This is a review of "The Complete Peel Sessions 1986-2004" recorded by The Wedding Present. The review was written by Richard Garnett in 2007.
David Gedge’s long running friendship with the late great John Peel is lovingly documented across this 6 CD box-set. A cornucopia of all things Peel that the band ever recorded, even including the odd chat between the two, revealing their mutual admiration. As a package it is a hard one to assess. Lovingly re-mastered and brought together in one place for the first time it is a real treat for fans, but you can’t escape the fact that the fans who will buy it, probably own it separately already. This is a history lesson of how Leeds music scene used to be before the days of budgets, Toni & Guy and mass marketing. Before you could find out all you needed to know about the Kaiser Detectives at the click of a button, when mostly Leeds was a pretty grim musical landscape and the only bright light was the occasional 7” single and not just for the novelty of releasing such an arcane format. Starting out at session one in early 1986 this charts the band through their early trademark sound of fast interfering guitars right through to 2004 when then only recently reformed they recorded their last session for the great DJ. Nothing is left out and pretty much something from all the bands albums found its way to being bashed out in the famous Maida Vale studios. In fact session 12 is the only session not to have been previously released and includes a couple of rarities for the true completist. Making up the box set are 3 CDs of live performances taken from the now defunct Phoenix festival (a festival they stopped because festivals were not commercially viable enough… how times have changed) and Reading, plus the excellent Leeds Sound City gig from 1996 and John Peel’s 50th birthday party. It is this last offering that actually suffers the most from the desire to include everything, being as it is recorded poorly and sounding as if you are listening from outside the tent. But for the main part it is a welcome chance to hear some excellent live material. If you are not a fan of the band then this is hardly the best place to start but for a lesson in how bands used to do it before the current climate obsessed with débutants this is perfect. Building a career that includes more than a successful debut album and being dropped after your ignored follow up... was it only such a short time ago?