The Wedding Present

Complete Peel Sessions 1986-2004

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If you've waited for the inevitable all-encompassing box, opting to avoid the various forms of compilations tracking the Wedding Present's BBC sessions for the late, great John Peel -- or if you ever had a low-level panic attack wondering if there might've been an elusive 1991 volume between John Peel Sessions 1987-1990 and John Peel Sessions 1992-1995 -- you are now in luck (and indeed certain that there were no 1991 sessions). Containing six CDs in slimline cases and a thick booklet of text and photos, which are housed in a sturdy box, The Complete Peel Sessions contains the Wedding Present's nine proper Peel Sessions (from 1986 through 2004) and much more: their performances at Peel's 50th birthday celebration, the 1995 Phoenix Festival, BBC Sound City (1996), and the 1996 Reading Festival, as well as the three Peel Sessions of Ukrainian folk songs credited to their Ukrainians alter ego. The set is a proper history of the Wedding Present as much as it is a tribute to Peel, who adored the band. The highlights are nearly countless, and you can imagine the rush that must have come with tuning in to hear a performance of a new song before it was released -- a far cry from downloading a leaked track from a blog. Almost as importantly, those who felt let down by the lighter material of 1992's Watusi and 1995's Saturnalia (which, by some loyalists, were dealt an On Her Majesty's Secret Service-like degree of dismay) will likely gravitate toward the relatively vigorous versions of the albums' songs here. The live content that takes up the fourth through sixth discs isn't nearly as essential. It does have its flaws, and the quality of the recordings isn't always optimal, but the hardcore fans will no doubt eat up each and every second.

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