White stripes’ complete peel sessions collection: a popular bootleg is officially released for the first time

15th June 2016

Title: The Complete John Peel Sessions

Label: Third Man

Produced for Record Store Day

Presented on two vinyl discs: one red, the other white (but of course), this collection covers two live sessions with the legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ, John Peel. This suite of songs has been heavily bootlegged since their initial broadcast in 2001 which makes this double album the first authorised release in celebration of the duo’s 15 year anniversary. A standard black vinyl version of this release will be available later this year.

The sessions cover Maida Vale, 25 July 2001 and Peel Acres (John Peel’s own home), 8 November 2001 and tracks include: Let’s Shake Hands; Jolene, Cannon; I Think I Smell A Rat and Apple Blossom while the band are on lively form, offering attitude and a unique style that is a regular force of nature in terms of presentation.

The label itself exclaimed that this release captures, “…Jack and Meg at the precipice of international renown in the hubbub of “White Blood Cells,” their two live sessions with famed BBC DJ John Peel are arguably the best document of the White Stripes at that time.” And I have to agree. Let’s Shake Hands is an ideal example of where the band was in style terms and shows Jack White in almost psychological torment, mentally ripped to pieces as he yearns for physical contact. It’s quite a shocking vocal delivery, god only knows what Peel’s neighbours made of it. But the distress and anguish doesn’t end there. When I Hear My Name almost overwhelms the band in terms of emotion and sheer aggression. Fancy hearing the Stripes self combust like a Spinal Tap drummer? Check out this track.

Even the band’s covers are worthy of attention. Their approach to Jolene, the Dolly Parton hit, is a blues rock miscreation that is twisted and mutated. And so it goes, from one brilliant live cut to another. Sound quality is superb for a live session…in someone’s front room. Now you can dump those boots, eh?