Posts Tagged ‘Strange Fruit Records’

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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.

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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.