John Peel Record Collection Goes Live On The Web!

For many music lovers "of a certain age", whether you were in the US or the UK, legendary British DJ John Peel was a trusted musical confidante who seemingly knew your tastes better than you did. When he said words to the effect of "I think this is something you'll really like", he was rarely, if ever, wrong.

That's why is untimely passing - okay, he could have lived to the ripe old age of 310 and I still would still consider his passing untimely - shook many of us to our foundation. I remember feeling the same sadness I have felt for beloved family members as I did upon hearing the news that Peel had passed away from a heart attack at the age of 65.

In the eight years since he passed - yes, it has really been that long - Peel's "carbon footprint" on a generation or two of discerning music geeks remains strong. Anytime I hear the word Peel, I think of him. Anytime I listen to any number of favorite bands that he either championed or, at the very least, turned me on to, I whisper a little "Thank you" to the heavens.

Of course, I whispered a quite louder one yesterday, May 1, when John Peel's estate made available the first chapter in an exhaustive project that will ultimately see John Peel's entire record collection made available online. Mind you, you can listen to the available albums through Spotify and iTunes.

They began with the "A" section. I wondered how they were going to choose to unveil each set of albums. Alphabetically seems odd, especially as I consider the great number of bands near the tail-end of the alphabet in the "R", "S" and "T" sections.

Upon first diving in, I was pleasantly delighted (not surprised) to see that he had the first album by The A's. They remain one of the most criminally underrated bands to be lumped into the classic late 70's power pop phenomenon. Truth be told, it is these sorts of albums and bands that John had such a keen ability to find. Since this was WAY before the internet, Peel was the person who heard all the albums I saw in the store racks and the magazines, but could not afford to buy sight-unseen, although I did do that occasionally.

What's most insightful is the 30-minute documentary that you can watch via the above link. It was filmed to commemorate his 50th anniversary, but never aired until now. In it, we see a portrait of a man whose honesty and integrity are evident in every facet of his life. As a hero, he has every right to disappoint those of us who get a glimpse behind the curtain, but he did not.

If you were a fan of Peel's, or arrived to late to partake of his genius, I urge you to check out the wonderful musical world of John Peel. The documentaries made for some of his favorite albums, divided by each letter of the alphabet will help make the journey more enjoyable.

You will more than likely find, or be reminded of, his unabashed and genuine love for left-of-center pop music.

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