One of the primary, if not reluctantly labeled bands of what became known as the Brit-Pop Movement, Pulp were hugely influential, primarily in the early to mid-1990s. This session, their first for John Peel, features a band in their formative stage, finding their way, fronted by an 18 year-old Jarvis Cocker.
Recorded on November 7, 1981 and broadcast on November 18th, this session became part of a double album release in 2006, tracing Pulp’s history of live performances.
Although these tracks don’t come from that album, but rather from John Peel airchecks directly, they are still the same and are a fascinating glimpse into how a band evolves and shapes their sound.
Pulp in the beginning were very different from the Pulp we came to know later. More associated with New Wave than Alternative Rock, they were very reminiscent of another UK band active around that time, Deaf School, who were another influential band, also associated with New Wave but had broken up by 1978, the same year Pulp formed.
Pulp were not an instant success. In fact, their success was painfully slow in coming – between this session in 1981 and their groundbreaking, smash success Different Class, some 13 years of struggle, gigging and releasing albums to little success had gone by. Fortunes began to change with the release of His n’ Hers a year earlier in 1994. But the band had more than their fair share of frustrations, even folding at one point, in 1988.
If anything, the success of Pulp makes a solid case for perseverance. To go from a string of rejections and indifference to one of the most important bands of the 1990s is a feat of no small accomplishment. That their music is still being discovered by new fans is further testimony for not quitting.
Here’s a reminder of how Pulp were in the beginning; their first session for John Peel at BBC Radio 1 in November of 1981.
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