I ADMIT IT….IT WAS THE COVER VERSION I HEARD FIRST

I’ve said before that I didn’t really latch on properly to The Wedding Present until I heard Kennedy being played ay high volume in a record shop. But after that, it was enjoyable going back and listening to the earlier material.

I really liked the song Getting Nowhere Fast, one of their previous b-sides on a 12″ single and included on the CD of George Best, and was intrigued when I spotted, from the fact that it wasn’t a David Gedge composition, that it was a cover version. But the names ‘Alan, Evans, Swift, Oldroyd’ meant nothing to me and in the pre-internet days couldn’t readily be looked up.

It was to be some time before I learned that the original had been by a Leeds band called Girls At Our Best, released in 1980. Even when furnished with that information, I was still none the wiser. Eventually I got to hear the original, via someone putting it on a cassette for me, and fell for its charms. By this time however, it was impossible to track down a copy and it would take until the digital age before I got a decent version without any lo-fi hissing.

Girls At Our Best were Judy Evans (vocals), Jez Alan (guitar), Terry Swift (bass) and Chris Oldroyd (drums) and who formed in 1979 out of two other Leeds bands, S.O.S and The Butterflies.

Getting Nowhere Fast was their debut effort, self-financed and released in April 1980 on their own label Record Records following which Rough Trade put out a second single entitled Politics in November 1980. The drummer then left the band just as they signed to Happy Birthday Records for whom there were two singles and an album, Pleasure, in 1981. The band had enough of a following for the album to reach #60 in the charts but I just can’t recall it or them at all.

According to my big book of indie songs, there was a further single in May 1982 entitled Heaven and released on God Records but there’s no listing on Discogs which means it must be very rare indeed. The band split not long after but with interest in them again on the back of the TWP cover, Strange Fruit in May 1987 would release a Peel Sessions EP that had been broadcast in February 1981.

Here’s the two sides of the debut single:-

mp3 : Girls At Our Best – Getting Nowhere Fast
mp3 : Girls At Our Best – Warm Girls

And here’s the cover, originally on the b-side of the 12″ of Anyone Can Make A Mistake:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Getting Nowhere Fast

JC

AN IMAGINARY VERSION OF A REAL ALBUM

A GUEST CONTRIBUTION FROM STRANGEWAYS

JC writes….

On the day that so many people will meet up for the first ever time it does somehow seem appropriate to feature a guest contribution from one of the number.

Strangeways, like so many of the blogging fraternity, is someone who prefers to hide his light under a bushel. It takes all sorts of arm-twisting and gentle persuasion to get some words and thoughts out of him and I’m really pleased he has given me something so unusual and perhaps provocative just in time for this special and historic day; a post and concept that might well be worth talking about over the weekend….I think just about everyone coming along is a TWP/Gedge fanatic.

Strangways muses…..

Going, Going... is The Wedding Present‘s new – well, latest (Sep 2016) – LP. And weighing in at twenty tracks, it’s a monster.

For Weddoes nuts, the record delivers some absolutely scorching songs. To these ears, phantoms from both the Seamonsters and Saturnalia albums inhabit a fair chunk of the album and there are some massive, thrilling barrages of ‘go fuck yourself’ guitar throughout.

On that musical side, for the most part, it’s hard to imagine a bigger, noisier landscape than when the ‘loud’ component of the trusted ‘quiet/loud/quiet’ blueprint kicks in (check out Wales, with its remote, staccato first half and, in a happy case of influences returning home, its epic, emotional, sock-knocking British Sea Power-ish second). But that the entire thing opens with four curveballs – a quartet of instrumentals/spoken word tracks (special mention to the elegant and otherworldly Marblehead) – indicates that for at least a time we’re in entirely new territory.

I know of some Weddoes sympathisers – think by-election-only Green Party voters – who have been a bit scared off by the number of tracks and, perhaps, also by rumours of those left-turns that open the record. So if you’ve not heard the LP, here are four tracks to give you a taste.

Bells

Elevated by some really terrific female vocals – a welcome thread running through Going, Going… – Bells is a standout. Creeping guitar makes way for one of David Gedge‘s cruellest choruses – and am I finally losing it or is there something of The Cure‘s Lovesong going on in the music?

Rachel

In another world – perhaps even in the recent past on this planet – Rachel, with its classic, killer chorus, would be the Weddoes’ Losing My Religion or Smells Like Teen Spirit. You know the song, the kind of track that makes it, somehow, beyond the borders of the bedroom and the indie disco. The one that mugs you when you’re buying corn flakes. The one that you fell, hopelessly, in love with.

But that was two months and 15,000 involuntary listens ago.

And now you can’t stand it. Anonymously, you send it foul messages in the post. And it’s compelled you to set up a hate group.

Well, with the demise of the single as ‘an actual thing’, at least that won’t happen this time.

Emporia

It took a while for Emporia to grab me. But when it did, it didn’t let go. Don’t let the really lovely, David Lynchy opening fool you. This is a song of two halves in the tradition of say Bewitched or Perfect Blue (and like Perfect Blue, I wish the generously long tail-end was even longer).

Santa Monica

The perfect closer. A lengthy fade-in recalls Seamonsters’ Blonde, whilst, underlining the sense of something ending, a pensive fade-out is reminiscent of Mystery Date from predecessor LP Valentina and also 50s, the track that slowly, reluctantly snuffed out the 2006 Saturnalia album.

Santa Monica is tinted, also, by shades of Cinerama‘s Don’t Touch That Dial and the Weddoes’ Octopussy (a fellow LP-swansong). It matches the scale of Dalliance, whilst the trickling, bending guitar work reminds me of one of the band’s most charismatic numbers: Catwoman. Listen out, also, for a line-check from A Million Miles. It’s a poignant thirty-year echo connecting this latest album with the (touring-this-year) debut, George Best.

Going, Going’s… ominous title coupled with its last line may suggest that the game is up. On this evidence, that would be a shame. It’s one thing for a band that’s all out of ideas to call it quits. Quite another when it fires out an LP that can stand alongside the best of a formidable back catalogue.

Imagining Emporia…

Just to overdo things further, I thought it’d be interesting to grab half of the LP tracks and attempt to staple together a traditional ten-track album.

This is kind of an obnoxious thing to do – especially if you’re aware of the idea at the heart of Going Going… – that each track is linked, and that together, they contribute to a bigger story. It’s a bit like chopping up celluloid and gluing the strips into an under-the-counter Viewer’s Cut. Replacing the lovely sleeve (a shot from the thoughtful series of short films the band commissioned)? More blasphemy. And renaming it? Well, that’s just asking for trouble. Therefore, for those piqued enough to muck around with their LP or Spotify, here it is: Emporia – an imaginary version of a real album.

SIDE 1

Two Bridges
Little Silver
Rachel
Broken Bow
Bells

SIDE 2

Birdsnest
Bear
Emporia
Wales
Santa Monica

Bonus track: Marblehead because the third season of Twin Peaks is approaching, and this sounds like it could be on the soundtrack.

STRANGEWAYS

INSPIRED BY THE TITLE OF LAST SATURDAY’S TUNE

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In 1992, The Wedding Present had set a then record for the number of chart appearances in a calendar year by releasing a new single on the first Monday of each month. As soon as December 1992 was out of the way the band announced that they were parting ways with RCA Records and taking much of 1993 off.

In early 1994 it was revealed that the new label would be Island Records but that original bass player Keith Gregory had left the line-up meaning that David Gedge was now the sole member left from the original line-up. They decamped to the USA to record the new material for the new label with the first release being this 4-track single in September 1994:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Le Bikini
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Flame On
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Him Or Me (What’s It Gonna Be)?

I think it was a major disappointment that the single stalled at #51; indeed the follow-up It’s A Gas fared even worse while the parent album Watusi barely broke the Top 50. These turned out to be the only recordings for Island Records who dropped the band in early 1995.

Looking back, the world wasn’t quite prepared for the sounds made on Watusi. As wiki reports, the songs ranged from warm lo-fi pop (“Gazebo”, “Big Rat”) to semi-psychedelic, Velvets-like workouts (“Click Click”, “Catwoman”). There were also the two fantastic pop singles released as 45s which really deserved better.

Worth mentioning that while the TWP song Flame On is different from that of Captain America featured here three days ago, Him Or Me (What’s It Going To Be)? is a cover of a 1966 hit single (#5 on the US Billboard chart) by Paul Revere & The Raiders.

Have a listen to the original and compare.  TWP make their version so different it sounds like one of their own.

mp3 : Paul Revere & The Raiders – Him or Me (What’s It Gonna Be)?

Enjoy.

 

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (8)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THURSDAY 5 JUNE 2008

(and again on 30 October 2013)

The+Wedding+Present+Kennedy+169732

I came late to The Wedding Present.

I didn’t listen to their early stuff simply because everyone in the press was touting them as the natural successors to the recently disbanded The Smiths, and I just didn’t want to know. I was able to do so, simply because the band got next to no radio play other than late at night, and this was a period of great change in my life when I was never listening to the likes of John Peel.

So, for the best part of four years, my knowledge of the band was restricted to what I read and not what I heard. I do remember being amused that a band from Leeds would release an LP named after the greatest footballer ever to wear the shirt of Manchester United, given the animosity between their fans and those of Leeds United. Still didn’t make me buy it though..

Sometime in 1989, on one Sunday evening, the radio was on as the latest singles chart was being rundown. That was when I first heard a song by The Wedding Present. It was called Kennedy, and it was (as I’ve since discovered from research) a new entry at #33. It was loud, it was frantic, it was joyous and it was something that I immediately fell in love with.

And with that, I became a convert to the church of David Gedge, and I’ve been a faithful member ever since. I’m a regular attendee at the places of worship (ie gigs), and I’ll also contribute as and when required to the coffers (ie records, t-shirts, videos, CDs, etc).

There can’t be all that many indie-bands still going strong 20+ years after their initial formation. OK, so I know that TWP took a short break and turned into Cinerama, and also that for a substantial part of their career they were on major labels such as RCA and Island Records. But you can’t really categorise them as anything other than indie…

There have been 37 singles and 9 original LPs, as well as 15 compilation/live LPs over the years. That must be something in the region of 300 songs – and very few of these, even the most obscure of b-sides, have ever been total duffers.(that was the figure back in 2008….there’s been much to admire over the past 8 years since and the ststement is still valid)

They’re also a band with a love for cover versions, with around 50 or so being widely available now thanks to the relatively recent release of all the Peel Sessions in a boxset. And every one of those covers, whether it’s a pop, soul, blues, rock, country or disco classic sounds instinctively like a Wedding Present original.

But I still don’t think they’ve ever bettered the song that first made my ears prick up and listen. Even now, almost 20 years on it remains a live favourite, although David now always follows it up with a slow-tempo number so that the old folk jumping around down the front get their breath back and avoid the risk of a permanent injury. None of us are as young or fit as we once were, and pogo-ing up and down is, at best, achievable for a maximum of 5 minutes at one stretch.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Kennedy
mp3 : The Wedding Present – One Day All This Will All Be Yours
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Unfaithful
mp3 : The Wedding Present – It’s Not Unusual *

* Yes, the Tom Jones song…..

All taken from the original 12” release, but also available on the remixed and remastered edition of the 1989 LP Bizzaro.

Incidentally, if this series didn’t have the restriction of one song by one act, there would have been at least another 4 TWP singles right in there…

NOBODY DOES IT BETTER….

lovenest

…..than David Gedge when it comes to penning stuff about relationships.

Whether its been with The Wedding Present or Cinerama or The Wedding Present once again, David has written and recorded umpteen (that’s a word I like to use when I don’t know the precise number) songs of quality and distinction about meeting someone, falling for someone, being with someone, wanting someone who is unattainable, and most of all…..how you feel about someone after the love has gone.

He’s written songs from all sorts of perspectives – as someone who is angry, hurt, sad, bemused and even relieved that a relationship has run its course.

But mostly its songs by someone with a broken heart.

Now I daren’t think that all of the songs are autobiographical – if they are, his heart must be in billions of pieces by now. The most amazing thing is that the accompanying tunes never fall into the category of maudlin or dirge-like.

I’ve a mate who once said, “You know, The Wedding Present have only one tune…..but it’s a fucking cracking one at that”

My mate of course had her tongue firmly in her cheek, for there is no argument that David Gedge has proven himself as one of the UK’s best ever word AND tunesmiths.

Here’s one of my favourite examples:-

I heard another voice this morning on the ‘phone
But just the other day I thought you said you slept alone

And yes I knew that laughter, okay, now I see
You wouldn’t even know him if it hadn’t been for me

Sometimes in the fading light
I can’t help thinking back to, well, the way we were

Then I start feeling guilty lying next to her
I know, and it can’t be right

Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away
Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away

If you write again perhaps you shouldn’t send it here
It’s just that I don’t really want your letters to appear

Oh no, I just think she might
Forget I ever said that I’m just being scared

I told her all about you and I don’t think she even cared
I know but it’s not alright

Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away
Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away

And does the thought of leaving him brings you to tears?
I bet you never felt the same about me all those years

Well you know, just what it’s like

Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away
Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away

And then there’s the unnerving and unsettling music that never quite finds a steady rhythm or beat thanks to its constant change in volume and tempo.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Lovenest

And while I’m here, I may as well let you have a listen to the other three songs which are on the 12” version of this single:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Mothers
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Dan Dare
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Fleshworld

As with just about every single the band released around that period in time, there was an unusual choice of song for a cover version. In this case it was Mothers which was originally by Jean Paul Sartre Experience, a rather obscure (to most folk) new wave band from New Zealand.

Enjoy.

THIS YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Postscript 2)

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Today sees the second and final part of the look back at A Different Kind of Tension, the 10-track compilation released in 1986. Here’s the b-side of the album:-

1. The Beloved – A Hundred Words
2. Vee VV – The Romance Is Over
3. Stump – Kitchen Table
4. The Wedding Present – Once More
5. The Shamen – Happy Days

The Beloved, in their dance guise, were featured a couple of months back. It’s hard to believe that it is the same band who would go onto enjoy such massive success with the club crowds in the early 90s. But before they were embraced by the dance brigade, The Beloved were just another indie-pop guitar band. This is actually their debut single from April 1986 on Flim Flam Records which made #15 in the UK Indie Chart (which I’m guessing amounted to about 5,000 sales).

mp3 : The Beloved – A Hundred Words

The next lot needed a bit of detective work on the t’internet. They emerged from the ashes of a band called Tunnelvision who released one single, entitled Watching The Hydroplanes, on Factory Records in 1981. And no, I can’t say I’ve ever heard it. They seem to have been an act signed on a whim by Tony Wilson after they appeared on the bill at the first ever New Order gig in Blackpool. Anyway, it seems they were a band that were continually slated by the music press and continually compared to Joy Division.

Members of Tunnelvision would, in due course, form Vee VV. The band recorded a flexi single for a music magazine before releasing a double-side 7″ single on Cathexis Records  and the track featured today was part of that artefact. A second 12″ single soon followed and Vee VV gained some exposure through support slots for My Bloody Valentine, Stone Roses and the afore-mentioned New Order. But before long they had broken up unwilling to embrace Madchester.

mp3 : Vee VV – The Romance Is Over

Stump were an Anglo-Irish band that featured former members of Microdisney.

This is the only track of the ten on the compilation that hadn’t been released at the time, although it would eventually appear on the Quirk Out mini-LP that came out in late 1986 on Stuff Records. The band would gain enough fame to be featured on the covers of both the NME and Melody Maker, and there was enough of a buzz about them that they eventually inked a deal with Ensign Records who released the LP A Fierce Pancake in 1988, from which the single Charlton Heston reached #72 in the UK singles charts. But the album did not bring the crossover success the label had hoped for and, after recording a few b-sides and some demos, they split before 1989 was over.

mp3 : Stump – Kitchen Table

Ah….the wonderful Weddoes. This was a very early single from 1986. ‘Nuff said.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Once More

The final track on the compilation is technically, the first ever single by The Shamen, released on One Big Guitar in 1985. The band had changed their name from Alone Again Or and moved to a different record label after just two singles. Frontman Colin Angus was one of the first to realise that indie-pop didn’t guarantee fame and fortune, and by mid-1988 the band was down to a two-piece who were more focused on dance. Four years later they were among the biggest acts in the UK with a string of chart hits including the unforgettable (not necessarily in a positive way!!) Ebeneezer Goode which was #1 for a number of weeks in August 1992.

By the mid-late 90s, the band had turned their backs on commercial soundimg dance music and frustrating the life out of their record label bosses at One Little Indian. The Shamen called it a day in 1999, but will be remembered fondly by a great many clubbers of a certain generation. However, they would be hard pushed to recognise this as one of their songs:-

mp3 : The Shamen – Happy Days

And that concludes the look back at the songs of 1986 for this series at least. Tune in next week for something going back even further in time….

Enjoy

AN IMAGINARY EVENING WITH MUSICIANS


A guest contribution from xxxjim

DinnerParty-MAIN

Hey JC

This is a change from an imaginary compilation, but I’m pretty sure I could do one for almost every singer/band mentioned – now there’s a challenge!

Anyway, a comment made a while ago got me thinking. It was on a Wedding Present / Cinerama related posting and it was along the lines of David Gedge being someone that the commenter, paulb3015 would most like as a friend.

I know it’s never a good idea to meet your heroes but I still think it would be great to spend an evening in the company of these musicians. I guess they all seem quite approachable to me and the sort of people that have a lot of stories and would be fun to be around.

So I give you the eight musicians I’d love to spend an evening with, be it for a beer or two or a meal all round a table, shooting the breeze. Eight seems about the right number – enough that you’d get to talk to everyone but not too many that no one can hear what anyone else is saying. And it would have to be the right mix of musicians – not too many egos.

They are not necessarily my all time favourite musicians or my favourite bands – in some cases they are – I just think they are all interesting people. One thing a lot of them have in common is that they like to tell a story when you see them live – I know that it can be the same story every night but as long as it seems like it’s off the cuff, I’m happy with that.

I haven’t worked out a seating plan but obviously there’s be two seats reserved for Mr and Mrs Vinyl Villain.

Kristin Hersh

Her music has been a constant in my life since I was about 18 – I’ve kind of grown up with her. I’m not an obsessive fan but I do try and see her whenever she performs. One of only two famous people to reply to me on Twitter (not that I use it very often), which makes her an all round nice person. (The other one was David Gedge)

mp3: Kristin Hersh – Sundrops (from ‘Hips and Makers’ LP)

Colin Meloy

Because he seems like a good bloke – a lot of The Decemberists’ songs are stories and he spins a good yarn on stage so I’m sure there would be plenty to talk about.

mp3 : The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song (from ‘The Hazards of Love’ LP)

David Gedge

I don’t need to explain this one – I’m pretty sure that every reader of TVV would want to have a beer with David Gedge.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Give My Love To Kevin (acoustic) (from ‘George Best (plus)’ LP)

Leonard Cohen

I thought maybe Prince would be entertaining but I imagine everyone would just sit there dumbstruck thinking ‘Bloody hell – it’s Prince’ and no-one saying a word. Either that or he’d play ping pong with everyone and thrash them. But I thought it would be good to have an absolute megastar at the table, and someone much older – and someone who has been a hero of mine since my art student days. He’d bring a touch of wisdom to proceedings and his fantastic gravelly voice. And you never know he might feed us tea and oranges that come all the way from China.

mp3 : Leonard Cohen – Slow (from ‘Popular Problems’ LP)

Viv Albertine

A year ago she wouldn’t have been a dinner guest but her memoir ‘Clothes, Music, Boys’ is great – the best music book I’ve read this year – better than Kim Gordon and better than Eddie Argos (seriously). And she seems like a nice person – and normal. And because I love this song which is one of my favourite songs of the year (even though it came out a while ago, it’s new to me).

mp3 : Viv Albertine – Confessions of a MILF  (from ‘The Vermillion Borders’ LP)

Gruff Rhys

Because he took a puppet around America to try and find a Welsh-speaking tribe of native Americans. And he made a powerpoint presentation about it. And an album. And he weaves it all into a great story. And obviously because he is a Super Furry Animal.

mp3 : Gruff Rhys – Iolo (from ‘American Interior’ LP)

Holly Johnson

The first pop star that I really idolized – about 10 years ago I saw him in a shop and I was too star struck to go and say hello. His memoir is also worth a read.

mp3 : Frankie Goes to Hollywod – Relax (7” single)

Nicky Wire

The second Welshman – he’d make sure that it wasn’t all back slappery and coziness. Plus, if all else fails we can talk about sport – and he can give my daughter tips on applying eyeliner.

mp3 : Manic Street Preachers – Europa Geht Durch Mich (from ‘Futurology’ LP)

Anyway, I hope you like it – and it’s the sort of thing that fits in well on TVV.

cheers

xxxjim