Of the many, many contributions that the late John Peel made to music, one of his most creative and memorable was the Peel Sessions, where literally hundreds of bands were invited to perform and produce recordings that straddled the space between spontaneous live performance and studio recordings. Many bands shone particularly brightly in these sessions, and they've almost always provided defininitive snapshots of an artist at that point in their history. When the Hot Snakes visited the BBC studios to record what unfortunately turned out to be the last under Peel's legendary tutelage, they were able to construct a memorable entry in the series' catalog.
The four tracks on the recording are culled from the solid Automatic Midnight and the exemplary Audit In Progress and were recorded on legendary equipment that was shared by musicians like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and as such, the songs all have a warm, timeless sound to them. It's certainly no less raw then the Hot Snakes' studio records, but they sound even more vibrant and energetic then the performances on their records.
A package like this is sometimes of questionable interest to non-fans; after all, live performances typically don't have the accessible polish applied to CDs, but this record is certainly an exception in that regard. It acts not just as a great set of recordings for fans, but also as a solid introduction to people unfamiliar with the band. It's disappointing that so few tracks were cut to tape and the omission of any material from Suicide Invoice or my favourite track from Audit In Progress ("Plenty For All") was unfortunate, but the quality of the performance and the recording is so good that you'd hardly notice.
Hot Snakes - Peel Sessions
- Automatic Midnight (originally from Automatic Midnight)
- No Hands (originally from Automatic Midnight)
- Brain Trust (originally from Audit in Progress)
- This Mystic Decade (originally from Audit in Progress)