John Peel FabricLive. 07
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DJ legend John Peel's regular appearances at London's Fabric nightclub have never been any more predictable than the last 35 years of his BBC radio show. On air or in person, Peel has pursued a musical eclecticism that defies boundaries even as it, so inadvertently, has defined the "underground" for great swathes of his audience. It is no surprise whatsoever, then, to discover that his contribution to the FabricLive series of mix CDs is essentially a template for everything that his radio show offers. For 73 minutes, FabricLive.07 takes listeners on a journey through punk, reggae, soul, hip-hop, blues, garage -- pretty much any genre you can name, in fact -- with diversions via the odd musical hybrids that Peel alone seems able to sniff out and which his patronage alone lifts out of the novelty bracket: the Kingswoods' country-billy version of the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" and the Bad Livers' bluegrass "Lust for Life" both subdue their innate absurdity with gravity-defying authenticity. Retaining another long-cherished Peel trademark, there are few tricks of the DJ trade on board -- beyond slapping some brutal echo onto the end of the Fall's "Mr Pharmacist" and the occasional inserted snatches of soccer commentary, he has made no attempt at remixing, preferring to allow the individual songs' own juxtapositions to speak for themselves. So, a Peel session cut of Culture's "Lion Rock" leads into the Northern soul classic "Tom the Peeper," which slips in turn into Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," and suddenly it's hard to imagine hearing them in any other way. With the music so firmly stamped with Peel's personality, longtime listeners could probably identify this collection's compiler without even glancing at the credits. Just in case there's any confusion, though, a handful of intrusions do confirm Peel's presence at the controls: the aforementioned soccer commentaries, of course; the roar of the Kop Choir, fellow supporters of his hometown Liverpool F.C club, bellowing out "You'll Never Walk Alone"; and, wrapping up the CD, the effervescent dynamism of the Undertones' "Teenage Kicks," a song that Peel himself has declared among the greatest ever made. One does wonder how he was able to decide, though.