Sometimes These Words Just Don’t Have To Be Said

I read, skimmed more likely, an article recently about albums that are 30 years old this year- REM’s Document, The Smiths’ Strangeways, Here We Come and The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Darklands were the three guitar led biggies. It also included George Best by The Wedding Present, a record Dave Gedge and his band have been touring all year.

George Best is a superb album. Released in October 1987 George Best is the sound of four men plugging in and playing. There is no sense of production to speak of, no studio presence or tricks, just two guitars, bass and drums, recorded as they sounded live. Low budget, no frills. The cover shot picture of George Best and the green frame look like they could have been knocked up in minutes (and what a great shot of George it is). From the moment the needle hits the vinyl (or the cassette tape starts to spool) the 1987 indie kid then got twelve snapshots of Dave Gedge’s gruff northern voice over indie guitar rock. Gedge’s conversational lyrics and delivery were easy to identify with, a kind of northern (universal) poetry.

The album included a new version of the single that preceded it, My Favourite Dress. It opens with crunchy guitars, a two chord riff, and then the band come in. Gedge’s first verse deals with jealousy (‘am essential part of love’) and then comes the resigned ‘there’s always something left behind- nevermind’. In verse two a drunken Gedge describes the ‘scent of someone else in the blanket where we lay’. And then we get the best bit, the change, and a list of painful reminders of her- uneaten meals, a welcome ride in a neighbour’s car, getting soaked walking home, falling asleep waiting up for her to come home- building up to him seeing her kissing someone else and his hand on the dress. A growl as he delivers the final line ‘that was my favourite dress you know’. Love and loss in your late teens/early twenties skewered.

My Favourite Dress

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And Now Harry’s Walked Away With Johnny’s Wife

Yesterday’s Goodbye Johnny post started me thinking about the appearance of Johnny in songs. He crops up quite often- it’s a good lyrical name, sounds youthful and rebellious (see Marlon Brando in The Wild One- ‘What ya rebelling against Johnny?’ he gets asked. ‘Whaddya got?’ he snarls back), it scans well and sings well.

Johnny is the victim in The Wedding Present’s 1989 masterpiece Kennedy. Harry walks away with his wife. Maybe he’d eaten too much apple pie. I’ve never fully understood the lyrics to this song. The Kennedy in the title is (presumably) John F Kennedy, another Johnny, but the 35th President of the USA didn’t lose his wife to a man called Harry. Confusing.

The guitars on Kennedy are superb, frenetic and trebly and rushing their way through the song. And the breakdown with the bass riff is hairs-standing-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck stuff.

Kennedy

Box Elder

Apologies for the lazy nature of this post especially re: the videos, but I don’t have either song on the hard drive and it’s half time during the United- PNE game.

Pavement. Box Elder. Ragged and slack with the Malkmus drawl.

The Wedding Present. Box Elder cover version. Tighter and more trebly with the Gedge growl.

Take your pick.

Dazzle And Brassneck

During the First World War the navy painted their ships in these beautiful, modernist, black and white geometric patterns, to camouflage them and confuse the enemy about distance.

There’s been a lot of love shown recently in our part of the blogosphere for The Wedding Present, and quite rightly too. They provided so many of the songs we used to career round the students union and indie disco dancefloors too. I saw The Wedding Present play live several times during 1988-1989 and they were always good. Brassneck is a belter with buzzsaw guitars, tub thumping drums and Gedge’s northern growl.

Brassneck

Le Cadeau De Mariage

Ofsted- here we go. I don’t expect we’ll be asking them ‘…but why are you being so reasonable now?’

It’s got a bit of a bad reputation among Wedding present fans but I always liked Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now? from their golden George Best era. I saw them in Liverpool several times between ’88 and ’91 and once or twice since, and they were never less than great entertainment. I parted company with them in some ways after Bizarro (my loss really) but they’ve always been there, chugging away with tales of lost love, missed opportunities and walking home in the pouring rain. This is from the 12″, for the French indie market.

Pourquoi Es Tu Devenue Si Raisonable?

The Wedding Present ‘My Favourite Dress’

When Bagging Area started back in January I imagined there’d be more 80’s indie than there has been so far, especially when I think about how much I listened to it at the time. So, to redress the balance here’s archetypal 80’s indie specialists The Wedding Present with a blinding David Gedge tale of jealousy, lost love and his favourite dress (that she wore, not him). Take it away Grapper…

07 My Favourite Dress.wma