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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, October 26, 2004
    John Peel - Rest in Noise
     
    Thanks, John, for everything.

    James Dean Bradfield says that in the eighties Peel gave him access to music you just couldn't otherwise hear in Cardiff. I'd go along with that, for the eighties was my peak Peel listening era, and Cardiff the place where night after night I'd have my boundaries stretched by listening to his show.

    I've still got some of the tapes I made those nights, deep into the small hours mixing Steinski and Mass Media into Bogshed into Half Man Half Biscuit into the ubiquitous Fall. I'll always have that happy memory of Peel reacting with suitable rage to the request I handed to him at a Uni club event. I'd written it on the back of an Everton FC team photo. He chucked it across the mixing desk in disgust.

    He had crap taste in football teams. But years on I've still got the utmost respect for the man's musical vision. Steve Lamaq caught it well at the top of tonight's R1 tribute show (though, slow to the chase these days, I missed the record button). He said stuff about Peel being so good at championing the unpromising, the peripheral, the extreme. How right. And what grace and glory there was in all that. In giving a break to the beautiful crazies who would massively alter our lives: Smith, Sharkey, Morrissey, Bragg, Cobain, Bolan, Curtis, Beefheart. From where I was sitting it always seemed that Peel had the ears to hear what the Spirit was saying to the zeitgeist.

    What I've taken most from John Peel's attitude, into my own musical journey, is an endless enjoyment of musicians who display rawness and energy and innovation. Risk-takers. Whatever their genre. Whatever their 'ability'. To honour his memory, all I can do is keep on searching for music that stretches my boundaries.