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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 192 - 05/06/12

The Wedding Present
Valentina
Scopitones

Yes, I've been a fan of The Wedding Present (TWP) for years, since I bought George Best back in (uh, dear I say it...): 1987. I probably hold Norway's biggest collection of TWP records. Yet, it's a bit odd to hear a new TWP record in 2012. I'm not the die-hard fan I used to be, but I still appreciate David Gedge and his song writing. Somehow, it's still my cup of tea.

Valentina is Gedge's and TWP's 8th studio album, and it's been four years since the band's previous album, El Rey (2008). This new Valentina is also a farewell/welcome to some old/new players: bassist Terry De Castro, who's been teaming up with Gedge since the Cinerama days, is out of the band. But, she's co-written a song, and has contributed some backing vox. Graeme Ramsay (guitars, piano, harmonium, and former drummer - he's also the co-writer of all but one song), who's been in TWP since 2006, left the band shortly before the album was released (a launch event took place at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, TX). The new bass-lady who replaced de Castro is named Pepe le Moko -- quite a funny name, since it's the title of a French movie classic from 1937 (starring Jean Gabin). Last guy is Charles Layton (on drums and percussion), who's been in the band since 2009 (well, he sat in for some jobs when touring Take Fountain), making this his first TWP album. Well, it seems they're one guitarist short for the moment. I still don't imagine Gedge a new Mark E. Smith, even though the list of former TWP personnel is long.

After the first spins Valentina sounds like 10 songs (an extra track, "Pain Perdu" exists as a digital download only) following the old TWP path, the same old Gedge song formula. Then, the songs unveil, the album comes sneaking up on you. Yes, this for sure is a grower, and the most melodic and catchy TWP album for years. After a while I even rate it over Take Fountain. Yes, and since I never got much into the world of Cinerama, Valentina even beat the mid-90s TWP releases post Seamonsters, mind you!

Valentina is a bouncing piece of Weddo-rock. Guided by dry and snappy guitars, tip-toe and vibrant rhythms, and - last but not least - Gedge's witty and cunning lyrics. He's for sure an excellent wordsmith, and he's still got a crush on the cinematic world (just check out single choice "You Jane"). Highlights: "You're Dead", "Back a Bit... Stop", "Deer Caught in the Headlights", "Stop Thief!", "End Credits", and the closing "Mystery Date". I caught TWP's live performance in Oslo last year, when they did Bizarro, and I'll probably be present next time around as well.

Copyright © 2012 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Wedding Present articles/reviews: Evening Sessions 1986-1994, George Best Plus, George Best, Going, Going..., Interstate 5, Live 1987, Take Fountain, The Hit Parade singles.

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© 2012 Luna Kafé