As you can see from the above picture, it’s nothing to do with R.E.M. and the opening track on New Adventures In Hi-Fi.
In November 2008, The Wedding Present released a mini-box set called How The West Was Won. It came on the back of the album El Rey, on which the band had worked with Steve Albini for the first time in 15 years. I had been a bit underwhelmed by the album, but this was more to do with my advance expectations being sky-high, not just from the fact Albini was involved, but also that Take Fountain, the previous ‘comeback’ album had been exceptional.
I wasn’t sure about shelling out for the box set. It contained 4 EPs, but very little in the way of new material. Three of the EPs were led-off by variations of what, admittedly, were the three best songs on El Rey, while the fourth was a Christmas-type release that had been given a digital release that I, and many fans, had already purchased. There really wasn’t much value for money.
EP 1. The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend – four versions of one song, but all different from the album version.
EP 2. Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Drunk – three versions of one song (one of which was identical to the album version), plus a previously unreleased song.
EP 3. Santa Ana Winds – a slightly edited version of the album tracks along alongside three previously unreleased songs.
EP 4. Holly Jolly Hollywood – it had been billed as first ever Wedding Present Christmas EP and two versions of the title track along with two covers – one being the Bing Crosby classic White Christmas and the other being Back For Good. Yup, the hit song by Take That.
But for some daft reason, I shelled out for it for the box set. I can’t remember what I paid for, £15 or £20 comes to mind. It’s not an extravagantly packaged box set, indeed it’s quite minimal with four discs inside a standard sized box with a small CD sized leaflet with details of all the credits. I downloaded the tracks into the hard drive and put the EP on the shelf alongside the various other CDs by The Wedding Present.
Here’s a track from each of the EPs:-
mp3: The Wedding Present – The Best Thing I Like About Him Is His Girlfriend (Jet Age Remix)
mp3: The Wedding Present – Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Drunk (Team Wah Wah Remix)
mp3: The Wedding Present – Santa Ana Winds (edit)
mp3: The Wedding Present – Holly Jolly Hollywood
The first remix is the work of Eric Tischler, a member of Jet Age, an American indie-rock band from Washington D.C.
The second is the work of Christopher McConville, one-time guitarist with TWP and who was the co-writer of the song – David Gedge is on record as saying Chris is one of the best musicians he’s worked with.
Santa Ana Winds actually opens EL Rey, and the version on the EP is approx. 40 seconds shorter, missing out, in the main, a morse-code type introduction. I’ve a feeling there’s a bit of regret it was never given a physical release as a single.
Finally, the Christmas song that opens EP4….tempting as it was to offer up one of the covers. The female vocal is courtesy of Simone White, an American singer-songwriter much of whose solo material has been released through the London-based Honest Jon’s label, renowned for its extremely eclectic roster of artists and releases.
3 thoughts on “HOW THE WEST WAS WON”
I do wonder if The Wedding Present have more releases than any other band what with all the reissues, compilations, box sets re-re-issues etc. They have a dedicated fanbase willing to buy it all up and why not, if that’s your thing.
I’ve been advised on a number of occasions that I really should listen to Take Fountain. One day, I just might.
I get why you found El Rey a disappointment after Take Fountain ( yes, Flimflanfan do it), but I think there’s plenty to enjoy. The box set though… I passed on it. Thanks for the post. Still not reall tempted.
Enjoyed reading about this curious release. Would recommend
‘Pinch, Twist, Pull, Release’ from this box – a song whose chorus
is the last word in blunt break-up conversations.
Agree that El Rey is a little patchy, but some good stuff on it, like
‘The Trouble With Men’ and ‘Boo Boo’.