The Passage

BBC Sessions

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The one album not released by the band during its original lifetime, BBC Sessions is just that, consisting of three separate sessions recorded for the inestimable John Peel during the early '80s. Perhaps the session most of interest to well-steeped Passage fans is the first, due to the presence of Lizzy Johnson, whose brief stint as the band's lead singer could arguably have created its highlight. Had Johnson stuck with the group (or vice versa), her abilities as a strong singer interpreting Dick Witts' brusque, direct takes on deep emotion and sexual passion could have yet won her and the group a higher profile. At once conventionally tuneful and sharp as needed, she brings a cool but vivid passion to such songs as "Dark Times" and the rollicking (of sorts) "Shave Your Head," while the version of "Devils and Angels," dripping with tension and a grand arrangement, is definitive. The other two sessions are fine enough; the second featured only Witts and Andrew Wilson acting as a duo in between For All and None and Degenerates days, with the highlights being the part-murky, part-merry skip of "Form and Void" and the giddy mix of bells, booming drums, and scraggly Fall guitar on "Man of War." The third session kicks off with a great romp through "A Day," practically crackling with a barely restrained explosiveness even as Witts delivers his lines with an easy grace (at least until the end), while "Empty Words" demonstrates the band's amazing mastery of varied, fascinating percussion. As an extra bonus, three demos from the band's last days are also included on the LTM reissue series: alternate takes of "Angleland," "Clear As Crystal," and "Dogstar"."

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