The discography of The Wedding Present consists of 34 singles, 2 extended plays, 8 studio albums, 5 live albums and 13 compilation albums many of which have songs otherwise unavailable or have different arrangements or alternative versions from the original recording. Trying to narrow all that down to an imaginary 33 and 1/3 LP, five tracks on either side, with the perfect running order, was a total nightmare. But here’s my stab:-
1. Dalliance (1991 single and track from the LP Seamonsters)
This song featured on the blog just over six weeks ago. A stunning and unexpected wall of sound that took the band to a whole new level in terms of fanbase and out of the realms of mere indie-pop. David Gedge doesn’t write 3 minute pop or rock songs; instead we often get mini soap-operas set to magical tunes. This is a real tear-jerker. Listen to it drunk and think about someone who once broke your heart. I dare you not to think of them and then say you weren’t fighting back the tears, whether of anger or sadness.
2. Brassneck (single version, 1990)
The production of Steve Albini on Seamonsters really helped the band break out of the indie-shell and a hint of what he would do can be found on the remix of the opening track from the Bizarro LP. Thirty seconds are trimmed from the original while the arrangement is tightened and beefed up. I love how the electric guitar gives way to the acoustic strumming about two-thirds of the way through before the ‘beached whale wailing’ beckons David back to microphone.
3. My Favourite Dress (live) (recorded at Sound City Leeds in 1996)
First recorded back in 1987, this evergreen single is probably the band’s most played live song. It never fails to get a huge roar when the opening notes are struck and it takes all the males in the audience back to a time when they were slimmer, fitter, healthier and had much more hair on the top of their heads and none up their noses or in their ears. At which point we all kid on we are 30 years younger than we really are and four minutes later collapse in a heap wondering why we can’t dance as energetically as we once did.
“A stranger’s hand on my favorite dress” – one of thousands of killer lines he’s written over the decades.
4. Always The Quiet One (from the 2005 LP Take Fountain)
Between 1998 and 2004, all of the material written and recorded by David Gedge came out under the moniker of Cinerama – and extremely high quality songs they were too. The first time anyone ever heard this track was as part of the last ever Cinerama Peel Session. Within a year, the Weddoes were back with their first LP in nine years with this being one of many highlights. A lighter, poppier side to the band with a tale that is Morrissey/Smiths-esque in genre and quality.
5. Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm (1988 single)
There’s some wording on the back of the sleeve of this single.
‘Additional vocals by Amelia’
This little touch gave the band a different dynamic as they brought in the indie goddess who was Amelia Fletcher from Tallulah Gosh to add backing vocals to some new songs after the release of the debut LP. It was a short-lived partnership of no more than a few months and it didn’t make it beyond minor contributions to the sophomore classic that was Bizarro. But it planted a seed for male/female vocals that came to the fore in the Cinerama era and thereafter in the 21st Century Weddoes. This is a cracking 45 which took the band into the Top 50 of the singles chart for the first time
1. Kennedy (1989 single and track on the LP Bizzaro)
This is an immense piece of music that still sounds incredibly fresh more than a quarter of a century on. There is nothing more that needs to be said.
2. Perfect Blue (from the 2005 LP Take Fountain)
Ever since the band reformed, just about every time they perform Kennedy in a live setting it is followed up with one of the slower songs from the repertoire to enable the audience to recapture its collective breath after the bouncing around. And so with this imaginary LP.
A song of two halfs. The first two and three-quarter minutes is a straight-forward but beautiful love song with a dreamy backing vocal from Terry de Castro that is a throwback to the Amelia Fletcher material. The final two and a bit minutes is pure Cinerama…..strings, horns and guitars collide magnificently in a coda that Tindersticks would have been proud of. A hidden gem of a track.
3. Lovenest (1991 single)
A shortened version of another of the outstanding songs on Seamonsters. This aural assault on the ears ends in a blast of controlled feedback for about 40 seconds…..live it always sounds magnificent.
4. Flying Saucer (Peel Session)
An often overlooked classic from the singles period. Cracking tune and for once it’s not a mini soap opera – instead it celebrates the joy of falling head over heels. The tune, with its extended guitar riff to the end of the song, in many ways is reminiscent of Kennedy which is no bad thing in my book.
Some thought it a folly for the band to put out a limited edition vinyl 45 once a month throughout 1992 with the single being officially deleted the day after its release. The plan however, worked a treat with every one of them going into the charts for one week only with the highest placed being #10 and the lowest #26 – the singles actually sold in the exact same quantities, the placing they got depended on how the sales of other singles that particular week had gone.
The singles and the cover versions that made up the b-sides were later compiled onto two separate CD albums entitled Hit Parade 1 and Hit Parade 2. The initial copies of the second of these came with a bonus disc containing exclusive BBC Radio versions of the twelve singles – some had gone out on BBC Radio Leeds, some on the Mark Goodier Show on Radio 1, some on the World Service (I’m not kidding!!!) and some made up one of the many sessions the band recorded for the John Peel show.
5. It’s What You Want That Matters (from the 1987 LP George Best)
A song that had first been aired two years previously on the Peel show when it was known as What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?
I’ve admitted before that I was late to The Wedding Present. I hadn’t given them much attention in the early days simply as the music papers were saying this was the band to fill the Smith-sized void in your life and I just didn’t think at the time that anyone could do such a thing. George Best had been out for the best part of three years when I first got a hold of a copy. This was the initial stand out track for me. And I still love it all this time later.
So there you have my take on ten tracks for a compilation LP. It’s taken me nearly four weeks to deliberate over and determine. I’m sure some of you will take me to task…..and quite rightly!!!!
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Dalliance
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Brassneck (single version)
mp3 : The Wedding Present – My Favourite Dress (live)
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Always The Quiet One
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Kennedy
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Perfect Blue
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Lovenest (edit)
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Flying Saucer (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Wedding Present – It’s What You Want That Matters
The Wedding Present are famous for putting out cover versions as b-sides or for recording them during radio sessions. Here’s a bonus disc to go with the imaginary album
1. The Wedding Present – Happy Birthday
2. The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
3. The Wedding Present – Back For Good
4. The Wedding Present – Let’s Make Some Plans
5. The Wedding Present – Pleasant Valley Sunday
1. The Wedding Present – Theme from Shaft
2. The Wedding Present – Our Lips Are Sealed
3. The Wedding Present – Cattle and Cane
4. The Wedding Present – Felicity
5. The Wedding Present – Box Elder
The originals came from Altered Images, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Take That, The Close Lobsters, The Monkees, Isaac Hayes, The Go-Gos, The Go-Betweens, Orange Juice and Pavement.
Oh and the comment about Felicity being a William Shatner number is not a reference to a track on George Best……it’s a play on words as the song, despite originally being an Edwyn Collins vocal, was in fact composed by James Kirk……….
Click on the song title above for the mp3s