Monday, May 27, 2013

Galaxie 500 - "Peel Sessions" (LP Review)

I think I've run out of words to describe how much I love Galaxie 500, the hazy, dreamy, nearly-shoegazing Boston band whose existence completely overlapped with my college years (1987-1991).   Unfortunately, this short career left us with only three studio LPs and a posthumously extended discography, most of which I would recommend only to hard-core fans such as myself. 

But that's not true for the 2005 LP "Peel Sessions", which collects two, four song sessions from 1989 and 1990 for the legendary BBC Radio 1 show by John Peel.  This live-in-the-studio LP has excellent sound quality (unlike the live LP "Copenhagen"), offers three "new" cover songs not available on other LPs, and subtly different arrangements of some of their classic songs.  I don't think these sessions were available previous to be released in 2005.  Peel Sessions are an interesting format: you have four songs (or about ~20 minutes) to showcase yourself, and this limited amount of time forces you to economically pick representative songs.  On the other hand, if you just do your "greatest hits" then haven't offered the audience something new.  Galaxie 500 understood this: notice how their quintessential song, "Tugboat", does not appear?

The real highlight here are the three "new" songs.  Galaxie 500 always had a tradition of showing how smart they were with their meticulous selection of covers.  Of course their standard Jonathan Richmond cover "Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste" is present (I think few would argue that Galaxie 500 now owns this song, not Richmond), but they also turn in inspired interpretations of "Submission" (Sex Pistols), "Final Day" (Young Marble Giants), and "Moonshot" (Buffy Sainte-Marie).  Sure you've heard of the Pistols, but "Submission" is an inspired choice; YMG was influential but not famous, and ask your hippie parents about BSM (the Pistols *and* Buffy Sainte-Marie?!  genius.).

I'm going to break with the standard LP review format and just list all eight tracks and claim them all as "standouts" (and obviously there are no tracks to skip).  The first four are from the October 1990 session and the last four are from the September 1989 session:
  1. Submission
  2. Final Day
  3. When Will You Come Home
  4. Moonshot
  5. Flowers
  6. Blue Thunder
  7. Decomposing Trees
  8. Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste
Bonus links to the original versions:
Final score: 9/10.  While there are only three "new" songs, this is an LP I can easily recommend to those not already familiar with Galaxie 500. 

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