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coverpic flag England - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 10 - 08/18/97

The Wedding Present
Evening Sessions 1986-1994
Strange Fruit Records

I've been a fan of The Wedding Present for nearly ten years. They are the first band I ever loved and it's because of them that I am obsessed about music today.

In 1991, they released Seamonsters, an album recorded by Steve Albini. An astonishing record of guitar driven angst and varying textures, it is my favourite album ever, and highly likely to remain so.

They are one of only a few bands to have survived form the late 80's British indie / alternative scene. Stubbornly refusing to play by the rules of the music industry, their critical acclaim and commercial popularity has waned over the years, but the integrity remains. And, as last year's releases prove, so does the quality of the songs.

The band are taking 1997 off to recover from heavy touring, so fans have to content themselves with the release of Evening Sessions 1986-1994; a compilation of 3 sessions recorded for radio broadcast in the UK.

Lead singer and songwriter David Gedge has written around 150 songs over the years, practically all of them about relationships. Sometimes humourous, often touching.

Listening to the lyrics of the early songs recorded in 1986, it's clear how far he's come since then. I can't imagine The Wedding Present releasing songs similar to Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft or My Favourite Dress today. That's not to say I don't like them, though. Despite the musical limitations (frantic, treble heavy guitars), they have a youthful and appealing verve. Hearing Gedge scream "..a stranger's on hand on my favourite dress" still thrills a decade on.

Ignoring the Bizarro and Seamonsters periods, the album hurtles from 1986 to 1992 and it's hard to notice the difference with the guitar buzz of Sticky. However the next track, No Christmas reveals the development of the band. The song is moody and dark, the guitars seem to growl and the drumming ranges from the delicate to the brutal. It's one of my favourite ever Wedding Present songs, but appears here in instrumental form only.

The versions of Love Slave and Queen Of Outer Space are similar to previously released singles of 92.

The final 4 songs on the album are taken from 1994, a period when Gedge had the misguided idea to concentrate on experimentation with sound. When it worked, it was fabulous; witness the magical Click Click, a monotonous yet infectious guitar pattern supporting an unashamed declaration of love. "Every last bit of me, no inbetween, Just take whatever you see, I need you to love me, and no-one could mean as much as you do to me."   Aaah.

However, the experimentation was taken to the extreme. It ruined a potentially wonderful song (Catwoman), and spawned an utterly pointless one (the surf instrumental Hot Pants).

Ultimately, this album is for the die-hard fans, those who buy every release out of blind loyalty. (People like me, if the truth be told!) There is very little to tempt the casual fan, bar anyone curious to hear the cover of The Gang Of Four's I Found That Essence Rare, former bassist Darren Belk singing backing vocals on Click Click, or the aformentioned vocal-less version of No Christmas.

Anyone who wishes to add to their Wedding Present collection should make sure they have all the studio albums before even considering buying Evening Sessions. For the uninitiated, last year's Saturnalia is a good a place as any to start.

Looking forward to 1998 already.

Copyright © 1997 Craig Scrogie e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Wedding Present articles/reviews: George Best Plus, George Best, Going, Going..., Interstate 5, Live 1987, Take Fountain, The Hit Parade singles, Valentina.

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