The Wedding Present
Leeds’ The Wedding Present is one of those bands that inspires fanatical following among a select few and massive rounds of head-scratching among the rest. David Gedge’s “frog-in-me-throat” voice and the band’s frantic guitar chainsawing often disguise a lyrical sensibility that (sadly) remains a best-kept secret. Several US labels have tried — and failed — to bring the Wedding Present the popular acclaim that they assuredly deserve on this side of the Atlantic, and have ended up with not much beyond an impressive pile of rave reviews and a disheartening larger pile of unsold records.
This two-disc collection of singles and tracks dates from the RCA years, the time in which I first discovered the Wedding Present. As much as I’d like to think that everyone should own this disc, I’ll admit that its real value lies in its collection of rare, live and unreleased material, despite its “singles” nature. The five RCA singles themselves are quickly done with, leaving the balance of disc one to be those additional tracks released with the singles. Most of the material fits in nicely with the Bizarro years, dense fuzz overlaid on a bittersweet core. Of particular note is “She’s My Best Friend,” a cover of the Velvet Underground song, which forsakes the Weddoes’ full frontal attack for a subtle moment of quiet.
The second disc contains some rare tracks, and a large selection of live material, ranging from a wider spectrum of the band’s career to that point. The live material shows the band in rare form, frantically bashing on their instruments in order to keep up with the songs’ tempo, with a couple of exceptions. Even slowed down, the power of the music is inexorable, and you quickly realize that the Wedding Present earned their UK fame and fortune not only on their sparkling singles, but their energetic live shows.
Overall, this two-disc set is essential to any Wedding Present library. Being a band whose output always outpaces a labels’ ability to get it in the hands of the masses has its advantages and disadvantages; a big hug of thanks to Manifesto for rounding up all this material and making it available once again.
Manifesto Records, 5967 West 3rd Street, Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90036-2835