Diagram Brothers

The Peel Sessions

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A fine adjunct to LTM's reissue of Diagram Brothers' complete discography a few years previously, The Peel Sessions is unsurprisingly just that, three sessions total done for the legendary BBC disc jockey. In keeping with the general spirit of such compilations for other bands, it's a chance to hear the group in a slightly different guise, thanks to lineup changes or otherwise unrecorded material. The first session gained a number of repeat broadcasts and little wonder why; the four songs, with vocals slightly more to the fore than the eventual studio versions, all have an abrupt, immediate quality, tightly wound and wryly humorous in equal measure, especially "Bricks" and "There Is No Shower." It's also the only session featuring original bassist Jason Diagram, replaced by Andy Diagram for the rest of the group's career. Though the latter's signature trumpet is absent from the second session, he and the rest of the band carry their sharp, focused way through things, while singer Fraser Diagram on "Those Men in White Coats" sounds far less stressed than on the album. It's the third session that surprises the most: five otherwise unknown songs recorded shortly before the band called it a day in 1982. Featuring drum machines and synths in greater prominence alongside the original rock instrumentation as well as vocal layering that almost turns songs into dramatic mini-operas at points, songs like "Hey Dad!" and "The Expert" echo the Discordo EP as where the group might have gone next. Meanwhile, covers of "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" -- the latter starting as a clear goof on a bad performance and increasingly becoming even more obviously one, thanks to Fraser Diagram's intentionally awful nightclub patter -- make for even more bemused listening.

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