WHOEVER CONTROLS THE BACK CATALOGUES OF BOTH MORRISSEY AND HIS FORMER BAND COULD LEARN A THING OR TWO FROM A GROUP WHICH, IN ITS EARLY DAYS, WAS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS THE TYPICAL SMITHS FAN’S SECOND FAVOURITE. THE FIRST EIGHT ALBUMS FROM THE WEDDING PRESENT – INCLUDING THE ESSENTIAL GEORGE BEST, BIZARRO AND SEAMONSTERS – WILL BE REISSUED IN CAREFULLY CURATED, EXTENSIVE AND HIGHLY DESIRABLE FOUR-DISC SETS THIS AUTUMN.
Released through Edsel on 20th October, the albums are 1987 debut GEORGE BEST, compilation TOMMY (1988, the material on which predates GEORGE BEST), BIZARRO (1989), SEAMONSTERS (1991), the compilation of record-breaking HIT PARADE singles (1992), WATUSI (1994), MINI (1996) and the pre-Cinerama swansong SATURNALIA (also 1996). A remastered version of each is housed in a hardback book which contains (for the first time) lyrics alongside extensive liner notes plus imagery and memorabilia from the era of original release. Also included in each set is a DVD featuring promo videos, contemporary live and TV appearances plus an interview with David Gedge focusing on the relevant album and a new acoustic session track (recorded in his flat in Hove). Two additional CDs per set gather together almost every b-side and non-album track alongside alternate versions and previously unreleased demos, (mostly BBC) radio sessions and full concert recordings. Gedge has mined his personal archive and worked with Edsel at every stage to ensure that these releases tell the ‘definitive’ story of The Wedding Present’s first decade.
A handful of singles (including 1985 debut GO OUT AND GET ‘EM, BOY and, in 1986, ONCE MORE and YOU SHOULD ALWAYS KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FRIENDS, all included on 1988 compilation TOMMY) were issued on The Wedding Presents’ own Leeds-based Reception Records prior to the recording of GEORGE BEST. Named after the charismatic, often wayward, Manchester United footballer – and with an iconic shot on the sleeve (Best also appeared in a photoshoot with the band in exchange for £500 cash) – the 1987 debut album was an adrenaline rush of indie guitar and pop melody. Amongst the extras on the new edition are all tracks from the NOBODY’S TWISTING YOUR ARM and WHY ARE YOU BEING SO REASONABLE NOW? singles alongside the first session recorded for John Peel, a lengthy Swedish radio session, a Rotterdam concert from 1988 and the previously unreleased video for single MY FAVOURITE DRESS. The new edition of TOMMY includes a 1987 concert from Leicester and four BBC radio sessions. Signed to RCA, a bizarre but brief diversion into Ukranian folk music followed the Reception Records era before the band began to ‘cross over’ with 1989’s toughened BIZARRO. A pair of hit singles – KENNEDY and BRASSNECK – hit the UK Top Thirty meaning a memorable, mumbling, debut appearance on TOP OF THE POPS. Extra material on the new edition of BIZARRO includes covers of Tom Jones’ IT’S NOT UNUSUAL and Penetration’s DON’T DICTATE, previously unreleased demos for KENNEDY, NO, TAKE ME! and UNFAITHFUL, a Peel session plus a live recording from his 50th birthday concert, a 1989 Frankfurt gig, videos for the two singles, live footage, the TOP OF THE POPS appearance for BRASSNECK and a new acoustic version of THANKS.
The Steve Albini-produced THREE SONGS (including an incendiary version of Cockney Rebel’s MAKE ME SMILE (COME UP AND SEE ME), once described by its writer Steve Harley as the only cover to have ‘got’ the true essence of the song) led into much darker waters on 1991’s SEAMONSTERS. Additional material on the new edition includes two BBC radio sessions, two concert recordings (Wembley Arena and Uppsala), the previously unreleased video for DALLIANCE and a new acoustic version of DARE. Within twelve months David Gedge was making his bid to beat Elvis Presley’s long-held record for most chart singles in a year – and succeeded. Every month of 1992 saw a new 7″ released as a limited edition, leading to twelve Top Thirty singles and a quartet of TOP OF THE POPS appearances (most memorably in white boiler-suits and facemasks for FLYING SAUCER). The HIT PARADE compiled all twelve singles (including cover version b-sides – Isaac Hayes, Barry Gray, Elton John, Neil Young et al), and additional material on the new edition includes the version of BOING! only released on the original vinyl single, a US radio remix of BLUE EYES, four BBC sessions (one of which features SOFTLY SOFTLY, unrecorded and unavailable elsewhere – though eventually forming the basis of later single YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH), a concert from The Hague, all videos (including two alternate versions), the band’s TOP OF THE POPS showings and a new acoustic version of THE QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE.
The effervescent WATUSI, originally released on Island in 1994, had a lighter tone and a more considered production sheen – arguably marking Gedge’s first move towards his soundtrack-influenced ‘other band’ Cinerama, particularly on the understated keyboard lament SPANGLE. Extra material on the new edition includes a set of four alternate versions previously only released on an American promo 10″, three BBC radio sessions (including a scintillating full-band Peel session take of SPANGLE), two concerts (Rouen and Phoenix Festival), the 1960s US TV-influenced ‘sex ‘n’ spies’ video for YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH and an appearance on Esther Rantzen’s daytime TV chat show for SWIMMING POOLS, MOVIE STARS. A close relation of both SEAMONSTERS and WATUSI, 1996 mini-album MINI was a brisk six-song affair originally released by Cooking Vinyl which, in its new edition, features tracks recorded for vinyl only singles (including short-and-sharp SUCKER, a cover of Butterglory’s WAITING ON THE GUNS and a version of JET GIRL only available on a 7″ from Sheffield Leadmill) plus a tribute album run through Tom Waits’ RED SHOES BY THE DRUGSTORE. Also included are a Peel session, two concerts (Detroit and Leeds) and a new acoustic version of DRIVE. Perfect pop album SATURNALIA, the band’s final effort during its original era, was released in late 1996. The new edition features various b-sides (including WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME, the theme from sitcom CHEERS), two radio sessions, two concerts (Munich and Reading Festival), the video for MONTREAL and a new acoustic version of JET GIRL. WATUSI, MINI and SATURNALIA were all fine albums but The Wedding Present had passed its commercial peak and each could be regarded as something of a ‘lost gem’. The band was put on indefinite hold while Gedge concentrated on more textured, studio-based, songwriting for Cinerama – though The Wedding Present made a surprise return with late 2004 single INTERSTATE 5 and early 2005 album TAKE FOUNTAIN. EL REY followed in 2008, and VALENTINA in 2012. In recent years complete albums have been performed at The Wedding Present concerts, and this Autumn the band tours WATUSI for its twentieth anniversary (see dates below).
MyPlay (here) are offering the reissues as three ‘fan bundles’ (1987 – 1991 and 1992 – 1996, or 1987 – 1996) which include the acoustic tracks featured on the DVDs as two exclusive HOVE SESSIONS 7″ singles signed by David Gedge. Four of the remastered albums (GEORGE BEST, TOMMY, MINI and SATURNALIA) will also be issued on vinyl on 15th September. A week earlier Cinerama release a 24-track double CD (or 18-track double vinyl LP) compiling EPs and obscurities from around 2002’s TORINO, plus last year’s surprise single I WAKE UP SCREAMING. Pre-order SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD direct from David Gedge’s Scopitones label, here. In 2012 The Wedding Present performed a live session for The Mouth Magazine (watch here).
Sat 23 Aug BRIGHTON At The Edge Of The Sea Festival BUY
Sun 24 Aug BRIGHTON At The Edge Of The Sea Festival BUY
Fri 29 Aug GLENROTHES Leslie Greenside Hotel BUY
Sat 30 Aug GLASGOW The Last Big Weekend Festival BUY
THE WATUSI 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR
During November all UK concerts by The Wedding Present will consist of
the band playing WATUSI in its entirety (plus 40 minutes of other songs).
Tues 04 Nov PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms BUY
Weds 05 Nov EXETER Cavern BUY
Thurs 06 Nov BRISTOL Fleece BUY
Sat 08 Nov DUBLIN Button Factory BUY
Mon 10 Nov NEWCASTLE Cluny BUY
Tues 11 Nov EDINBURGH Liquid Room BUY
Weds 12 Nov BLACKBURN King George’s Hall BUY
Thurs 13 Nov OXFORD O2 Academy BUY
Fri 14 Nov LONDON Clapham Grand BUY