THE WEDDING PRESENT’S UKRAINIAN PEEL SESSIONS GET 30TH ANNIVERSARY RE-RELEASE
Hatch Records of Leeds released The Complete Ukrainian John Peel Sessions - by The Wedding Present - on 26 April 2019.
This new release includes all three Ukrainian Wedding Present Peel sessions [re-mastered here for the first time] along with extensive sleeve-notes and a new sleeve design from the original artist Jonathan 'Hitch' Hitchen.
Also included is a DVD featuring a new interview with David Gedge, Peter Solowka and Len Higgins, a rare BBC 2 TV performance and live footage from 1989.
Who would have thought that the Ukrainian songs initially played by The Wedding Present for a bit of fun would turn into a proper band with numerous albums, BBC sessions for the legendary John Peel Show, and live concerts to their credit?
The Wedding Present first played the traditional Ukrainian song ‘Hopak’ at rehearsals in 1987 following a suggestion by guitarist Pete Solowka, whose father had emigrated to the UK from Ukraine. It wasn’t long after this that the band's next session for John Peel's iconic BBC Radio 1 show had a distinct Ukrainian feel to it. Singer / violinist Len Liggins, a friend of Solowka’s and a student of Slavonic languages, was drafted in to help, and the session was a surprising hit. Peel would go on to air the tracks several times over.
Due to the unexpected success of that first session, two further Peel sessions were recorded, this time with the assistance of Roman Remeynes who was, like Solowka, of Ukrainian descent. Ultimately, the band released the compilation album ‘Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela’ in 1989 and this went on to sell 70,000 copies. This record is famous for being the only Ukrainian language record ever to feature in the British album charts (No. 22)!
To celebrate these much-loved recordings, on 26 April, Hatch Records will release The Complete Ukrainian John Peel Sessions which includes all three sessions. It's an intriguing and compelling collection of Ukrainian folk songs expertly delivered in Wedding Present fashion. Tracks like the rollicking ‘Davni Chasy’ and ‘Svitit Misyats’ have the dense whiff of Vodka running through them, with the sound of traditional instruments such as the mandolin and bubon dominating the songs against a backdrop of punk pop guitar.
With usual singer David Gedge relegated to guitar and backing vocals, Liggins takes centre-stage for the singing duties. His sonorous Ukrainian vocals on ‘Cherez Richku, Cherez Hai’ combined with edgy guitar make for an exciting mix of Ukrainian and western musical styles. This track is actually something of a reference point for a genre of music which now exists in Ukrainian communities around the world.
The Complete Ukrainian John Peel Sessions DVD also includes a new interview with David Gedge, Peter Solowka and Len Liggins, along with a fantastic rare BBC 2 TV performance from 1988 and two live songs from a sold-out Leeds Polytechnic concert in 1989.
Eventually leaving The Wedding Present in 1991, Solowka went on to form The Ukrainians with Liggins and Remeynes and soon released ‘Oi Divchino’ - an NME 'Single Of The Week' - followed by their self-titled debut album. The band still write and record their own style of Ukrainian music today. They have released six studio albums and toured all over Europe.
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