The Wedding Present
`The boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the
Rock `n' Roll Era. You may dispute this, but I'm right and you're
I wonder if I am a bit of an odd ball amongst guitar teachers in that I don't like guitar solos. All that cocky fretboard wankery usually leaves me cold, detracting from the rhythm, message and soul of the song, as all awe-filled eyes are supposed to be directed towards the dexterity of the guy (it's nearly always a guy) caressing his guitar in an ecstasy of orgiastic, pointless noodling.
While some may gawp in wonder, I usually walk out.
No wonder then that I love The Wedding Present.
The reissue of all their albums underlines the fact that the absence of traditional guitar trickery allows the songs to breath. And what great songs they are. 25 years on, the understated lyrics of love and loss, the Yorkshire drawl and the incredible melodies which remain rotating in your brain after a quarter of a century, sound as fresh and original and danceable as ever.
And I am sure that the danceability owes a lot to the guitar playing. Not lacking in ability, the style developed by David Gedge and 'Grapper' (Peter Solowka who went on to form The Ukrainians where he continued to demonstrate his trademark style) focussed on incredibly fast rhythm guitar work. Wonderfully catchy, beautifully unostentatious and surprisingly original, this style was totally appropriate at showcasing the quality of the songs rather than detracting from them, giving space for the downbeat but dead catchy vocal lines to soar and nestle in your brain.
Listening to this reissues I am struck with how fresh, exciting, original and contemporary they still sound. 'You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends', 'Brassneck', 'Crawl' and 'Dalliance' all maintain their original appeal, while the oh so gentle fadeout followed by brutal kick in on 'Bewitched' still makes me jump with a skewered manic pop thrill. To test this out their enduring appeal I taught 'Kennedy' in a guitar lesson last week and my 14 year old student seemed to revel in imitating the style and couldn't wait to play along, so addictive and toetapping and immdeiate and original and thrashy are the songs. Without a wanky guitar solo in sight...
The cover of 'Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)' (complete with [far from wanky] guitar solo!) went down pretty well at my guitar lesson too, while these collections have also reminded me of the indisputable qualities of 'Shatner', 'A Million Miles', 'Lovenest', 'Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft' and so many more.... not forgetting the Girls At Our Best cover! As I'm rambling, honourable mention also needs to go to the live album Live 1988 which catches the band at their energetic, frazzling, wrist-wearing best.
All 8 albums have been beautifully repackaged with 3 CDs and a DVD per release, all packed with all sorts of bonus tracks and video clips featuring radio sessions, B sides, TV appearances and more. Coming complete with a hard back booklet, they are quite justifiably being marketed as the definitive versions of the bands back catalogues and are soon to be followed by high quality vinyl reissues for George Best, Tommy, Saturnalia and Mini, and must be essential collectors items for anyone interested in the development of post punk guitar based indie in the UK. The two I have (so far) Tommy and Saturnalia, show that while personnel and style may have shifted and evolved and even (horrible word) matured over the years, Gedge's ear for a top tune and a thoughtful lyric still remain.
As does his intelligent use of guitars to build a song and underline an idea, rather than destroy it with self indulgent fret work.
Go out and get 'em, boy ..
Buy these CDs individually or as bundles direct from the band's
Thrilled Skinny T Shirt Ahoy ...
Thanks to Ian at 9PR for his help with this piece.