wherever possible.
There will also be a new video uploaded each week, focusing on a certain album or artist chosen by John’s wife Sheila Ravenscroft. The first film features interviews with Folk musician Mike Absalom, whose 1969 album ‘Save The Last Gherkin For Me’ has the honour of being catalogued ‘A0001′. In the film Absalom talks about the impact John’s first pirate radio show, The Perfumed Garden, had on the nascent Hippy scene, describing him as “a musical maypole with everyone swinging around him”.
Whilst the collection builds week on week there’s are plenty of other Peel related content to peruse. Anyone who tuned into his BBC show will remember the Sessions, for which hundreds of bands turned up and played live. A list of sessions available for streaming via Spotify can be found on the site, with artists as diverse as Nirvana, Dreadzone, Gorky’s Zygnotic Mynci and XTC appearing. The two bands most associated with Peel – The Fall and The Undertones – also feature.
There are also clips from some of Peel’s many thousands of broadcasts, with highlights including John reminiscing about his days on the pirate radio and reading out a letter from Clara, a 14 year old from Moseley. Perhaps the most telling of all is the clip titled ‘John’s Philosophy’, which he uses his beloved Liverpool FC as a metaphor for his lifelong passion for music:
“…In the way that I’m more concerned about what Liverpool do next Saturday or next season than last Saturday or indeed their long and glorious history, it’s the same with the music: I’m more interested in the records that I’ve not yet heard, that I’ve got in the back of the car to listen to this weekend, than the records I’ve played on the show this week”.
Visit the John Peel Record Collection