Monday, April 30, 2007


Peel Sessions 51

I know it's been out for just over a month now, blame it on snail mail, but it must not be forgotten that David Gedge and his glum band otherwise known as the Wedding Present were along with the Fall the archetypal post 1976 Peel band, a point borne out by the elevated number of Sessions recorded by both them and his following project Cinerama. The Complete Peel sessions is a 6 CD box set that dare I suggest might have been a more essential purchase if the 3 live discs had not been included as apart from the Peelie 50Th birthday bash the live sets are far from the bands best, recorded long after the bands high point of 'Bizarro' and 'Seamonsters' . There are two things that have grabbed my attention the first is that wonderfully grim up north style sleeve, that in many ways goes to sum up Gedges down to earthiness normal man vibe, though this of course could not be further from the truth as the ex schoolteacher is indeed a very bright and well informed man, I somewhat doubt that he has ever crossed the door of a bookies for example. His difference can further be seen by the songs that are amongst the most pleasing on this set, those of the three sessions of Ukrainian folk songs. Having already laid down 'Hopak', a song that they often played at sound checks, in November 1986, Pete Solowka suggested that they did something really radical and record a whole session of Ukrainian music. Radical it was as these were the days before the new folk revival, probably the only band doing something similar was the Pogues but they sung in English. And so it was with the help of fiddler Len Liggins that they recorded these 5 songs in October 1985:

1. 'Katrusya'
2. 'Svitt Misyats'
3. 'Tiutinyk'
4. 'Yikav Zozak Za Dunai'
5. 'Hude Dnipro Hude'

I guess you can't really get much further removed from cloth caps, whippets and mushy peas can you? The record buying public were obviously behind this project as when the first two sessions were compiled as 'Ukrainski Vistuosi v Johana Peela', the bands first release after signing to RCA, it's 40,000 sales were enough to put the it at 22 in the national album charts, the real one not the indie charts! Now this was good news as it frighted the shit out of daytime jocks who were genuinely worried that they might have to learn a foreign language. By 1991 Solowka had left the band and along with Liggins had turned the Ukrainians into a full time affair, I saw them in 1993 and they certainly provided you with a good night out. This departure led to the Wedding Present regrettably shutting the door on Eastern European folk music a shame really a bit colour up north goes down just fine.

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