Given the opportunity and infinite time and snacks and beer within reach, whose record collection would you most like to peruse? If the answer is anything other than John Peel you are undeserved of the following news – The Space project together with the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts are digitising a respectable fraction of the late great DJ’s impossibly large personal music catalogue.
His wife and patron for the centre Sheila Ravenscroft gives a quick breakdown of the collection as being in excess of 26,000 albums and “no idea how many singles there are or CDs” – around 40,000 it turns out. For the next 26 weeks, the first 100 records of each letter of the alphabet will be available for all to see. As well as being digitised, the records themselves serve as insights into Peel’s own curation and opinion of the music; type-written file cards, in alphabetical order, cross-referenced by the records which are arranged by number (!) as well as notes and starred tracks appearing on the sleeves themselves.
It’s a heavy and important collection – one of the most singularly eclectic in the world – and it induces a huge lump of affection for all the bodies involved in bringing it together (including the BBC and Arts Council England) because John Peel’s legacy – the sessions, the radio shows, the inimitable knowledge – is a national bloody treasure.
The letter “A” was released today, so that is more than enough for you to be getting on with on this, the best May Day ever.