Siouxsie and the Banshees recorded sessions for BBC Radio 1’s John Peel show in November 1977, February 1978, April 1979 and February 1981. There was then a gap of five years before their last Peel session in January 1986.
The buzz about Peel sessions was that you’d hear different versions of songs you knew – often faster, more edgy or alternatively a slowed-down acoustic version. For bands, having a session was a chance to experiment; sessions often gave the listener work-in-progress and the first chance to hear a previously unreleased song.
I usually listened to John Peel in the dark, in bed. It made everything sound so urgent and overwhelmingly positive. But, in the days before the Internet, if you wanted to hear a session again you needed to record it.
By the early ’80’s there were radio-cassette machines that you could use to record directly onto a cassette, and these made taping from the radio simple. However, for the early Siouxsie sessions, I only had a portable cassette recorder with a microphone. Placing the microphone near my transistor radio, the recording was usually fine so long as everything kept quiet – no fire engines, annoying little brothers or coughing fits.
If you talk to people who taped the Peel sessions, one of the main aim of home recording was for the songs to stand alone, with no John Peel comments on it. Then you could play the songs over and over again like some kind of exclusive EP.
Ironically, these kinds of recordings are all over YouTube and it’s more difficult to find session recordings with John Peel introducing the track and commenting afterwards. Still, in my head, many songs end with an echo of his voice, saying
“Sioooooooouxsie and the BANshees” in the way that John Peel did. .
Here’s the tracklists for the Siouxsie sessions: From Keeping it Peel website
- Placebo Effect
- Playground Twist
- Regal Zone
- Poppy Day