Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Keeping It Peel

As the boards of London's Evening Standard read seven years ago, today was "the day the music died." On Oct. 25, 2004, we lost legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel at the less-than-ripe age of 65. Since then, many in and out of the music world have chosen to mark this day with a celebration of his life and work. Many on this side of the pond know him only from our favorite "Peel Sessions." During his 37 years at the station, more than 2,000 artists participated in 4,000-plus Peel recordings. Peel would (usually) record four tracks from the band and mix it the same day. Most of the bands I liked would sound louder, rougher and faster than they did on my albums, and I always imagined everyone in the room, including Peel, with big smiles on their faces.

Keeping It Peel - October 25thI'm an American that lived abroad for a couple of years nearly two decades ago. In an age before the popularity of the Internet and in a place with very little Western influence, my only English-language connection was the BBC World Service on my tiny shortwave radio. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon Peel's show one day. I knew all about him, but I don't think I had ever actually heard him before. He not only introduced me to a bevy of new bands but, more importantly, his warm delivery made me feel like I had a friend during a period when I felt pretty isolated from the rest of the world.

Webbie over at Football and Music has organized Keeping It Peel, a chance for bloggers and social media users to remember the late great Peel, and I'm proud to be a part of it. For my "Peel Sessions" selections, I'm going with an old favorite and my latest acquisition.

For at least the second time (the first being in 1977), XTC had an appearance on Peel's show. It was broadcast on Oct. 15, 1979. It can be found on the out-of-print 'Drums and Wireless'. Incidentally, I bought this one in 1994 at Import Yamachiku in Kanazawa, Japan, during the very same spell I was a regular listener of Peel's show. Yes, when it comes to record purchases, I'm a savant. As for my second selection, a couple of weeks ago I finally picked up the deluxe edition of one of my all-time favorite albums. The 22-track bonus disc of The Housemartins' 'London 0 Hull 4' was completely worth the $30 I shelled out for it. Enjoy two songs from John Peel's program, circa June 4, 1986.

XTC - Opening Speech (mp3) (Impersonation by Andy Partridge)
XTC - Real by Reel (mp3)
XTC - Ten Feet Tall (mp3)
XTC - Roads Girdle the Globe (mp3)

The Housemartins - Happy Hour (mp3)
The Housemartins - Get Up Off Our Knees (mp3)

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