Pond Scum is the title of the latest offering from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, the tracks for which are taken from three John Peel Sessions. According to the press release six are ascribed to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I did delve into Ken Garner’s ‘The Peel Sessions’ and the complete ‘Sessionography’ to find out when they were only to discover seven:
- There are three attributed under the Palace Brothers (recorded between 1993-95)
- Three as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (two in ’99 one in 2001) the final of which was solo
- One recorded in 2002 with the note ‘Billed now as Will Oldham’
Trivia aside there is plenty to excite any Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy fan – ourselves included. To tempt you, there is a free download of ‘Rich Wife Full of Happiness‘, but not the one from the album, which is presumably taken from his solo performance from 2001, although it is in a “similar in tone, but not found on Pond Scum”.
You can grab it here: www.dominorecordco.com/pondscum
More on the release:
There are no Peel sessions anymore – that tradition was buried in the pyramids with John Peel himself upon the great man’s passing. Of the thousands left in the wake, six are ascribed to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – and of those six, three have been combined to form the deeply congruous experience of Pond Scum.
A span of eight years is covered, in reverse, and many chestnuts are rolled out, freed of former contexts with sparse arrangements. ‘(I Was Drunk at the) Pulpit’ feels, ten years from inception, more vividly worn; ‘Death to Everyone’ is loosed from its frame, the bones decoupled and spread out, giving the song a reflective air (as opposed the biting declamation of the original); ‘Arise, Therefore’ adapts its metronomic base, the evangelic twist of its roots made palpable. With the centre of the performance in stark relief, the gnomic qualities of two ‘Get On Jolly’ pieces are intensified. Further accenting the devoted spirit of this collection is the inclusion of Bonnie’s take on Prince’s ‘The Cross’, as well as the previously-unreleased original ‘Beezle.’
Bonnie’s lone shadow casts over this lot, accompanied on the first four tracks by David Heumann, but otherwise playing solo through a set of original songs (and two covers) representing a decade of progress in the almost unbearably intimate-yet-unknowable manner that was so often the vibe of those strange and wondrous days.
Layers peel to reveal the subtle artistry and refinement contained within these sessions, so begin to dig deep into the vault on January 22nd, 2016.