The Delgados – The Complete BBC Peel Sessions

the blueprint for all indie bands to follow

the blueprint for all indie bands to follow


There’s a description of the Delgados on the internet (just Google, you’ll find it) that describes them as "an amazing rock band that use flutes." Although it’s quite a snappy and slightly amusing comment, I don’t think it does them any justice. That’s what they used to say about Mercury Rev in the early days, after all, and it never did them justice either. The Delgados were much more subtle than that description suggests. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself?


If you don’t know anything about The Delgados, then you’re missing out on something rather special. You hear a lot about the majesty of Mogwai, the art rock of Franz Ferdinand and the sleazy tunes of Sons and Daughters, but The Delgados are, or were, one of the best Scottish bands to appear in the 1990’s and acted as a kind of door opener for the bands that followed them. You can add Bis and Arab Strap to that list too. The Delgados seem to have been forgetten, which is a shame as they are well worth checking out, particularly their Peloton album, which really was at the head of the pack. People have described them as being reminiscent of bands like Pavement and Sebadoh, but I think that’s only half true. Again, they’re much more subtle than Sebadoh and definitely less quirky than Pavement, but if you want to find out what The Delgados were really like, then you could do a lot worse than getting a hold of this; which is apt, in a way, as it was on John Peel’s show that I first heard them.



What’s wonderful about this collection is that, with the tracks being placed in chronological order, you get a real sense of how the band developed over the years. This collection contains some tracks that weren’t officially "Peel Sessions," like the opening session, which was originally broadcast in Scotland but was then played on Peel’s show a bit later, so we’ll allow it to get through.


Disc one is electrifying, and you can feel the band finding their feet throughout it. The music becomes more confident and assured as the disc goes on. It’s like listening to a child grow up in 16 songs. What was thin, spare and exciting, the sound of a band just finding their feet (just listen to that first session!) grows muscle and fleshes out into something very mature and elegant.


Disc two, on the other hand, showcases the band at their very best. The first couple of sessions on this disc provide the best idea of what the band were like to watch live, at their peak of their powers. As they became more in tune with their muse and more confident in their own ability they decided to experiment a bit. The line up for the first session on this disc consisted of a full 9 musicians, the four regulars and five borrowed string players. It’s not surprising to find that this is the most beautiful and accomplished of all the sessions contained here. The next session, recorded in 2002, consists of cover versions only, one of which requested by Peel himself, which is a nice touch. Of course, confidence can lead to arrogance and any band that thought they could just pick up Mr Blue Sky and play it must have a bit of an ego trip going on to be honest, but they do a pretty valiant job, apart from fluffing the opening a little.


The last session, recorded only a couple of months before Peel’s death, saw the band come pretty much full circle, dropping all the excess and returning to the BBC’s Maida Vale in a stripped down format. The difference between this session and their first is almost unbelievable. It shows just how far the band developed their songwriting ability and where they once threw guitar noise over everything to mask their shortcomings, here they hold back, confident in their ability to craft and play a good tune.


The Delgados Complete BBC Sessions should be the blueprint for all indie bands to follow. Truly inspirational.


Words : Damian Leslie