Home taping didn’t kill music, in the end it helped to preserve it.
If it wasn’t for those who took the time and effort to record those radio broadcast, much would have been lost. The BBC might have complete shows in their archives but for obvious copyright/ownership reasons are unable to release them. The one good thing though it that if you live in London you can go to the British Library and listen to many archived Peel shows. But what about the rest of us ? The public, the world should be able to access these broadcasts and is it thanks to the indispensable John Peel Wiki that we can.
And I’m getting to the point now – It is via that online public library which helped me listen to what you heard with John Peel’s shows on the BBC World Service. I myself got to be a listener in the mid-1990’s when I was in Germany. Munich to be precise. One of the things I discovered was that many people in Europe can speak or understand English, but the further away from the UK you go, the less that becomes the case. I moved to Munich before learning any German, it was short notice so I didn’t have the time. Before I flew out of Heathrow I purchased this world band radio (pictured below). You could get some English newspapers at the train station, but they were a day old. Back then in the pre-internet days, it was the radio and BBC World Service which was your contact with home.
It was on this radio to my delight one night to hear the dulcet tones of John Peel doing one of his World Service broadcasts. It was a shortwave band on which I found him, with the signal fading in and out and interference over that. At some point it was nothing but noise… or that could have been Napalm Death, you never know… but this was Peelie doing his thing and it brought me comfort.
Those who listened to and recorded his BBC World Service show from further distances now have the Peel Wiki as a way to share their memories and his broadcasts. If you clicked the link above you’ll see there are many of them. I have randomly selected tracks from randomly selected shows. The earlier ones are short wave radio recordings (I’ve added a link to the song on YouTube for a clearer version) so if you don’t want to hear what we heard tuning in back then, skip forward a bit:
Keeping It Peel Podcast – John Peel BBC World Service Part 1
- Show intro and: Interferon – Get Out Of London [YouTube] (October 1983)
- Show intro and: The Word – Wide Awake [YouTube] (5th December 1984)
- Tippa Irie – It’s Good To Have The Feeling You’re The Best [YouTube] (4th January 1985)
- Intro and : The Fall – Bombast [YouTube] (28th October 1985)
- We The Living – Mixed Up World [YouTube] (28th February 1987)
- New Order – Fine Time [YouTube] (5th December 1988)
- Even As We Speak – Goes So Slow (25th September 1989)
- Dub Syndicate – Stone Immaculate (13th May 1991)
- Wild Jimmy Spruill – Kansas City March 1959 (18th March 1993)
- Shaba Kahamba Et Les Espirits Saints – Bitumba (10th August 1993)
- Inspiral Carpets feat. Mark.E.Smith – I Want You (February 1994)
- Pavement – Cut Your Hair (February 1994)
» Download (42mb / 45mins)
Keeping It Peel Podcast – John Peel BBC World Service Part 2
- Intro from 31st December 1994
- The Fall – Get A Hotel (31st December 1994)
- Kaisers – Don’t Ask Me and: Big Three – You’ve Gotta Keep Her Under Hand (11th February 1995)
- Show intro and: DOSE feat. Mark.E.Smith – Plug Myself In (18th December 1995)
- Intro via American college radio, show intro and then: Black Star Liner – Harmon Session Special XI (20th April 1996)
- John Parish & Polly Jean Harvey – Heela (20th October 1996)
- Bette Davis & The Balconettes – Paul Power T-Shirt (10th March 1997)
- Male Nurse – My Own Private P. Swayze (15th April 1998)
- Monkey Steals The Drum – My Chinese Burns [YouTube] and a shout to his son William, on holiday (28th November 1999)
- Kreidler – Circles [YouTube] (23rd October 2000)
- Solomon Burke – Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye) (19th November 2000)
- White Stripes – Hello Operator (11th February 2001)
- Misty In Roots – Man Kind (30th January 2002)
- Half Man Half Biscuit – Blood On The Quad (30th August 2003)
- Dr. Venom – Mumra (19th November 2004 – the last track from a pre-recorded show which was to be broadcast whilst John was on holiday in Peru)
» Download (52mb / 56mins)
This is a tribute show which aired on the 29th October 2004. Mostly interviews and fan testimonials. Presented by Mark Coles, who notes that the BBC tribute site received more than a quarter of a million hits in the last four days, and 32,000 sent emails to the World Service. The tracks played are only extracts. [Peel Wiki]
Over on the Twitter I asked people to let me know if they were in a band that recorded a Peel Session. At the time of publication I’m tweeting out the mentions from the many, many of you who did. There’s one band though – Keshco who weren’t lucky enough to get a session, but in 2009 they recorded a track from their album called ‘Peel Intro’ which recreates the short wave radio broadcasts as heard above.
It’s good to know that years later even after his passing that the influence and memory of John Peel is still there.