The Peel Sessions – a generation of great music (Rabbit Hole Warning!)

More than a generation, in fact, and gathered together on one website. I can find no evidence that this has been posted here before – if it has, I apologize.

As background for those who don’t know, the late, great John Peel was a BBC DJ who dedicated his life to promoting new music. Discovering Peel was a rite of passage in the UK, part of the process of transitioning to young adulthood. Peel’s radio shows would feature specially recorded sessions, very often from artists who were (at the time) new and unrecorded.

This website:

-has gathered together YouTube links to about a thousand of these sessions (all audio only). That Rabbit Hole Warning is for real. The majority of the artists are British.

Now, here’s another thing: the collection is a magnificent effort, but it’s far from complete. However, YouTube’s algorithms help out here. When you click on a link on the website, it opens a screen and autoplays a video (audio only) in some way I don’t understand; but if you click on the YouTube logo in the bottom right of this screen, it will open the video in YouTube proper. There are two advantages to this: first, in YouTube the text below the video includes info like a track listing; and second, YouTube’s algorithms can locate missing sessions. (Example: if I click on Buzzcocks 1978, YouTube also finds for me an unlisted 1977 session).

With that: happy researching. Enjoy!


For decades I loved John Peel - he had an unparalleled ear for emerging bands, and was able to get them into the studio - and I’m glad to see these collected. I do have to say however that the fact that he turned out to be a repeat predator does poison a lot of that for me, so I do want to acknowledge that this “rite of passage…to young adulthood” was different for some of the young women queuing up outside the studio.

Well, he wasn’t whiter than white; but then nobody from that era was. Not sure quite what you mean by repeat predator. But I’m sure I remember an interview in which he said something like, I still worry occasionally that a stranger will introduce themself as offspring.

It’s just another one of those cases, I guess, where we need to separate the person from their work.


Well, I won’t belabor it too much since this is a remarkable collection of music, but he was pretty gross.

I was a John Peel defender despite the allegations – this is what changed my mind | The Independent

Thanks for that - not a comfortable read.

Let’s just separate the work from the man and enjoy the music.


Ahh, the Papa John Phillips effect…

What a great resource. Thanks for the link!

Great link! As one of those kids who listened to the John Peel show through my teenage years, this takes me back to those wonderfully eclectic music shows full of new music and under appreciated artistes. He was one of the few DJs who respected music as an art form and he never talked over the tracks and allowed listeners to appreciate the music as it should be heard. That is the point, his show was all about the music.

What he got up to with the groupies is another matter, he certainly was not the worst. The dark side of the music business is full of monsters and scandals.

Here’s an update.

Following up on a post in the Cover Versions thread, I happened across this site:

(I’ve set this up to go straight to the sessions listing.)

This is the most comprehensive Peel session listing I have found. What it doesn’t do is link you directly to an online recording of a session (indeed, there may be no such recording available); but what it does do is allow you to see who recorded sessions, and when they recorded them.

From that point onwards, happy googling.


I’ve long been grateful for the show, for so many great artists to have a showcase with such wide distribution. Bands like Napalm Death and my beloved Bolt Thrower, for example, may well never have achieved the success they did without the exposure and impramentur provided by The Peel Sessions.

Thanks for the links, Trep!

You’re very welcome!