Posts Tagged ‘John Peel’

See the source image

On the surface, this isn’t as essential a release as other BBC John Peel sessions LPs. Because the Cocteau Twins used drum machines, the backing tracks and the rhythms replicate the known versions much more than other bands forced to record live in the studio. Yet these BBC John Peel Sessions is still a whopper of a treat for fans and the uninitiated, A sound that builds and builds until one is overcome with unspeakable, barely understood emotions  as Elizabeth Fraser starts to blossom into one of the most riveting voices to ever blow air into a mic.

The original members were Elizabeth Fraser (vocals), Robin Guthrie (guitar, drum machine) and Will Heggie (bass guitar), who was replaced by Simon Raymonde (also bass guitar) early in the band’s career.
These BBC Sessions were released as an an album of BBC studio recordings by the band The Cocteau Twins released in 1999 by Bella Union in the UK and Rykodisc in the US. The album spanned the band’s career from the early 1980s through the 1990s. Taken from a series of early 1980s Peel sessions. Throughout most of the Eighties, Peel made favourable comments on the band in interviews.

The band were discovered by Peel when they sent demo tapes to him and the 4AD label. After hearing the demo, Peel invited the group to do a session for his show in 1982. The 4AD label heard the track and signed them. Peel would play their songs throughout most of the Eighties, although by the time the band released their 1988 ‘Blue Bell Knoll’ album, his interest appeared to have waned. At the end of 1988, Peel’s listeners voted their track ‘Carolyn Fingers’ in the 1988 Festive Fifty, despite the DJ not playing any tracks from the album throughout the year.

John Peel Session, 15th July 1982

“Alas Dies Laughing” – 3:29
“Feathers-Oar-Blades” – 2:19
“Garlands” – 4:19
“Wax and Wane” – 3:50

John Peel Session, 31st January 1983

“Hearsay Please” – 4:23
“Dear Heart” – 3:37
“Blind Dumb Deaf” – 3:41
“Hazel” – 3:22

John Peel Session, 4th October 1983

“Strange Fruit” (Billie Holiday cover written by Abel Meeropol) – 1:52
“From the Flagstones” – 3:
“The Tinderbox (Of A Heart)” – 4:46
“Hitherto” – 3:57

In 1984 Peel included ‘From The Flagstones’ by the Cocteaus in his selections for “My Top Ten” and discussed the band with Andy Peebles. Cocteau Twins – From the Flagstones .Well, this is my favourite record of last year. And they were one of those bands again, like when I first heard them I thought, “Great, I’m glad I lived long enough to hear this.” My favourite record of last year, The Cocteau Twins and From The Flagstones. It’s a very, very pleasant voice actually. I like listening to that. Well, I like the extreme voices. I was just thinking that. Over the years it has always been people who have got the really idiosyncratic voices that I like Beefheart, Marc Bolan, Rod Stewart, Elizabeth Frazer of the Cocteaus, Mark Smith of The Fall people like them.

John Peel Session, 5th September 1984

“Pepper Tree”
“Whisht [Beatrix]”
“Peep-Bo [Ivo]”

See the source image

PunkRock/goth four piece Siouxsie and the Banshees were formed in 1976: Siouxsie Sioux (nee Susan Ballion) (vocals) and Steve Severin (bass) were the constant members of an aggregation that in its best-remembered line-up included John McKay (guitar) and Kenny Morris (drums). Siouxsie had been one of the hangers-on present during the Sex Pistols interview with Bill Grundy. Into this abnormally chaotic adolescence came the Sex Pistols. She latched on to the nascent punk movement and was one of the most visible members of the Bromley Contingent (along with future collaborator Steve Severin) and one of the first people visibly affected by the wave of energy emanating from punk.

Just a few months before this notorious TV appearance, Malcolm Maclaren prompted her to get The Banshees together with Severin on bass, Marco Pirroni (soon to be an Ant) on guitars and a young, John Ritchie (soon to be Sid Vicious) on drums. Apart from Pirroni, who was already a competent song writer and a good guitarist, it was a case of ‘God help us if there’s a war’ as they played a 20-minute improvised version of the Lord’s Prayer at the 100 Club. But 12 months after the Today appearance, everything had changed. With Pirroni departed to join Merrick, Terry, Lee, Gary Tibbs and his truly and Vicious already enjoying short tenure with the Pistols, the line-up settled around Sioux/Severin and John McKay on guitar and Kenny Morris on drums.

In a matter of months they’d gone from being the kind of band who “didn’t know which way up to hold a guitar or how to plug it in” to being a serrated yet sensuous attack unit. Their first Peel Session (‘Love In A Void’, ‘Mirage’, ‘Metal Postcard’, ‘Suburban Relapse’) shows a band who still had trace elements of glam rock, were strangely psychedelic, tribal and stentorian. This was assured, self-contained, original, startling and lots of other things that you would never normally associate with scenesterism.

Siouxsie said of the process like of recording a Peel Session back then, I think for us especially, we worked very quickly, mainly because we’d only played live before and partially it was dependant on who you had doing the session and some of it was about trying out different instruments and different sounds but they were all sessions that were done during the day and I really like them for that. And we always approached our B-sides like that and for me they are a side of the band that a lot of people don’t really get. But this is my favourite side of the band. I like seeing us working in a more spontaneous environment.

The Banshees changed musical direction in the early 80s after recruiting Budgie (drums) and one guitarist was the Cure’s Robert Smith. Siouxsie’s spiky hairdo and black make-up fixed the image of what a gothic band should be years ahead of its time, and album and single releases proved equally successful. John Peel was instrumental in kick-starting their career after producer John Walters had seen them at the Greyhound in Croydon. He gave them a session prior to their even having a recording contract, Peel played their debut release, “Hong Kong Garden”, at the top of his show every night for a week, and shamelessly plugged their first two LPs. Eventually, he tired of their material, the first signs of this being a luke warm response to the mid 1980 release of Kaleidoscope. He later stated a clear dislike for their cover of the Beatles “Dear Prudence”, and said on Peeling Back The Years in 1987 that “the stuff the Banshees do now doesn’t please me as much as the first things they did…I think the Banshees have become, not exactly predictable, but at the same time, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s going to sound like.”

In a 1982 Smash Hits Radio 1 feature Peel cited Siouxsie & The Banshees as being an example of a group he championed, but who then, turn their backs on him. They did two sessions for the programme before they had a recording contract and now Siouxsie says her favourite DJ’s is Kid Jensen, he added. Siouxsie sat in as guest presenter on the Peel show on 20th October 2004, when Peel was on holiday in Peru.

The complete session recorded by Siouxsie and the Banshees on 29th November 1977 for the John Peel show and broadcast on 5th December 1977. Recorded at the BBC Studios in Maida Vale, London, England . None of the songs had been released prior to the broadcast.


1. Love In A Void
2. Mirage
3. Metal Postcard
4. Suburban Relapse

The complete session recorded by Siouxsie and the Banshees on 6th February 1978 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the 23rd of that month. recorded at the BBC Studios in Maida Vale.

None of the songs had been released prior to the broadcast. The version of “Hong Kong Garden” is the only early studio recording on which the oriental hook is played on glockenspiel. The session also includes a version of “Overground” featuring a Hammond organ motif.


1. Hong Kong Garden
2. Overground
3. Carcass
4. Helter Skelter

The complete session recorded by Siouxsie and the Banshees on 9th April 1979 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the 16th of that month.


1. Placebo Effect
2. Playground Twist
3. Regal Zone
4. Poppy Day

The complete session recorded by Siouxsie and the Banshees on 10th February 1981 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the 18th of that month.


1. Halloween
2. Voodoo Dolly
3. But Not Them
4. Into The Light

The complete session recorded by Siouxsie and the Banshees on 28th January 1986 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on 3rd February 1986.


1. Candy Man
2. Cannons
3. Land’s End

All Five sessions. All are available on “Voices On The Air” – The Peel Sessions and “At The BBC” CD set.

See the source image


John Peel‘s BBC 1 radio show was highly influential, giving so many bands their first radio exposure over the nearly 40 years he was on the air. His show also featured original studio sessions from artists, from Bowie, T-Rex and Nick Drake to Joy Division, The Smiths, The Cure and The Fall, to My Bloody Valentine, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey, Mogwai, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and more. Over the years over 4,000 sessions were recorded by over 2,000 artists.

Many of these ended up getting released as Peel Session EPs by Peel’s own Strange Fruit Records, which started in 1986 and carried on till Peel’s death in 2004. Some of these have now been released to streaming services, but even more have not, though people have uploaded them YouTube. Enter blogger Dave Strickson, who created an alphabetized roundup of all the Peel Sessions he found on YouTube. There’s nearly a thousand, including David Bowie and The Spiders From Mars, Roxy Music, Joy Division and New Order, The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Smiths, The Fall, Echo & The Bunnymen, Nirvana, Hole, Jack White, Elvis Costello, Cocteau Twins, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, The Wedding Present, The Raincoats, Nick Drake, T-Rex, Buzzcocks, Can, Billy Bragg, Fairport Convention, Pulp, The Breeders, The Fugees, The Kinks, The Specials, The Slits, Thin Lizzy, and tons more.

We’ve put a few below but check out the full list here.

Find Sessions from artists ranging from A Guy Called Gerald to XTC.

Compiling the links into this handy index, it’s an exhaustive list that delivers Peel Sessions from a wide range of acts, many of whom are represented with multiple sessions recorded over the years. Siouxsie and the Banshees, for example, have five different sets recorded in the years 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, and 1986. The Cure is represented with four sessions ranging from 1979 to 1985. David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars’ famous 1972 session is in there, as are two vital Nirvana performances from 1990 and 1991.

Cocteau Twins, Roxy Music, A Guy Called Gerald, Stereolab, Pavement, Thin Lizzy, The Specials, The Verve, and Bikini Kill are just a handful of the many other bands found on the list. Dig through the whole thing yourself right here.


Image result for the comsat angels

The Comsat Angels were an English post-punk band from Sheffield,  Named after the J. G. Ballard short story “The Comsat Angels”, the foursome’s original lineup (lasting from 1978 to 1992) consisted of Stephen Fellows (vocals, guitar), Mik Glaisher (drums), Kevin Bacon (bass) and Andy Peake – (keyboards). Their music has been described as “abstract pop songs with spare instrumentation, many of which were bleak and filled with some form of heartache”. They have been credited as being an influence on later post-punk revival bands such as Blacklist, Bell Hollow, Editors and Interpol.

The Comsat Angels sent a copy of their debut EP, “Red Planet”, to John Peel, who liked it and gave the band a session, which Polydor Records picked up and signed the group to their label. The group overall did 4 sessions for Peel’s show and in an interview singer Stephen Fellows praised Peel for helping the band sign to Polydor:

“These days you have singles on the album and singles that are played on the radio and that help sell records, but that kind of thinking wasn’t really as prevalent then.. A band like us didn’t generally get played anyway. If John Peel hadn’t got hold of ‘Red Planet’and given us a session, Polydor probably wouldn’t have heard of us and signed us .Once they had done I don’t think they knew exactly what they had. They left us to get on with it really. I don’t recall any A and R input at all.”

Recorded: 1981-02-03. Broadcast: 09th February 1981.

The complete session recorded by The Comsat Angels on 3rd February 1981 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the 9th of that month.

Tracklist: 1. Be Brave (0:07) 2. At Sea (4:02) 3. Eye Of The Lens (8:13) 4. Dark Parade (12:12)


At the start of their career Tyrannosaurus Rex had no recording contract but Peel promoted them energetically, mentioning them frequently on air and taking them with him to his gigs in 1967 and 1968. Top Gear’s first producer Bernie Andrews disliked them, but they were booked for a first session on the programme on Peel’s insistence. In late 1967, Track Records rejected some early Tyrannosaurus Rex recordings as “too uncommercial”, causing Peel to express his frustration and to fantasise about issuing a 4 LP set by them on a label of his own which would be called Dandelion Records.But eventually they signed with Regal Zonophone and Peel contributed sleevenotes to their first LP, also reading a fairy story by Bolan at the end of its final track. Bolan became a close friend of Peel and Sheila, but this relationship ended after Bolan became a chart-topping teen idol in 1970-71.

The complete session recorded by T. Rex on 26th October 1970 for John Peel on the Top Gear show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on 7th November 1970.


1. Ride A White Swan (0:07) 2. Jewel (2:10) 3. Elemental Child (5:41) 4. Sun Eye (13:24)

Gang Of Four

The complete session recorded the Gang of Four on 9th March 1981 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the 12th of that month.

1. To Hell With Poverty! (0:07)
2. Paralysed (3:44)
3. History Is Bunk (7:04)

This session by Gang of Four, who many considered to be one of the leading bands in the post-Punk movement. They were together (the first time) from 1977 to 1984 – the second time from 1987 to 1997 and this latest incarnation from 2004 to the present.

There have been several different lineups over the years, with only guitarist Andy Gill as the sole remaining original member. Their debut album, the 1979 Entertainment! has been considered the fifth greatest Punk album of all time. During the 80s though, they drifted away from those roots and wandered in the direction of dance-Punk and Disco. But beyond all the changes and direction shifts, they have maintained strong political and social commitments in their music, and were, even early on, considered a potent force in the pursuit of working-class justice.

Tonight it’s their third session at BBC Radio 1 for John Peel, recorded on March 9, 1981 and broadcast on the March 12th. I remember the band causing a stir with American audiences and were a huge influence with a number of bands, including REM and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and some have gone so far as to say their influence has been felt with a number of rap artists. So they got around.

If you aren’t familiar with Gang Of Four, they are an important link for you to get familiar with. If you are familiar and have been following them for years – I don’t need to tell you anything you don’t already know.

they were first transmitted on The John Peel Show on BBC Radio 1 on 22nd August 1979.

The complete session recorded at studio number four at BBC Radio‘s Maida Vale Studios by Echo & The Bunnymen on 15th August 1979 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and  they were first transmitted on The John Peel Show on BBC Radio 1 on 22nd August 1979.

Echo and The Bunnymen were
Ian Mcculloch (Guitar, Vocals)
Will Sergeant (Guitar)
Les Pattinson (Bass)
Dave Balfe (Keyboards, Percussion, Drum Machine)


1. Read It In Books (0:07)
2. Stars Are Stars (2:39)
3. I Bagsy Yours (5:46)
4. Villiers Terrace (8:41)

Fat Old Sun 00:00
One Of These Days 15:27
Echoes 22:58
Embryo 49:30
Blues 59:36


Pink Floyd live in 1971 prior to the release of their forthcoming album “Meddle” with tracks presented (in his inimitable way) by John Peel. This was The Pink Floyd we loved, investigating sounds, jamming, mixing songs with extended instrumental pieces, creating atmospheres and in this set playing a song that didn’t appear on any of their studio albums, Embryo.  They were soft, edgy, inventive and tuned into the times lyrically.

This excellent quality recording is a real treasure for Pink Floyd fans and when a voice comes in at the end of Embryo, this is “WNEW FM 102.7 on your dial” you realise that you can never completely trust the info a bootleg recording gives you. This concert from London could have been broadcast in the US, it could have been a Floyd instigated overdub, who knows? If you know or have any information about this concert, please be sure to let us know.

The last track is listed simply as Blues and there is no information at all about it? It could be the middle of another song, it could be the soundcheck, it could be a different concert? Whatever it is there is energy and excitement, mood and adventure even though it is just a simple series of blues chords with guitar and organ taking it in turn to play the solos. (Cheers at the end are obvious overdubs).