Peel Sessions


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Peel Sessions Review

by Andy Kellman

Possibly the first in a series of BBC-related releases from David Gedge's chamber pop collective, John Peel Sessions compiles two full sessions for the BBC show, as well as two acoustic renditions from a Peel Acres visit and two additional performances from Peel's 60th birthday celebration. The first session, dating from mid-1998, preceded the release of Va Va Voom. Each of the four songs would turn up on the album, released a couple of weeks after the initial broadcast. Since Cinerama wasn't a full-blown "working band" entity at that point, the four tracks are a bit rough when compared to their studio counterparts. This becomes more apparent when listening to the following session, which seems to find the songs more road-tested. "Maniac" is the standout of the first session, remarkably slower -- and arguably more effective as a result -- than the version on Va Va Voom. The second session finds an immaculately rehearsed Cinerama, previewing two future B-sides and the lead track from 2000s Disco Volante. A strings-laden cover of the Turtles' "Elenore" is a nice surprise; given its baroque nature, it actually sounds more like a Left Banke tune. The live performances of "Kerry Kerry" and "Hard, Fast and Beautiful" from Peel's 60th birthday sound more like a rock band, with more emphasis on guitar. Surprisingly, who would have known in 1986 that Gedge would develop into a vocalist capable of the torch terrain evidenced at the beginning of "Hard, Fast and Beautiful"? As with Gedge's many BBC releases with the Wedding Present, this disc makes a worthy addition to any fan's collection. It also works well for those who haven't kept up with the Cinerama records, since it presents a good impression of what Gedge has been up to since the Weddoes were last heard from.

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