|THE SEVEN-INCH single is about to die.
Think about it. The chunky plastic coins that once mapped
out the progress of millions upon millions of adolescences are
the component parts of a culture that still retain a tear-jerking
romance: Top Of The Pops, proper jukeboxes, Sunday
evenings spent crouching next to the radio to hear the Top 40.
They're all expiring, forced into the afterlife by multi-
formatting, declining sales, The Chart Show and Altern 8.
Still, never mind, eh? The Old World isn't quite dead. It's
found its last champion in a scruffy ex-student who loves the
seven-inch single like a close relative. He likes appearing on
TOTP. He's probably a bit miffed that Pan's People weren't
around to shake their stuff to his records. So he hatched the
one-45-a-month scheme to guide several thousand Wedding
Present fans through the last traces of the things that
probably made him pick up a guitar in the first place.
As well as indicating the terminal nature of the Old World's
illness (industry bigwigs have seized upon the apparent
success of the exercise as prime evidence of the bankruptcy of
the singles chart), the Weddoes' one-year plan has
highlighted much of what we'll be missing. Like the warming
certainty that comes from knowing that what you've bought
is the definitive article (as opposed to "part one of an
exclusive collector's edition"). Like the beautifully simple
coupling of seriously-constructed A-sides and flips that
contain all manner of weird daftness. Like the reassuring
"clunk" made by record players when the music has finally
been swamped by static and come to a close.
In this instance, such thrills were only available to the hardy
souls who got up early once a month and trooped down to
their local Our Price. The rest of us have to make do with the
two 'Hit Parade' collections, which take the whole project
away from its romantic seven-inch setting and leave it
vulnerable to all sorts of criticism. After all, without the
matching art work, hot-off-the-presses excitement, and clicks
and pops and clunks, much of the appeal of these records is
The B-sides are the perfect case in point. The six (spanning)
June to December) that are collected here frequently plumb
the depths of dashed-off stupidity, sounding like the work of
people who've mistakenly let their rehearsal-room jokes into
the public domain. There's a certain ham-fisted charm to the
Weddoes' rendition of Bowie's 'Chant Of The Ever Circling
Skeletal Family', but the reading of Bow Wow Wow's 'Go Wild
In The Country' is wince-inducing rubbish. 'Theme From Shaft'
SINGLES GOING UNSTEADY
New Musical Express 2 January 1993
THE WEDDING PRESENT
Hit Parade II (RCA/All formats)