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Comrades From The North

The recent unexpected death of John Peel was a sad loss for those of us who have lived through the musical soundscape he has provided in the UK and beyond for these past 40 years. In the 1960's the UK was particularly poorly served by the BBC's meagre diet of musical output. We could only dream of the provision in the US as we searched the musical airwaves beyond the BBC tuning in to the fluctuating signals from distant Radio Luxembourg and the pirate stations. When the BBC finally caught on it was Peel who did it for us. Peel played all of the stuff which people at large regarded as weird or off-the-wall and his shows were eagerly anticipated. Having only met him once, long ago in the late 1960's, and having only engaged in a snatched conversation about the "difficult" third albums by the Velvet Underground and Ultimate Spinach, we can lay no personal claim to having known him at all. Yet he was part of what we were and where we were going

There are very few people about whom that can truthfully be said. But Dylan is one such person and his continuing legacy has left indelible marks in the cavalcade of musical achievement. Dylan has made his mark by writing and making music and Peel left his mark by playing music but both of them have gone beyond that work and into the fabric of how we got from here to there, the journeys we have all made and the people we have become. You don't have to know a person for that to be true but you do have to relate to their work. Peel famously said that he preferred not to meet the musicians he admired because he might well be disappointed. There are many who probably feel the same way. In later years, Peel was not always kind to Dylan. His review of the 1987 London shows was scathing and that was only after hearing the first three songs! But he was honest and earnest and we must all be thankful for that. As for Dylan he is still shaping his legacy, refining his craft and with each year his musical tattoo becomes ever deeper.

And now, of course, he has chosen to tell us all about that in the first volume of his autobiography, Chronicles. He presents a rich tapestry of the screen-shots of his life and this much-praised work is fascinating and essential. Beg, steal or borrow it.

On a personal note, it is with deep sadness that we mark the death of Penny Garner. Penny was the partner of our friend, the late John Bauldie and we spent a number of pleasant times with both her and John. She was instantly likeable, welcoming and supportive and a warm and humourous person. We will miss her.

And to each of you, may you climb on every rung ..........

Mike and John

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