This was the press release at the time:
Kats Karavan is a splendid 4-CD set charting the history of John Peel’s iconoclastic shows spanning 5 decades from the late 1960s until his sad and untimely death in 2004. Champion of the obscure and unheard, he introduced whole generations of teenagers to new music and gave hundreds of bands their first mainstream broadcasts.
Incredibly, 5 years have already passed since John’s death and a whole new generation is already growing up without knowing what it’s like to listen to a DJ who would play Bloc Party, followed by Ivor Cutler, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, then Bong-Ra, Linton Kwesi Johnson followed by The Misunderstood. Universal Music, with the full approval of John’s family, has undertaken the unenviable task of trying to recreate one of John’s shows on this 4-CD box set.
It has been a mammoth and difficult challenge. How could anyone fit generations of listeners’ favourite sessions, singles or anecdotes onto 4 discs? There is no Undertones, no Joy Division, no Chameleons, to name but three Peel favourites who don’t appear here but all have already appeared extensively on previous Peel compilations. So wide-reaching and eclectic was John’s passion for music that this compilation could have been made ten times over without even touching the sides of his shows.
Drawing material right up until John’s last ever Festive Fifty, Kats Karavan includes big players, one-hit wonders, chart toppers and those who stayed at the lower reaches. It includes tracks from the likes of Small Faces, Thin Lizzy, Aswad, The Damned, Medicine Head, The Jam, The Slits, Funboy Five, The Cure, Linton Kwesi Johnson, That Petrol Emotion, Extreme Noise Terror, Ivor Cutler, Mercury Rev, Milo, Bloc Party and many, many more.
The set also includes some rarities and curiosities. The Free track, Walk In My Shadow, 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.
There is also track from The Misunderstood, the only band that John ever managed and who performed one of John’s all-time favourite gigs:
“If I had to list the ten great performances I’ve seen in my life, one would be The Misunderstood at Pandora’s Box, Hollywood, 1966. My god, they were a great band!” (John Peel)
John supplies backing vocals on the Altered Images track, their cover of Neil Diamond’s Song Sung Blue, his only appearance on record.
To further recreate the spirit and mood of one of John’s shows, some clips of John’s own links appear from time to time. None of his ‘chat’ has been kept by the BBC so the record label used extracts of the best of what they were able to find on old cassette tapes, cleaning them up for the CD set, where they work to great effect.
Kats Karavan comes complete with artwork featuring rare and unseen photographs alongside personal recollections from many of the featured artists, who were only too delighted to contribute and be involved in this homage to the late, great John Peel.
The release has it’s own website – that can be found here.