Gilles Peterson

The BBC Sessions, Vol. 1

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Gilles Peterson had been the host of the BBC's Worldwide Show for roughly five years when this collection of live-in-the-studio recordings was released. During that period he had adopted a practice somewhat like that of the legendary John Peel, who had become famous in the 1980s for inviting cutting-edge pop, punk, and new wave bands to come play live broadcasts in the Maida Vale studios; the resulting EPs and compilations subsequently became staples in the record collections of many Generation Xers. Peterson's take on the same approach yielded this generously packed, if quite uneven, two-disc collection of live tracks by the likes of the Roots, N.E.R.D., Roisin Murphy, and Amp Fiddler. The program leans heavily toward progressive hip-hop and nu-jazz, and the best of the performances are impressive indeed: Björk (OK, so it isn't all nu-jazz and hip-hop) delivers a brilliant beatbox-accompanied performance on "Who Is It," Matthew Herbert's "Audience" is excellent as well, and the Roots' rendition of "Melting Pot" is a masterpiece, a triumph of high-energy, organic live hip-hop. Unfortunately, the highlights are outnumbered by such pedestrian fare as Beck's enervated "Round the Bend," Steve Reid and Four Tet's abstract and self-indulgent "Knives and Forks," and Cody Chestnut's egregiously nasty and lyrically ridiculous "The Seed." But rip the best ones to your iPod and you'll be grooving along happily for at least an hour.

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