New John Peel compilation spans 5 decades

Incredibly, it has already been five years since the passing of John Peel, arguably the most important and influential radio broadcaster in the history of popular music, and certainly the only man to follow Shitspitter with Lightnin' Hopkins on mainstream radio.

Although a whole generation of teenagers has now grown up without being exposed to Peel's wonderful eclecticism and dishelved charm, a new four-disc compilation entitled Kats Karavan - released 26 October on Universal - aims to chart the history of his radio shows across five decades from the 1960s right up to 2004.

Drawing material right up until Peel's last ever Festive Fifty, Kats Karavan includes music from a bewildering array of genres and a mixture of big names and cult concerns from Extreme Noise Terror, to Aswad, to Bloc Party.

Rarities and curiosities include the Free track, Walk In My Shadow, which 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.

To further recreate the spirit and mood of a John Peel radio show, some clips of John's own links appear from time to time, including classic references to playing records at the wrong speed that will be familiar to many regular listeners.

Kats Karavan comes complete with artwork featuring rare and unseen photographs alongside personal recollections from many of the featured artists.

Maida Vale for sale?

In related news, Maida Vale studios, where many legendary Peel sessions from Elton John to Nirvana were committed to tape, is set to be sold by the BBC, despite plans to celebrate the facility's 75th anniversary with a series of performances from artists as wide-ranging as Jamie Cullum and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa on 30 October.

Last weekend, a BBC spokeswoman confirmed that though "there are no immediate plans" to get rid of the studios, the long-term intention is to "dispose of Maida Vale". Given the studio's considerable heritage, it would be sad to see its demise.

Buy Kats Karavan here: Amazon |

Chris Vinnicombe worked with us here on the MusicRadar team from the site's initial launch way back in 2007, and also contributed to Guitarist magazine as Features Editor until 2014, as well as Total Guitar magazine, amongst others. These days he can be found at Gibson Guitars, where he is editor-in-chief.