ALBUM REVIEW: Dermot O’Leary Presents The Saturday Sessions – Various Artists

27 Sep

Words By Rahsian Parris

Compilations, what to say? The general consensus is that eight out of ten times they are like the not so ‘Greatest Hits’ of a bunch of artists that are favoured amongst the masses, whose songs we could reel off in chronological order if asked and with a track list that says ‘flung together with the haste and frivolity of a thousand capitalists’ as oppose to ‘specially crafted for your listening pleasure’; not to mention the fact that they are, in essence, like turning the dial to the UK’s Top 40 minus the adverts and faux anticipation.

Live compilations tend to go down slightly better, though, again, leave a lot to be desired with questionable song choices (or omissions for that matter), lack luster production – because revving up the reverb is not the answer to a poor performance – and general ambiguity that may in fact do a lot of things but includes falling short of capturing the intricacies of what we all love about live music – in short, if I find a live compilation that I deem worth purchasing I’ll eat my hat. Then along comes BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary Presents The Saturday Sessions and I feel compelled to get my plate ready to guzzle until my belly is full of some sort of made in Turkey cotton polyester mix.

This quaint blend of predominantly acoustic tunes performed by some of the nations favourite acts is nothing less than a Sunday (or Saturday) morning aural delight. The songs themselves are mostly cover versions of well-known past and present chart toppers including songs from Amy Winehouse, Elvis Presley, Britney Spears and Michael Jackson. The beauty being that they are the live performances recorded during The Dermot O’Leary Show on BBC Radio 2, something the tasteful production really encapsulates.

Pop/Rock with echoes of Jazz and Blues that make for easy listening transcends other notable live ‘sessions’ compilations as a record that not only offers vividly expressive and often eccentric versions of some of our favourite songs (Lily Allen does a smashing, jazzy rendition of Britney’s ‘Womanizer’), but also gives some artists a chance to offer up more modest, exposed versions of their own songs; Florence + The Machine’s ‘Rabbit Heart’ and The Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition’ being stand out examples.

However, what is most apparent is the unmistakable feeling and passion that every performance oozes, that, despite not being live in the traditional sense, is something that has not been lost in the recording process. Fyfe Dangerfield‘s stomping version of Girls Aloud‘s ‘Call The Shots‘ is genius, as is Imogen Heap’s performance of ‘Thriller’, which is an almost perplexing concoction of haunting melodies and moving emotion, making the track recognisable enough to be pointed out, but so far removed from the original that it could be her own; haunting in completely opposing ways to Jackson’s, leaving plagued zombies behind and depicting a person tormented by a soul eating ghost closer to the heart.

There is something about the relationship we have with hearing music on the radio that is so different to personal, off air, listening habits that, in most cases, are inadequate in comparison, which is why, as a whole, this two disc (twenty track) ensemble does something that is so rarely executed with these kind of records; it totally and completely encompasses the feeling and nature of the radio show the songs were performed for, replicating the listening experience as if it were happening live, for the first time with zero insufficiencies. All in all it is reason enough to ditch your iPod (even if it is just for a for a few days) and fall back in love with live performance and the radio.

Rahsian Parris for


One Response to “ALBUM REVIEW: Dermot O’Leary Presents The Saturday Sessions – Various Artists”

  1. Winkswitheffort September 28, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    I have the previous Saturday Sessions CD and it really is a delight. I didn’t know they had released a new one, so thank you for that :))

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