|GOD BLESS yer, Roy Castle, beat that f--ing cancer, because
there's trouble at t'pressing plant, and we may need you come
Christmas. And you, boy, at the back, stop sneering. No, really,
come on, wipe that pathetic Wedding Present sneer off your
face. Because when all else fails, there is The Wedding Present.
When the earth dies screaming, civilisation is ablaze, and all
that we hold dear smoulders on a bonfire of our own making,
there will be...The Wedding Present. Good, frankly.
That 1992 elevates David Lewis Gedge and his earnest,
practically-coiffured mates in denim jackets to the lofty height
of RECORD BREAKERS is nowt to be sniffed (or sneeeered) at.
You hate them for releasing 12 singles in 12 months because it
is a gift of an idea that the Pet Shop Boys, KLF, The Beautiful
South, Napalm Death and all the other eminent pop ironists
never thought of.
It is an ambitious scheme, a glorious scam, a direct hit on the
bedroom collector's market to which the Pressoes so clearly
belong, and, in addition, two fingers to The Man. Ever
considered that? Who scared the shit out of their sponsors
quite as much as The Wedding Present when they informed
RCA that - hey, cheers for not tampering with our tatty albums
thus far but, well, in '92 we will be delivering a dozen new
singles for you to market, promote, plug, place and chart. Deal
with it. All 'indie' bands are signed to Columbia now - how
many of them actually test that eager-to-please 'artistic
control' clause? Ooooh...none?
Enough of my jaundiced views, I feel like a wino on Oxford
Street with a sandwich board that says 'HANDS OFF THE
WEDDING PRESENT'. Truth is, 'earnest' can be a dirty word,
but not when escorted by 'tuneful' and 'inventive'. The Wedding
Present are your junior Fall. Slightly obstinate, unnecessarily
productive, solvent, just amorphous enough, uncool,
Northern, BRILLIANT and taken for granted. Like good health.
This, then, is their fourth LP. No it isn't. It's January to June,
and a surprisingly coherent result considering the split
production credit (Chris Nagle and Ian Broudie). The originals
are confined to Side One, the wacky cover versions to Side Two
- this unbalances 'Part One' as an album but we can live with
that; it's a document rather than a concept, after all.
You know The Wedding Present Sound, it's been
blueprinted since about 1987; there is no brass section, there is
no piano, there is no choir. Healthily scribbled upon by Steve
|Albini in 1990/91, the WP format follows a determined,
love-me-or-loathe-me pattern, very much played down
production-wise, dirty, untamed, frenetic guitar, well-
concealed bass, kindly but fidgetsome drums and that
magnificently unmannered Gedge vocal. It's an unholy
shakedown all told; as indie as pop gets, as pop as indie gets. If
only they were American.
The Wedding Present oeuvre is noise, declaration, sweetness
and fright; guitars tuned to stun; decent men making indecent
music. Fancy a corkscrew ride that teeters past the leisurely,
hay-feverish foxtrot of 'Come Play With Me', then rattles
through 'Go-Go Dancer''s grimy fast-lane fury? These (six)
small-time sonatas ache with the joys of spring and the
discontent of winter, they race you to the ice cream van and
kick you in the shins when you get there. 'Blue Eyes' is mongrel
folk, a sterling celebration with the vintage Gedgism "I tried to
call you/I guess you must've left by then". Make me cry! 'Three'
is a knockabout lament, Gedge buried in the mix a bit but
exercising his right to yodel, mutter, suck, sigh and howl at the
moon simultaneously anyway.
A colleague saw last month's 'Come Play With Me' on TOTP
and thought it was an elaborate practical joke. On the
contrary, this is a mighty, sad (yes, sad, let's reclaim that word
shall we?), waltzing chest-beater whose plaintive yell ("When I
saw you-o-ooo-ou") hits home like Jack Nicholson's crying
scene in Five Easy Pieces. As for those covers on Two - a mixed
bag. Altered Images' 'Think That It Might' gets an organic
re-tread, Grogan's original saccharine harmonies allowing
Gedge to really 'let go'. The Go-Betweens gem 'Cattle And
Cane' gets its hair ruffled good and proper, while the Julee
Cruise meisterwerk 'Falling' becomes the album's high-spot.
Six minutes of immaculate source material dragged to the very
lip of insanity for fun, it is the maelstrom's maelstrom and I
love it like a brother.
Quite why a band so casually revolutionary, so
underhandedly unique are still critically patronised is beyond
my ken. Other reverb dissidents get a fair crack of the whip,
The Wedding Present a mere disinterested swat of the
rolled-up newspaper. So God bless you, Roy Castle, and keep a
window for us in December. You, boy, have six months to
cotton on to this one. Things could get veeeeery dull after
REIGN ON, MY PARADE
New Musical Express 6 June 1992
THE WEDDING PRESENT
The Hit Parade Part One (RCA/All formats)