For those of you who don’t know, never spent any time in the UK, never heard the BBC or never heard the name John Peel – I am so sorry, my deepest apologies. But – all the more reason to urge you to hit the play button and dive into this 2-hour Christmas feast of off-the-beaten-path Pop/Rock and Indie ; all with a Christmas theme that only John Peel could pull off.
Up until his untimely death fourteen years ago, John Peel was an institution in British Rock Radio – his droll style and his never-ending search for new and interesting music made him must-hear every night on BBC Radio 1 and then on BBC 6 Music. It was Peel who began booking unsigned bands and non-mainstream artists on his show and gave them much needed exposure. If anything, he served a the model for most College radio stations in the U.S. to emulate. If your station plays live sessions from local or visiting bands and artists, chances are the original idea came from John Peel. He did more to expose a wide audience to new talent than almost anyone on radio, before or since. His sessions have become legendary, and thanks to the hundreds of fans who slavishly stood over their tape machines each and every night to record some new discovery, we have a preserved legacy that maintains a level of freshness, even though some sessions are going on 50 years old. For myself, Peel sessions have become endless sources of discovery and a chance to hear bands who have gone on to achieve great career heights, to hear them during their formative period. There are hundreds of broadcasts and I try to offer as many during the average week as I possibly can.
John Peel performed a huge cultural service – he did much to further the cause of new music. And maybe some of it strained the ear-drums or was just plain awful, but it was all treated with respect and genuine fondness – and that makes it all worth listening to at least once.
But, in keeping with the holiday spirit, here is a John Peel special Christmas show, as it was broadcast on BBC Radio 1, December 21, 2000 – see how many songs you know and how many you’ve never heard before. It’s part of the fun and part of the reason John Peel became the institution he is today.
Crank it up and enjoy – 2 hours worth, right here – right now.