Pulp's Peel sessions have often been the stuff of legend. The band hold the dubious distinction of having the longest gap between sessions (the first was in 1981, the followup in 1993) and between that time they went through enough lineup changes to fill a football squad, with Jarvis Cocker being the sole mainstay. Thus, the leap on the first disc between the first four tracks of early, scratchy new wave pop--three of which were never recorded again--and the sophisticated Europop of the tracks from the acclaimed His'n'Hers
onwards, is quite a distance in terms of ability and sound.
Throughout the first disc, which comprises the Peel Sessions proper, we get a glimpse at an early, slightly hesitant version of "Common People" the definitive recording of "You're A Nightmare" which the band used as a B-side, and the legendary unreleased "Duck Diving", which is a charming narrative somewhere between "David's Last Summer" (from 1998's His'n'Hers
) and "The Trees" (2001's We Love Life
). The second disc is a compilation of the band at their fearsome live best and shows their ability to translate their shiny pop sound into accessible, enjoyable pop music for the masses. An excellent accompaniment to the recent Pulp Deluxe reissues.--Thom Allott