John Peel's Record Collection
May 1, 2012 6:43 AM   Subscribe

John Peel's Record Collection "Online interactive digital museum" The Space has begun the mammoth task of digitising DJ John Peel's record collection. Now, nearly 8 years after his death, the first 100 albums under the letter A are ready, with a new letter to be released every week. With bonus content such as photos, Peel Sessions and samples of radio shows (Spotify may be required for some audio), it's a fascinating look inside the great man's never-ending enthusiasm for music.
posted by jontyjago (31 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's pretty slick. Is there more information other than just the names of the bands and the albums? Between NoScript and other blockers I sometimes can't tell whether the lack of functionality is in the site or on my end.
posted by OmieWise at 6:50 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Beyond images and track listings, about half of have Spotify, Soundcloud or iTunes links to listen / preview / buy the music - there's no streaming as yet. It also seems to lack any sort of categorisation beyond alphabetical order, still early days though.
posted by jontyjago at 7:05 AM on May 1, 2012


Some may hate it, but I LOVE the interface for browsing the albums. I can actually read the spines of the records, then on mouseover I get more information. That's beautiful and excellent.
posted by hippybear at 7:14 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


When the collection is complete, I really hope they introduce a randomise button.

The joy of Peel wasn't just stumbling on obscure Eastern European garage bands (I know that's the standard Peel cliche). It was also him playing new gems from bands that had long become unfashionable or dismissed by the music media as unworthy, that perhaps you would otherwise overlook.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 7:24 AM on May 1, 2012


I never before realized how much the younger Peel looked remarkably like a friend of mine or how much the older Peel looked like "the old guy at the show."

(I mean that entirely good-naturedly. These days, I am an "old guy at the show.")
posted by octobersurprise at 7:32 AM on May 1, 2012


Oh. My. God.

John Peel’s personal record collection consists of over 26,000 LPs, 40,000 singles and many thousands of CDs.

I have two questions: how many are rarities or stone-cold lost classics.
Why didn't they count the CDs?

I'm struggling to use the interface just now, but this is going to keep me busy forever. I've gleaned so much from his Festive 50 in recent years, and the Peel Sessions are some of my must-haves.
posted by Mezentian at 7:38 AM on May 1, 2012


This is going to be something I'll be coming back to for ages. What a man he was.

So DJs rip up your playlists,
Remember better stuff exists
Now that he has left us how'll
We save the world from Simon bloody Cowell?
Let's have a minute's racket,
Though he isn't coming coming back it
Seems we understand the need
To play something loud and at the wrong speed 'cos
A minute's silence wouldn't show him how we feel,
Let's have a minute's noise for Peel.


-- Mitch Benn, "A Minute's Noise For John"
posted by ZsigE at 7:42 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why didn't they count the CDs?

Not sure. Too many CDRs sent by bands to enable easy counting? The collection apparently had somewhat idiosyncratic archiving practices during Peel's lifetime.

I do know that Peel was no great fan of using CDs on his radio show, not, I think, out of any particular notion of sonic purity, but because they used to skip on him. I remember a wonderful 90s on-air rant about how "me and Mary Anne [Hobbs]" had to put up with using CD players, while other DJs had been equipped with access to minidisc. He summed up his feelings with the succinct "and quite frankly they are shit."

Sniff.
posted by howfar at 8:03 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Buuuuutttt seeeerriiiiooooouuuussslllllyyyy,,,, rrreeessssooourrrrceeesss liiiiii-...

Sorry, started that comment at the wrong speed.

But seriously, resources like this, the Peel Sessions, the recordings of his shows, and the many bands he helped make A Thing are all part of the almost incomprehensibly rich legacy he left behind. Here's hoping this is the first step to that legacy reaching some of the people who... jesus, weren't even listening to music when he died!
posted by Drexen at 8:04 AM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


*swoon*
posted by shakespeherian at 8:04 AM on May 1, 2012


I remember hearing a story by someone in a band who bumped into/stalked John Peel in a carpark after a gig, looking for the big break.

He had a demo tape on him, and pressed it into JP's hand. JP opened the boot of his car - full of tape cassettes - and added to the pile.
posted by Kiwi at 8:06 AM on May 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd download that torrent.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:08 AM on May 1, 2012


Est. time remaining: Eleventy billion years
posted by shakespeherian at 8:10 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Peel wrote in his autobiography, Margrave of the Marshes, that the band of which he owned the most records was The Fall. Regulars in the Festive 50, and easily recognised by vocalist Mark E. Smith's distinctive delivery, The Fall became synonymous with Peel's Radio 1 show through the 1980s and 1990s.

And thank goodness for the 6+ hours of often-times superior takes than the album cuts, stuff that didn't see the light of day for ages ("Words of Expectation"), and works in progress.

Terrible to die at 65 when he still had a finely-honed ear and razor-sharp bullshit detector.

In 2004, Lightning Bolt played on the doorstep of radio DJ John Peel's chalet at noon during the All Tomorrow's Parties festival, about which neighbor Steve Albini of Shellac and Big Black commented "Best alarm clock I've ever had."
posted by porn in the woods at 8:31 AM on May 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Doubtless half of these videos wont work in your region but for random sounds (from the festive top 50 over the years).
posted by duffers5000 at 8:47 AM on May 1, 2012


Doubtless half of these videos wont work in your region but for random sounds (from the festive top 50 over the years).
posted by duffers5000 at 8:49 AM on May 1, 2012


right I'm going to learn how to post a link until then its www.peelplayer.com if anyones interested !
posted by duffers5000 at 8:51 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So does the first link crap out for anybody else, or is it just me? (Opera &IE, Windows 7)
posted by MartinWisse at 8:51 AM on May 1, 2012


It crapped out the first two times I hit it, but then I got in. The interface is a little screwed; I love the album view, but it's hard to navigate between the videos and the album view without coming back here. And the videos are out of sync with the sound most of the time. Not sure why people feel obligated to keep reinventing the wheel there.

I do like mousing along the rows.

I wonder where the rest of the albums are, because if that's all he's got for the As, there's no way it's 46,000.
posted by Fnarf at 9:08 AM on May 1, 2012


I wonder where the rest of the albums are, because if that's all he's got for the As, there's no way it's 46,000.

It seems, from this article, and looking at the selection, that we're going to see the first 100 cards, alphabetically, from each letter. So this takes us from "a-" through to "ad", leaving the rest of "ad" to "az" unrevealed. So we're going to see about a tenth of the collection in the next six months. Presumably the hope is to build the profile to help access further funding.
posted by howfar at 9:46 AM on May 1, 2012


In that case it will take an age to get to "U"
posted by Kiwi at 9:54 AM on May 1, 2012


So, are there any non-Brits who have any clue who John Peel was or what this is about?
posted by epo at 10:38 AM on May 1, 2012


Epo: Yes, and yes.
posted by user92371 at 11:29 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


are there any non-Brits who have any clue who John Peel was or what this is about?

Oh, sure. I didn't listen to Peel's show regularly until 2000 or so, whenever the BBC started streaming it online, but I knew who he was long before that, had heard bootlegged World Service shows, knew about the Peel Sessions, owned some of them on CD. In the States, at least in my circles, John Peel was more of legendary figure than one listened to (unless you had World Service), but if you were a music nerd, you definitely knew who he was.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:32 AM on May 1, 2012


So, are there any non-Brits who have any clue who John Peel was or what this is about?

Yup.
posted by OmieWise at 12:20 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Peel’s personal record collection consists of over 26,000 LPs, 40,000 singles and many thousands of CDs.

Sure, but if you take out The Fall and The Wedding Present, those numbers drop to 9,324 LPs, 14,603 singles and a couple of thousand CDs.
posted by otters walk among us at 12:29 PM on May 1, 2012


I assumed AC Marias would be in there (best video ever).
posted by GeorgeBickham at 1:50 PM on May 1, 2012


are there any non-Brits who have any clue who John Peel was or what this is about?

Not a single one. The Peel Sessions were in no way ubiquitous, must-have items if you were into a certain type of music and lived far, far away living off a diet of "hot-off-the-ship" three-month-old copies of the NME and Melody Maker.

And if you were, there was no way that an obscure radio DJ from a small, wet island off the coast of Europe could ever become accessible on the Internet.

And there are not massive of Peel-related torrents either.
No, there are not.
posted by Mezentian at 5:56 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


> So, are there any non-Brits who have any clue who John Peel was or what this is about?

Oh, only those rare few with an interest in, um, any of the bands that he championed. None of whom have vast numbers of obsessive fans, of course.
posted by desuetude at 8:49 PM on May 1, 2012


Mezentian: "are there any non-Brits who have any clue who John Peel was or what this is about?"

I only found out about him a couple of years before he died. I've only listened to him a couple of times, but after reading about him extensively and listening to some of the bands he launched (and their Peel sessions), he has changed my frame of reference to music immeasurably.

Mostly, I'm less snobbish and dismissive about music than I used to be. If I find I don't like something on first listen, my first thought is, "what would Peel have found to like about this?" Eventually I learn to enjoy it for its own sake.

He's made my life much more rich and fun.
posted by vanar sena at 9:38 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, are there any non-Brits who have any clue who John Peel was or what this is about?

There's Steve Albini: "One of the things that made John Peel so valuable was that he had decades of archived material and sessions of bands that had played live and were only ever heard on the John Peel show. His work ethic was absolutely incredible. He made it a point of pride to listen to every record that anyone sent him. He would listen literally to dozens of records a day. He said something once that I thought was really profound: He said that no one would bother making a record and sending it to him if they thought it was shitty. Obviously, to the people making those records, they are important. If he doesn't get it as a listener, if he didn't like it in some way, that's his fault, not the fault of the people who did something important to them. That's a pretty amazing, humble insight for someone like him to have."
posted by dng at 3:26 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


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