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Unearthing John Peel’s records

Legendary Producer Joe Boyd unearths treasures from John Peel’s record collection, including the recording that inspired Syd Barrett to take a fledgling Pink Floyd in a new and psychedelic direction and a rarer than rare Bob Dylan white label test pressing which, Joe argues, changed the face of music…

Six ground-breaking music artists have been given unprecedented access to John Peel’s record collection to create and curate a series of online “record boxes”, giving music fans the chance to explore deeper into one of the world’s most important record collections, and listen to high resolution recordings of the records themselves.
The new project, John Peel’s Record Boxes, launched on 15th of September and sees six record boxes curated and released over the next year, each as unique as its guest curator. As well as selecting records, curators – each personally invited to John’s house by his family – will be ‘contextualising the records’, providing first-hand knowledge of a record’s importance, what it meant to those at the time or how it has affected them personally.  

The first box is curated by the legendary producer Joe Boyd, who discovered and produced Pink Floyd as well as producing historic albums for the likes of Fairport Convention and Nick Drake. The treasures unearthed on Joe’s visit to the collection include the record which inspired Syd Barrett to take a fledgling Pink Floyd in a new and psychedelic direction, and a rarer than rare Bob Dylan white label test pressing which, Joe argues, changed the face of music. 

Joe Boyd recounted, “Once, I started looking though the shelves I kept on stumbling upon things, ‘Oh god he’s got this’, ‘Oh! I remember that… John’s record collection has always been a golden mountain in the distance so it’s an honour to finally be here.”

John Peel’s personal archive of music is one of the most important and eclectic in the world. The legendary Radio 1 presenter and broadcaster amassed an incredible collection of over 26,000 LPs, over 80,000 singles and many thousands of CDs and demo tapes.
This exciting new project also allows users to explore virtual record boxes record by record. They can listen to actual recordings of the records themselves and view high resolution scans of sleeves, letters, photos and press releases, all bringing this historic archive to life.

Each guest curator visits the archive and spends a day picking out a selection of meaningful or important LPs and singles. 
The day’s discoveries are documented in a video, which then forms part of the online record box. Each box is a unique self-contained ‘eco-system’ which will link out to other records within the archive and further information on artists, records and genres. 
John Peel’s Record Boxes has been commissioned by digital art website The Space, and launched by the John Peel Centre in the days following what would have been John’s 75th birthday.

The initial launch of the John Peel Archive in 2012 was the most popular project on the Space site, receiving nearly 120,000 unique visitors in 6 months – the highest of any project. 

The project is led by the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts (Stowmarket), along with project partners Eye Film and Television (Norwich), and web design company Klik (Norwich), who have been working closely with John’s wife and family to produce the archive and its content. The project has been funded by The Space and the John Peel Centre.

The Space is a free website for artists and audiences to create and explore exciting new art. They commission new talent and great artists from all art forms, creative industries, technical and digital backgrounds, through regular Open Calls and partnerships. Set up by the BBC and the Arts Council England. The Space is a free public space, a not-for-profit public service for artists and audiences around the world.

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