Friday, August 15, 2008

The Wedding Present – "Falling"

Wedding Present – Hit Parade 1 LPI picked up Hit Parade 1 on the same trip I picked up Seamonsters, so that makes a natural pairing. Here's the story:

In 1992, the Wedding Present released a new 7" every month, with a new song on the a-side and a cover on the flip. Seems outrageously prolific, but if you think about it, that's one twelve-song album in a year, plus a twelve-song covers LP to boot. Not unreasonable. Incidentally, all of the singles charted, so they wound up tying Elvis Presley's Guinness record for most chart singles in one year. Go Weddoes!

The individual singles no fetch ridiculous collector prices on the open market, but the band were thoughtful enough to issue the whole shebang as a pair of standalone albums, one for each half of the year. HP1 includes the contents of January through June's singles, the a-sides on side one, the b-sides on side two.

The a-sides are decent enough, but to be perfectly frank, the Weddoes weren't really the ideal band to undertake a project like this; David Gedge's hit-to-miss ratio as a songwriter just isn't high enough. The covers, on the other hand, are a delight, and full of neat surprises. The best one is a cover of Julee Cruise's "Falling", best known as the theme song to David Lynch's short-lived surrealist TV drama Twin Peaks. The bad does a fine job of distilling a rather elaborate instrumental arrangement down to parts for two guitars and a bass, and the big kick-in at the end, while rather predictable, is thrilling nonetheless. The fact the Gedge has no business singing a song like this only adds to the charm of his gruff vocals.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: The Wedding Present – "Falling"

NOTE: I guess I should like to the 7", since HP1 is really a comp, but it's what I've got. If you wanna search for the single, it's number for in the series.

I'm outta town right now, so I won't have a chance to tape new songs, so no posts next week. Back next Monday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Wedding Present – Seamonsters

Wedding Present – Seamonsters LPOK, before you read any further, scroll down and play the track. See if you can guess who produced it. Should take you about five seconds, ten, tops.

The Wedding Present first worked with Steve Albini in 1990, when they re-recorded the opening track from 1989's Bizarro for a single/EP release. So pleased were they with the results on Brassneck that they decided to work with him again for the next full-length.

Which wound up being great timing, because shortly thereafter guitarist Pete Solowka left the band to play Ukrainian folk versions of Smiths songs full-time (seriously!). Solowka was responsible for the hyperspeed strumming that defined the band's early sound (cf. "Kennedy" from Monday's post), and without him the band were just a middle-of-the-road BritIndie guitar act. Albini's pummelling treble schtick gave the band a new sonic identity, and they give themselves over to it fully on Seamonsters.

I picked up a copy just recently, but I'd listened to it many years ago. The track "Suck" always stuck with me for some reason. I think it's the way the lead guitar comes in after such a spare start in the rhythm section. I like David Gedge's voice in here as well. He clearly has no business being a pop singer, but here he really uses his ragged vocal qualities to fine effect, imbuing the lyrics with a bleak sense of hopelessness. Not a very happy song, but quite an effective one.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: The Wedding Present – "Suck"

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Wedding Present – "Kennedy"

Wedding Present – Kennedy 7inI got a couple Wedding Present records recently, plus I got this 7" a while back, so what the hell, I'll do a week of 'em.

While quite popular in their native England in an underdog/cult faves kind of way (the weeklies called them the Weddoes), the Wedding Present never quite caught on in the States, even among indie/Britpop fans. "Kennedy" was the first song I ever heard by the band, having seen the video on 120 Minutes. I was intrigued, and watched a tape of the video over and over. It was all the guitar strumming at the end, definitely.

After wearing out a cassette copy of Bizarro in high school, I picked up this 7" of may favourite track many years later. Not sure why, but it was cheap and seemed like a cool thinkg to have. Plus, the few copies of Bizarro I've seen on vinyl were pretty expensive, even in the UK.

Bizarro, incidentally, was the first place I ever heard a song called "Box Elder". I later found out it was a cover.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: The Wedding Present – "Kennedy"

Friday, August 8, 2008

Spacemen 3 – "Big City"

Spacemen 3 – Big City 12inWell, since I put up that Spiritualized cut a few days ago and I just picked up a Spacemen 3 12" in Scotland a couple weeks ago, I guess I may as well post that as well.

By the time they got around to recording 1991's Recurring, the Spacemen were as good as broken up already. Indeed, many who followed the band were surprised the album ever got made. While I've never heard it, it's reportedly a breakup album in every sense, and a Spacemen album in name only. Kember wrote side one, Pierce wrote side two, and they both seem to be warming up for their respective post-Spacemen careers. In fact, the only track on which both actually play is a Mudhoney cover.

"Big City", the lead single, is a Kember track that consists of little more than him messing around with a sequencer for ten minutes. It's pretty cool, and works as an incremental step on the way to his work as Spectrum, in which he would finally remove the rhythm entirely in favour of formless synth noises.

The b-side is a non-LP track by Pierce. He seems to be experimenting with a sound he would employ with Spiritualized when applied to actual songs. But here it's just some wordless vocal harmonies. So if you're about a minute and a half into it and wondering when it's going to start, it isn't. It's just that for the whole track, plus a little guitar solo towards the end. A true b-side if I've ever heard one.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Spacemen 3 – "Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here)" and "Drive"

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"True Love Will Find You In the End"

Back after a long delay! I got really busy for a while, then kind of lost interest. But I've picked up a bunch of new stuff recently, so I'm gonna start posting regularly again, although maybe just once a week for now. And what inspired me to start again was this:

You probably knew that there's a new Spiritualized album out. If you didn't, well, you're welcome. I still haven't heard the album (it's in the mail as we speak, God willing), but I picked up the single because the b-side intrigued me.

The single, by the way, is fantastic, the same sort of Spector-esque overwrought psychedelic gospel J Spaceman kind of perfected on Let It Come Down. But if you wanna hear it you can find it elsewhere.

The b-side is a Daniel Johnston cover, and features some of Johnston's most moving and heartfelt lyrics (and that's saying a lot). It piqued my curiosity because the same song was used in the Ordinary Theater's adaptation of Finnegan's Wake at Trinity College last fall. (T— sings it in this scene.)

I've posted Johnston's and the play's versions as well here because it's fun to hear how J Spaceman and T— each deal with Johnston's odd phrasing. It's worth noting that the singer and guitarist were in different rooms for the play version, so have a little sympathy. Like Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan before him, Johnston sees no reason that every measure should stop at four beats; where's the fun in that?

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Spiritualized - "True Love Will Find You In the End"

Bonus (not from vinyl): "True Love Will Find You In the End" (from Widow Of 18 Springs)" and, of course, Daniel Johnston - "True Love Will Find You In the End"