Billy Childish

The XFM Sessions

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John Kennedy is a disc jockey and on-air host for the British radio outlet XFM. Anyone who puts Billy Childish on the radio on a regular basis must know something, and this disc -- featuring material from four appearances Childish made on Kennedy's show in 2001 and 2002 -- confirms his judgment about quality rock & roll. The disc leads off with a seven-song set Billy and his band the Buff Medways recorded at a club gig, with an audibly enthusiastic audience in attendance (perhaps too enthusiastic in the case of one drunken fan who bellows at length before "ATV"), and the presence of a full band and a revved-up crowd helps make these the best songs on the disc, including several rugged Childish originals and distinctive covers of "Hound Dog" and "John the Revelator." The other eight tunes come from various in-studio sessions with makeshift bands backing up Childish (Graham Coxon of Blur plays drums on three songs), though his sloppy but emphatic neo-garage attack carries the day throughout, and his commitment to expressive primitivism shines bright on "Punk Rock Ich Nicht Tot," "What You Got," and a stripped-to-the-frame take of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire." When Kennedy asks the crowd if they want to hear some life-affirming rock & roll, there's little arguing that Billy Childish can deliver the goods, and if this isn't one of his great records, it's certainly good, loud, inspiring fun.

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