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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Under the Influence – Part II - John Peel

Few people have informed and influenced the music that I love as much as the late, great John Peel. I used to go to great lengths to hear his radio program via their BBC’s Short Wave World Service. Music was clearly his passion in life and somewhere in that deadpan delivery and magnificent voice I found a kindred spirit that would enliven and flame that very fervor within myself. Champion of the obscure and unheard, he introduced the world to new music and gave hundreds of bands their first mainstream exposure. I understood only too well that same thrill of opening the shrink wrap on a new LP or dropping the needle on a new Undertones 45. I anxiously awaited his annual Festive Fifty as much as any carefully wrapped Christmas present...

I really miss John Peel. Christmastime definitely just not the same, but this year it just got a little better… News today that the release of Kats Karavan a 4-CD deluxe set is on the way. The collection charting the history of John Peel’s iconoclastic shows spanning five decades from the late 1960s until his untimely death in the fall of 2004.

Incredibly, five years have already passed since John’s death and a whole new generation is already growing up without knowing what it’s like to listen to a DJ who would play Bloc Party, followed by Ivor Cutler, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, then Bong-Ra, Linton Kwesi Johnson followed by The Misunderstood. Universal Music, with the full approval of John’s family, has undertaken the unenviable task of trying to recreate one of John’s shows on this 4-CD box set.

Drawing material right up until John’s last ever Festive Fifty, Kats Karavan includes big players, one-hit wonders, chart toppers and those who stayed at the lower reaches. It includes tracks from the likes of Small Faces, Thin Lizzy, Aswad, The Damned, Medicine Head, The Jam, The Slits, Funboy Five, The Cure, Linton Kwesi Johnson, That Petrol Emotion, Extreme Noise Terror, Ivor Cutler, Mercury Rev, Milo, Bloc Party and many, many more.

The set also includes some rarities and curiosities. The Free track, Walk In My Shadow, was considered lost by the BBC until it was recently discovered on some old reel to reel tapes. This is the first time it has ever been available and the first time it’s been heard since the original broadcast.

Kats Karavan comes complete with artwork featuring rare and unseen photographs alongside personal recollections from many of the featured artists, who were only too delighted to contribute and be involved in this homage to the late, great John Peel.
Kats Karavan will be released as a 4-CD set on October 26th.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

It must have been an near overwhelming task to compile that box set. I imagine it will bring back a lot of memories to a whole league of Peel fans who still can't quite believe that he is gone.

Allison said...

I remember getting into The Smiths through hearing a John Peel session with them. I box set is sure to be a big seller.

Sean Wraight said...

Barbara - I really do miss him Barbara. His dulcet voice was a huge comfort to me that I never tired of. He was the one that literally made me excited about new music. There are times I hear a new song and the first thing that comes to mind. WWJPT (What Would John Peel Think?)

Allison - I still have some of those sessions on various media floating around my collection. They are little treasures to me. This box set will be like the motherlode for me. I hope it does him justice.