Tuesday 26th October, 2004.
Ask any self
respecting indie-kid what the big come back event of this year was
and they’re likely to reply with one word, ‘Morrissey’. The more
enlightened of them may suggest ‘The Pixies’. But with this record
those suddenly become yesterday’s news. In the seven years from 1997
that Morrissey took to get it together with ‘You Are The Quarry’
David Lewis Gedge disbanded The Wedding Present, formed Cinerama,
wrote, recorded and released three studio albums, two collections of
singles and b-sides, two more Peel Session compilation albums, and
to top it all two Live albums. And now he has recorded a record that
had strayed back over the line into Wedding Present territory, and
thus reassumed the name ‘The Wedding Present’. If you look up
‘prolific’ in the dictionary it’ll just have three letters for the
Cinerama had principally been a project with Gedge’s long term
girlfriend, Sally Murrell, and with the demise in their relationship
during 2002 he had by his own admission ‘started writing songs that
were much darker, and clearly influenced by the despair he felt over
the split’. Recording the new material took place in Seattle and
Chicago with Steve Fisk at the production helm. He had previously
worked with the band on the 1994 album ‘Watusi’ and was perhaps
regarded by fans as injecting a softer sound into the equation.
However, with the new batch of songs I can safely say that The
Wedding Present have not been watered down in any way.
‘Interstate 5’ single precedes a long player, ‘Take Fountain’,
currently slated for a release during February 2005, and during the
recording of which it became apparent that ‘this was a Wedding
Present record, not a Cinerama record’ – thus the name change.
title track is a fans favourite since airings on K.E.X.P. (Seattle)
and John Peel’s radio shows and had an immediate impact on their
spring tour this year. It is a tale of...
this point, a message has just arrived in my email, it tells me that
John Peel is dead. I went to the B.B.C. site and found confirmation,
and immediately feelings of disbelief are battling with feelings of
sadness. The man who championed so many bands, and so much brilliant
music; the man who single handedly lead to my teenage years being
spent with my finger hovering above the ‘record’ button on my
stereo, and the man who all those years ago introduced me to David
Gedge and The Wedding Present, to The Smiths, to The Undertones, to
The Fall and to a thousand other bands that now litter my record
collection, is gone. I never knew the man, but he played a vital
role in my life. Goodbye John, goodbye.
Friday 29th October, 2004.
stopped writing at that point, to be honest, it felt like there were
more important things to think about than some rock and roll tunes.
After a few days however I have decided to continue where I left
off, there are couple of reasons for this, firstly, I owe it to the
band to complete the review that I promised, and so I shall; and
secondly, and certainly more importantly, the sense of loss I felt
upon hearing the news of Johns death brought home to me just how
much of an influence he had on my life – simply by him recognising
himself just how important these tunes, these songs, these three
minute slices of life are. How many times have you found yourself
leaping around the room to a tune wondering how the writer managed
to be so in tune with how you were feeling? How many times have you
sat in a room, on your own, in floods of tears, with a broken heart,
or crucified with the pain of loss listening to a record and
wondering just how they managed to capture just how you were
feeling? How many times have you been comforted by these songs?
don’t need to answer that, but I hope it makes you understand why I
am continuing with this review. I am sure it is what John would have
wanted us to do. Music was so important in his life, he showed us
what it meant to love music, he taught us so much, and now we must implement
what we learned during all those late night lessons.
So yeah, here it is, Interstate 5, fans of
Cinerama and The Wedding Present will be familiar with the track, as
I have said, from radio sessions and from last spring’s tour. This
version may not be as raw as some of those radio session versions –
but that is the beauty of those sessions, limited time to get what
you can down on tape always means that the finished product is never
going to be a highly polished artefact. But saying that, it is not
over produced, and it is certainly not squeaky clean. The song
itself is a brutal tale of a woman who wants a one night stand and a
man who wants more, and the ragged, driving guitars provide a
perfect soundtrack to the self
loathing and desolation that he feels in the aftermath of it all. The lack of any obviously
melodious hook line suits the mood of the song perfectly, and as a
result the song is more of a slow grower than an instant
hit. It's not a toe-tapper, and it won't have the casual listener
humming the tune on the tube, it's a dirty, earthy, grinding,
wrenching epic, it's a cry from the darkness ("I needed to stay
near, in case you suddenly remembered that I'm still alive..."),
it's an admission of heartbreak ("Well, I'll remember how your
eyes sparkled in the moonlight..."). In simple terms, it's
classic Gedge, unfettered, unwavered, unadulterated.
I had initially thought that songs such as ‘Edinburgh’
(now seemingly re-named 'I'm From Further North Than You' - but will
continue to be referred to as 'Edinburgh' as an illustration of the
writers stubborn nature) and
‘Ringway to SeaTac’ from those recent sessions would have been more
obvious choices for singles – but saying that, I do like being
proved wrong, and over the week or so that I have been listening to
this record I have indeed grown to love it. I will however recommend,
that you play it fucking loud, the song deserves it.
Second track, ‘Bad Things’ is reminiscent of ‘Seamonsters’ era
Wedding Present. The scuzzy guitars are right out of Albini’s ‘How
to be a good Engineer Handbook’, the only difference being that the
vocals are much higher in the mix, and therefore the song is a
little more accessible than is predecessors. The guitar sound is
that 'smooth distorted sound, without the frequencies interfering
and overloading' that David was so ardently pursuing on 'George
Best' (much to Chris Allisons chagrin I believe), and the vocals are
a subtle battle from male and female perspectives. It's a driven,
cascading salvo of guitar noise, it's a six string M4 pile up, it's
bloody great. I do feel however that knowing how The Wedding Present
operate in the live setting this song
will take on a new lease of life from the stage. Bring on the Gedge wall of sound.
track, ‘Snapshots’ is stunningly gorgeous. It is perhaps the song
that bridges the gap between Cinerama and The Wedding Present. It's
in the same mould as 'And When She Was Bad', or 'Health and
Efficiency' with the soft/loud/soft/loud arrangement. The opening
delicate arpeggios and lush backing vocals hint at Cinerama, whilst
the quasi-anthemic chorus points towards the bands new direction
before settling back into the warm arms of the next verse.
‘Snapshots’ is my initial favourite of the three tracks on offer
here - not surprising as Gedge has a reputation for writing
brilliant b-sides instead of cluttering up multiple version cd
singles with re-mixes and second rate songs. I don’t know why I
favour this track,
it just sort of hit me from the start, and listening to it now, in
the light of what has happened since I started writing this piece,
the words take on a whole new significance, and to be honest, it’s a
battle to keep my emotions in check...
“The things you said, the friend you
became, to me you’ll always stay exactly the same...and that’s
How strange to think you’ll never,
have to worry about growing old, counting wrinkles and the
not my record, and maybe I have no right to do this, but I’m going
to say that this one is for John, he would have loved it.
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