England - Full Moon 247 - 10/16/16
The Wedding Present
The Wedding Present (TWP) have been going on almost forever. Well, David Gedge has been going on forever. Almost. Gedge is the founder and only life-long member of TWP, and with Going,
Going... he/they are up with the ninth Wedding Present studio album since their legendary 1987 debut, George Best.
Exit 1980s. Enter 2016. Four years after their last record, Valentina (2012), TWP launch a new album... but
[in oh, so typical, Wedding Present style] it will not be merely an album! Oh, no... Going, Going... will actually be a collection of twenty 'linked' tracks, each with a beautiful
accompanying film. Given the nature of this unique project, Going, Going... will come in a variety of audio-visual formats.' (the Scopitones label). Gedge (and his TWP) has
always been something on the side in the world of indie rock of the 'C86 format' tag. They have explored Ukrainian folk roots. They have been fond of all vinyl formats. The 10". The 7", just
remember the Hit Parade stunt: launching one single a month, reaching the national charts in the UK. And their career was boosted by having legendary radio DJ John Peel [RIP] as a
devoted fan. This quote sums it all: "...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 wrong!" (John Peel).
I have been a big fan for years, from way back to the 80s. I still remember when I picked up and bought George Best. Their first three albums was a smashing hat trick of records. Their
Hit Parade year was both good and fascinating. Even though I wasn't that impressed by their mid-90s period, I didn't stop being a devoted fan. In 2005, I was charmed and taken by their
sixth album, Take Fountain - which was their first album in 9 years (also due to Gedge's second band project, Cinerama), and indeed a 'break up' album. The
break-up between Gedge and girlfriend Sally [Murrell, who started up Cinerama with Gedge - primarily as a duo] at the end of 2002 saw Gedge leaving Leeds relocating to Seattle, Washington,
USA. In late 2006 Gedge relocated (temporarily to) West Hollywood, California. Eventually, after a couple of years he returned to UK, landing himself in Brighton (where he curates the annual,
one-day festival At The Edge Of The Sea - named after the flipside of the second TWP single, Once More, 1986). After the return with Take Fountain, TWP recorded and launched
another pair of albums, which, well... didn't blow me away. But they didn't lose me either and I'd better dig back into 2008's El Rey and 2012's Valentina... The latter was in
fact re-recorded/'re-vamped' and released last year by/as Cinerama!
Enter 2016. Enter Going, Going.... Leading man David Gedge (vocals, guitar, and percussion) is still backed by drummer Charles Layton, who's been with TWP since 2009 (with a short stint
back in 2005 as well), plus newcomers (meaning new since 2013) Samuel Beer-Pearce (guitar) and Katharine Wallinger (bass and backing vocals). Going, Going... is a smashing return by
TWP! Singles, or, rather digital tasters "Bear" and "Rachel" were launched in July, and "Birdnest" followed in late August. Finally Going, Going... arrived as a 20 track album where
(as I have already mentioned) each songs has an accompanying film/video (available as a DVD with the album, either if it is on vinyl or CD). It has been said that several of the tracks were inspired
by a road-trip across USA by Gedge and photographer Jessica McMillan. I guess quite a few of these appear as instrumentals (yes, there are several!) or backdrops for some of the songs. Going,
Going... opens with four(!) instrumentals: "Kittery", "Greenland" (which has got a 'spoken word' sample of Greenland's longitude/latitude coordinates), "Sprague", and the indeed fine "Marblehead" (holding
soft, hushed 'ah-ah-ah-aaah' vocal parts by Wallinger), before the first 'real' song, "Two Bridges", appears as a trademark, old-school TWP song with jangly indie-guitars. Neat.
"Little Silver" is a tender and smashing song, with rough guitars. One of my favourite tracks off this album which holds a mixture of songs, from toned down tracks imploding and exploding
("Emporia") to short, punk-spirited ones ("Secretary"). The single "Bear" is another fine, classic TWP song. As the album unveils I must confess that Gedge (and his players) has produced an
album showing a band that is highly relevant today. Who would've thought that TWP would live on more than 25 years after their prime? Well, I did not, even though I never stopped being a fan.
Of course, the album is a bit too long. I means, 20 songs, 1 hour and 18 minutes long! Yet, here are plenty of great moments, even though there are a few (but only a few) fillers. To name some
of the highlights: I have already mentioned "Two Bridges", "Little Silver", and "Bear", plus the sweet and raw "Broken Bow", the catchy, quick-step "Ten Sleep", and the superb "Rachel". Not
to forget the closing "Santa Monica", which is an epic, bulldozing tune. It is lengthy, yes, but not a second too long. I also like the awkward sounding, 'Welsh crash-course' "Wales", which could
count as an 'instrumental' as well. Well done. lads and gal!
Some songs are Cinerama-tinted, while others are pure TWP pop (or rock). All things summed up, Going, Going is TWP's best album for years. The performance is ace, with perfect guitars
and instrumentation, plus great song writing (many songs co-written between Gedge, Beer-Pearce and Layton) if you are up for some classic 'indie rock' - if that is a 'genre' still making sense.
Not to forget Gedge's excellent, pinpointing lyrics, describing love and such. Peel was right. Still is.
PS! Aim for the deluxe double LP + DVD version, which comes in heavyweight vinyl - including the album on CD, plus a bonus 7" single with nice, acoustic versions of "Bells" [Piano Version], "Broken Bow" [Acoustic Version], "Rachel" [Acoustic Version], and "Little Silver" [Piano Quintet Version].
PPS! Ever since the late 80s, TWP has released a long line of live tapes (on the C60 cassette format) through their fan club services, and this series has been re-released on CD over the
last ten years on their own Scopitones label: Live 1987 (2007); Live 1988 (2010); Live 1989 (2010); Live In Leeds (2010); Live 1990 (2012); Live 1991
(2012); Live 1992 (2013); plus this year's Live 1993. Perfect documentation of a band that would not die. Going, going, going, going....
PPS! 'The week after its release the band ran at five specially selected small venues across Great Britain. Each night Going, Going... will be performed, in its entirety,
in front of a screen onto which the accompanying films will be projected.' (Scopitones)
Copyright © 2016 Håvard Oppøyen