‘Ukrainski Vistupi V Ivana Peela’ is a ground breaking album by The Wedding Present. Released in 1989 on RCA records, it reached number 22 in the national album charts – a remarkable achievement for a Ukrainian language album.
The story of the record begins in1987.The Wedding Present took a break from their northern indie rock love songs, and recorded two sessions for John Peel in a completely different style. Fired up by band’s guitarist Peter Solowka, the sessions were of Ukrainian traditional songs but done in the fast and passionate way that The Wedding Present were well known for.
Peter Solowka was born in the UK with Ukrainian heritage and like most people with this background, he learned the culture of his father’s country in a small Saturday morning school. ‘This was before Ukraine got its independence. As kids, we were left in no doubt how important it was to preserve this culture. Learn it and pass it on to the next generation, and one day Ukraine will be free. The language lessons didn’t work, but the music really stuck with me.”
Len Liggins, a student of Russian language, joined for the first session to add vocals and violin, and the second session was further enhanced when Roman Remeynes brought his vocals and mandolin to the project. The sessions were among the most repeated on the John Peel show. When The Wedding Present signed to RCA records, the Peel sessions album was their first release. It was supported by an eight date UK tour where these sessions, and more self-written songs were played.
The record was the first in the world to mix Ukrainian and western musical styles, and is something of a reference point for a genre of music which now exists in Ukrainian communities around the world.
While on RCA, the band continued to write and record their own style of Ukrainian music. This record was released in 1991 as the first album by the group ‘The Ukrainians’. Peter and Len have fronted the group for almost three decades, recording 6 studio albums, and playing over 1000 gigs around the world.
In this show, all the Ukrainian Peel Session tracks will be performed, along with other ‘Ukrainian’ recordings made by The Wedding Present. Len & Peter – original members of the Wedding Present – will perform with The Ukrainians. Other original members have been invited. (Check social media for the final line up).
The album is being re-released on 12” vinyl, including a third Ukrainian session. ‘The Complete Ukrainian Peel Sessions’ (Повні Українські Виступи В Івана Піла)will be available in April 2019.