England - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 13 - 11/14/97
The Wedding Present
George Best Plus
Cooking Vinyl Records
Allow me to reminisce. It's 1987 in England, Dire Straits
are still selling Brothers In Arms by the thousand and Live
Aid is regarded as a major music event. Daytime radio plays
Wham, Phil Collins and Michael Jackson. Vinyl is still
available in record shops. Alternative music consists of The
Smiths, The Cure and The Mission. For most people the list
ends there. Unless you are a student, you are unlikely to
have heard of My Bloody Valentine or The Pixies.
Smiths have split up and the music press need new darlings.
They pick up on a four-piece band from Leeds, who have been
in the limelight since appearing on the NME's compilation
tape C86, a year before. On the 12th of October 1987, The
Wedding Present release their debut album, George Best,
and a fantastic musical journey begins.
10 years on
and the album has been given a timely re-release, re-mastered
with 9 extra tracks from the period, and another opportunity
to talk about this wonderful, unique band. I say unique
because I can't imagine any other group releasing a record
like George Best, or any of the subsequent albums.
There are no obvious reference points when describing The
Wedding Present's music. Its abrasive guitars and drums, songs
about relationships in conversational style, sung by a man
from Leeds, England.
At the time of the first LP, the
guitars were played fast, very fast, with the treble set to
11. Back then, the song titles were long as well (perhaps
the only similarity to The Smiths, who they were often wrongly
compared to), with album openers Everyone Thinks He Looks
Daft and What Did Your Last Servant Die Of? being good
In 1987, singer and songwriter David Gedge
was about the same age as I am today (25), but somehow when I
listen to these songs now, the lyrics seem so innocent,
immature even, as if they should be sung by an 18 year old.
(Perhaps this is why George Best was so popular with
students at the time?).
I must have walked by this doorway thirty times
Just trying to catch you eye
You made it all worthwhile
When you returned my smile
You're not like anyone
I've ever met
Well, at least not yet
Magic lyrics, but a long way from the spiteful, bitter
outbursts on later records. The presence of I'm Not
Always So Stupid (one of the extra tracks) is a cause for
celebration. It's my favourite Wedding Present song from
their early period and is often the case with the great
songs, it was originally in hiding as a b-side. Top
Every time a car drives past I think it's
Every time somebody laughs I think it's
Each time the doorbell rings it might be
Each letter the postman brings might be from
Classic. My only gripe with this re-issue
is that George Best was remastered and re-issued with
the same bonus tracks on a Canadian CD in 1994. This 10th
anniversary release is clearly aimed at the obsessed fans,
most of whom will have it already. I've got the original
vinyl version, the original CD and the Canadian CD. This
"new" effort is one release too many. But it's nice to see it
widely available in the shops again nevertheless.
Music is about the present and if this record meant
nothing to you in 1987, it shouldn't concern you in 1997, but
for those of us who were there, we have a chance to remember
what it was like again. Probably my least liked and least
played Wedding Present album, but as it's where it all began,
I have a fondness for it.
Nostalgia can be unhealthy,
but there are moments in my life which are soundtracked by
the music of the time. And when The Wedding Present are such
an important part of my life, George Best cannot be
forgotten, and should not. If they re-release
Seamonsters, there really will be cause for
celebration. See you in 2001.
Copyright © 1997 Craig Scrogie