Wednesday, November 5, 2014

REVIEW: The Chills - BBC Sessions

Fans of iconic New Zealand guitar pop band The Chills have enjoyed a few delectable treats in recent years, all thanks to Fire Records.  In 2013 Fire Records released Somewhere Beautiful, an excellent recording of a private concert given on New Years Eve 2011 in New Zealand.  Previously this year the label released the two track single Molten Gold and tour EP Stand By.  And now we have The BBC Sessions.  The band, which was formed in 1980 by permanent headman Martin Phillipps, was ascending from scrappy Dunedin pop band to target of international labels, was invited by the legendary John Peel to record live at the BBC studios.  There were three sessions, December of 1985, April of 1987, and December of 1988, with four songs selected by the band recorded in each session.  Unsurprisingly, for the first session the band chose better known songs from their catalog, including my favorites "Rolling Moon" and "Wet Blanket".  For the later sessions the band expanded their selections.  The result of those choices, and the quality of the recording set up provided by the BBC, results in a wonderful and unique collection that showcases a variety of their songs with the vitality that can only be captured in a live-to-tape setting.  Owning The BBC Sessions is like owning a high quality bootleg concert tape, and presents a collection of tracks you won't find elsewhere in The Chills' discography.  Martin Phillipps is a top pop craftsman, and at the height of their game they were one of the most exciting bands on the scene.  This time capsule captures it all perfectly.

Below you can sample the opening track, "Rolling Moon".  I've also provided You Tube streams of the entire first and second sessions, although they don't provide the fidelity available on the recording.

1985 session ("Rolling Moon", "Brave Words", "Wet Blanket", and "Night of the Chill Blue") --

1987 session ("Dan Destiny and the Silver Dawn", "Living in a Jungle", "Rain", Moonlight on Flesh") --

Fire Records page for album

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