Look A Little Closer

The Woodentops (2)

The Woodentops – The BBC Sessions (Renascent, 2007)

At the same time as purchasing the Teardrop Explodes ‘Peel Sessions Plus’ LP, I also bought the Woodentops’ ‘The BBC Sessions’ again from the wonderful Avalanche in Edinburgh.

To a large extent this is a record which illustrates the truism of Peel sessions being rawer, live takes on bands’ songs. On some of the earlier sessions there’s a sense that the band were still finding their feet, not surprisingly given that Rolo’s sleeve notes relate the fact that the first Peel session, only booked because the Smiths pulled out, was the band’s first taste of recording – ever.

Some of these early versions sound untutored and not a patch on the versions which ended up on the early singles. But the further in you get, the more you can hear the band’s confidence growing. Whilst the stuff off the debut LP has a pleasing edgy quality the session approach doesn’t hide the fact that Bob Sargeant’s production may have added a glossy sheen but underneath there always had been some gorgeous pop tunes.

Perhaps of most interest though is the later material from the second LP’ Woodenfoot Cops On The Highway’ which was ultimately sunk underneath a stultifying production. The versions here zip with life and it’s to one of these that I turn to illustrate the disc:

The Woodentops – Wheels Turning (from ‘The BBC Sessions’)

In some ways the LP is flawed because, as mentioned above, the versions of the early singles simply aren’t as focussed as their recorded versions. But finding a record that genuinely reflects the band’s best work isn’t that easy particularly since there isn’t a best of available at the moment which includes those classic early singles. But for fans at least this is a fascinating document.

You can buy the LP from the wonderful Renascent’s online store from here.

The Woodentops play 2 dates at London, The Water Rats on 10th and 11th December (tickets). New songs are promised.