Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Peel slowly

Our favourite bit of that is with comedy grump Mark Lamarr in the background at 1:38.

John Peel died six years ago on Monday, as celebrated by the #keepingitpeel scheme - look at the recent post there for links to a ridiculous number of blogged Peel sessions and tribute posts. Among the non-audio contributions we particularly like Smash Hits resource Like Punk Never Happened digging out David Hepworth interviewing Peel for Smash Hits in 1979 ("The Eagles don't make mistakes, Genesis don't make mistakes and I don't want to listen to either of them again.")

Rhetorical beyond belief, we know, but where would Peel stand were he still alive? Would he still be on Radio 1? He was being pushed later in the schedule, we now know not exactly to his delight, but at the same time he was seen as a totemic presence for the station that tried to replace him for a while before realising they really couldn't. Maybe he'd have thought about his long time producer, close friend and spiritual guide John Walters, a month older, who died in 2001 in semi-retirement - Peel'd be 72 by now. But even if he'd stayed on there'd be everything else. The coincidental rise of the blogs and Myspace began in earnest in 2005, making every two-bit hack their own guide through the waters of new music if with far less a prospective domain. You can just picture him bemoaning the number of young bands who sent him links to their Myspace instead of tracks. Then again, the democratisation of music from around the world and across the spectrum would have excited him as much as it would have tired out a man who somehow balanced a healthy family life with spending all his other time listening to new music and acting as a small but worthy part of the nation's quality control, not really caring whether those he found would become big or do nothing else ever. Imagine how excited he'd be by dubstep, glitch or the indiepop revival. Imagine how he'd sort all that wheat from this chaff and come up with only the stuff he really excited him, which he would then present for the nation to hopefully expand their horizons to, linked in his singular style. What was it he summed his approach up as? "I just want to hear something I haven't heard before."

Speculation's all unfortunate pie in the sky, of course. But nobody's going to surprise you like that any more.

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