With their early records, Mercury Rev offered experimental, psychedelic rock, which gradually shifted to a melodic, ornate sound. Mercury Rev is often compared to The Flaming Lips, and in fact share close ties: soon after the band's formation, Donahue also joined the Flaming Lips as second guitarist and appeared on two of their albums; and since the 1990 album In a Priest Driven Ambulance, Dave Fridmann has co-produced every Flaming Lips studio album to date except 1993's Transmissions from the Satellite Heart.
Despite considerable critical acclaim, their early releases never gave Mercury Rev more than cult popularity, though they appeared on the smaller second stage at some 1993 Lollapalooza stops. Baker left after their second record, Boces (1993), citing musical and personal disputes; he later recorded an album as Shady. With his departure, the thematically darker and musically experimental features of the band began to disappear.
The 1998 release of the acclaimed Deserter's Songs (which featured appearances by Garth Hudson and Levon Helm of The Band) made Mercury Rev unexpected pop stars. In the UK, NME magazine made Deserter's Songs their Album of the Year. Donahue's earnest, high-pitched vocals and concentration on relatively concise, melodic songs gave the band's material an entirely new feel and much increased popularity (Deserter's Songs spawned three UK Top 40 singles).
All Is Dream was issued in 2001. It included, "The Dark is Rising," which reached No. 16 in the UK Singles Chart....(Read more)
Links to Peel
Mercury Rev recorded five sessions over a ten year period and at the Reading festival JP introduced them as his favourite band.  At the same event, John recalled interviewing one of the band and remarking that this unnamed member made fun of him throughout . In addition, they made the Festive Fifty three times, once with a song that John had never played (although Mary Anne Hobbs had done so when sitting in for him).
1995 was, however, a fallow period for the band with See You On The Other Side marking a change of direction that few appreciated: "The band recall Peel Session engineers gawping in disbelief when they rolled up to record I Only Have Eyes For You or songs from Willy Wonka (Peel himself was consistently supportive)." 
Festive Fifty Entries
- 1991 Festive Fifty: 'Car Wash Hair' #49
- 1998 Festive Fifty: 'Goddess On A Hiway' #33
- 2001 Festive Fifty: 'The Dark Is Rising' #44
- Five sessions. Available on The Peel Sessions (Universal).
- Chasin' A Bee / Syringe Mouth / Coney Island Cyclone / Fritterin'
- Trickledown / Boys Peel Out / Downs Are Feminine Balloons
3. Recorded: 1995-07-02. First broadcast: 29 July 1995. No repeats.
- Everlasting Arm / I Only Have Eyes For You / Racing The Tide-Close Encounters Of the Third Grade
4. Recorded: 1999-05-05. First broadcast: 25 May 1999. No repeats.
- I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama, I Don't Wanna Die / The Funny Bird-Tonight It Shows / Observatory Crest
- Tides Of The Moon / Little Rhymes / Spider And Flies / Planet Caravan / Gymnopedies 3
Other Shows Played
- 10 March 1991: 'Syringe Mouth (LP-Yerself Is Steam)' (Mint Film)
- 25 October 1991 (BFBS): 'Car Wash Hair (The Bee's Chasing Me) Full Pull (12")' (Mint Films)
- 28 December 1991: 'Frittering'
- 20 November 1992 / DW Tape 39: 'Coney Island Cyclone (LP-Yerself Is Steam/Lego My Ego)' (Beggars Banquet)
- 29 November 1992 (BFBS): Coney Island Cyclone (EP - Chasing A Bee) Columbia
- 09 January 1993 / DW Tape 47: 'Car Wash Hair' 1991 Festive Fifty #49
- 23 July 1993: Something For Joey (EP Something For Joey) Beggars Banquet
- 01 August 1993 (BFBS): Something For Joey (album - Boces) Beggars Banquet
- 02 August 1993 (Ö3): 'Something For Joey (LP-Boces)' (Beggars Banquet)
- 26 August 1994: ‘Everlasting Arm (single)' Beggars Banquet
- 25 March 1995: A Kiss From An Old Flame (LP – See You On The Other Side) Beggars Banquet
- 01 April 1995: Close Encounters Of The 3rd Grade (CD - See You On The Other Side) Beggars Banquet
- 01 April 1995 (BFBS): 'A Kiss From An Old Flame (A Trip To The Moon) (CD-See You On The Other Side)' (Beggars Banquet)
- 12 September 2001: 'The Dark Is Rising (CDS)' (V2)
- 25 December 2001: 'The Dark Is Rising (CD-All Is Dream)' (V2) (JP: 'D'you know, I don't believe I've played that on the radio before tonight....no particular reason for not playing it... obviously you can't play everything.') 2001 Festive Fifty #44
- 09 November 2004 (Rob Da Bank): 'Black Forest (LP-The Secret Migration)' (V2)
- 10 November 2004 (Rob Da Bank): 'Moving On (LP- The Secret Machine)' (V2)