England

Instrumentals are strange beasts and I have a confession to make that I’m not normally a fan of the form. Lyrics are the anchor that attach me to a song and without them I am washed away. But age and experience have given me the wisdom to realise that I am at fault. There are songs that have no singing and these are just as worthy as those ditties that are full up with words.

I consider myself both English and also British and I am both proud of it and uncomfortable. They are different tributaries of a river that sometimes I don’t want to traverse. As every historical proudness competes with despicable sadness and horror of what our forebears did. And in the shadow of the present there are those that seek to echo the awful, imperialist past.

So if we must have a flag then let it be a flag that everyone can stand beneath. If our nation’s teams must battle then let it be a battle where defeat is just a loss of goals. Every country is worthy and every country should be a piece of the world’s jigsaw. We should be part of the together because being alone forever is just a sign that your country didn’t work.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

When it comes to instrumentals, are these songs you have never been able to ‘finish’ with lyrics or do they start as lyric-free?

DLG: No, they’ve always been instrumentals from the outset. I approach the writing in a different way. I feel that the lyric and vocal melody are typically a listener’s primary focus in a song and if they’re not present I think you have to have enough ‘other’ things in there to maintain interest. Having said that, I’ve heard instrumental versions of Wedding Present and, even more so, Cinerama songs and they work perfectly well without the vocal… so what do I know?!

How do you know Simon Armitage who narrates the poem at that start of the track and gets a co-credit?

DLG: I’d been aware of Simon’s work for a long time – hearing him on the radio and stuff – but I don’t think I actually met him until he interviewed me for his book ‘Gig : The Life And Times Of A Rock-Star Fantasist’ which came out in 2008. He interviewed me in the dressing room of the Picturedrome venue in Holmfirth, which is near where he lives, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He’s a lovely bloke.

When we were writing ‘England’ I decided that I wanted some form of narration on there but it was actually Jessica who suggested Simon. I asked him if he’d be interested and, by an amazing coincidence, he told me about his poem ‘The English’ which fits perfectly! It’s brilliant when things fall into place like that…

What do you define as Englishness? Did you try and bring anything specifically ‘English’ to this song or did it just fit a mood?

DLG: I think the arrangement is sympathetic to the feeling of Simon’s poem… so, if the words represent ‘Englishness’, I guess the music does, too. I’m actually fascinated by how we define Englishness and how it relates to the rest of The United Kingdom, Europe, The Commonwealth, the U.S.A., etc. While the English haven’t always behaved in the most honourable way through the years I think the effect that this part of a small island has had on the world is undeniably remarkable. But to answer the question properly I would need to write an essay.

Patrick Alexander was back to record guitar on this track. Was this track formed from your mutual early work on Going, Going… or did you just want to work with him again? I love the urgent guitar work at, for example, 3:03-3:33.

DLG: ‘England’ is one of a tetralogy of tracks released as the ‘Home Internationals’ EP together with, somewhat inevitably, ‘Scotland’, ‘Wales’ and ‘Northern Ireland’. ‘Wales’ is one of my favourite moments of Going, Going… and so I decided that I wanted to use it as the starting point and inspiration for three other instrumentals. When we were writing Going, Going… Patrick churned out a seemingly endless supply of ideas and so, unsurprisingly, there were some guitar parts that were never used… and not because they weren’t good enough!

We know the people who run the Primavera Festival in Barcelona and so, when they invited us to release an E.P. on their label, I felt that the obvious thing to do was to pop up to Oxford, where Patrick works as a lecturer, and assemble some new tracks from those unused Going, Going… bits and pieces.

Official Lyrics

The English (poem by Simon Armitage)

They are a gentleman farmer, living on reduced means
A cricketer’s widow sowing a kitchen garden with sweet peas
A lighthouse-keeper counting aeroplanes

Old blackout curtains staunch the break of day
Regard the way they dwell; the harking back
How the women at home went soldiering on with pillows for husbands, fingers for sons

How man after man emerged at dawn from his house, in his socks
Then laced his boots on the step, locked up, then steadied himself to post a key back through a letterbox

The afternoon naps, the quaint hours they keep
But, since you ask them, that is how they sleep

Written and published by Gedge / Layton / Alexander / Wadey / Armitage. The publishing of Gedge / Layton / Alexander / Wadey is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Version:

1 – Home Internationals version [El Segell del Primavera  PS033EP] TIME: 5:22
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Danielle Wadey (bass); Charlie Layton (drums); Simon Armitage (narration)
Released May 2017


Video:

A live video from June 2017 by Kirk (8Boing).

Live: 

The song debuted in 2017 and has had a fair few outings so far.

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Hard, Fast And Beautiful

In 1997, The Wedding Present went on hiatus and over the next year or so David Gedge created a new project called Cinerama. A place to pour his ideas for film soundtracks and pop songs that didn’t fit in with an indie rock group. It became a creative place for him and long-term partner Sally Murrell to indulge their musical whims.

One of the earliest tracks heard by fans was ‘Hard, Fast And Beautiful’. Along with ‘Honey Rider’, this track really summed up the startling change for me. Gone were the rock guitars, in came the strings. Gone were the jeans, in came the suits. Some fans didn’t like the new sound but some brand new fans were gained. Now nearly twenty years later, this song still feels fresh. Instruments come in one by one, gently nudging up against one another. The melody on the chorus must make even the hardest heart swoon. The song rises and it falls, over and over until tailing out with that delicate piano sequence.

Lyrically, things weren’t so different from what had come before. This was a song of yearning: a lost chance at love and happiness. The despondency in the early verses gives way to angst and almost self-pity but is there a chance of peace in the end? By coming to terms with the realisation of his feelings, the narrator is maybe on the first steps to recovery. In fact, the epiphany almost creates a sound of joy especially with those gorgeous female backing vocals right at the end.

There are only a few versions of this song but there are several that stand out. The original album version is one of the highlights of that debut disc. The Spanish version is, of course, ‘hermosa’. The Live In Los Angeles cd features the classic Gladys Knight opening but my favourite has to be the Peel Night version celebrating the great man’s sixtieth birthday. This features some marvelous Simon Cleave guitar which adds a nice burning intensity to the choruses. Every version though is neither hard nor fast but they are all beautiful.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

The title is borrowed from the 1951 tennis/drama/romance film directed by Ida Lupino. I know you are a fan of film but are you also a tennis fan?

DLG: I like the 2004 tennis/drama/romance film ‘Wimbledon’, too! I’ve seen that one about three times, ha, ha. But yes, I do like tennis. It was one of the only sports I actually enjoyed playing at school. I always thought that Ilie Năstase was the tennis world’s answer to George Best. That being said… the song has nothing to do with tennis… I just liked the title.

This track, along with others, really stood out for me among those early Cinerama songs. Where in your learning process of this new writing style did this piece fit?

DLG: I think Cinerama tracks tend to fall into one of two types. They’re usually either attempts at creating some kind of atmospheric cinematic soundscape or just me delving into pop song writing in the ‘classic’ or ‘traditional’ sense. This song falls very much into the latter category. It’s vocal led and has proper verses, bridges and choruses. I think it’s one of the best ‘songs’ I’ve written, to be honest.

The chorus with its soaring double-tracked vocals really hits the heart strings. Were there any pop ‘gimmicks’ that were ever ‘off the table’ for you at this time or were you happy to experiment wherever it led you?

DLG: I’m always interested in exploring different techniques; double tracking the vocal like that was suggested by the producer/engineer of Va Va Voom, Dare Mason. But there are a few pop gimmicks, as you call them, that I tend to avoid, yes… guitar solos, saxophone breaks, children singing, using a dozen notes in a vocal melody when a couple will suffice…

All these early Cinerama songs are credited solely to yourself so did they arrive totally constructed when you were in the studio?

DLG: Yes. I wrote all the Va Va Voom era songs at home, on my own. During the mid-to-late 1990s using computers to assist in the making of music became much more accessible to someone like me who has no recording studio engineering knowledge or experience. By that I mean that a) they plummeted in price and b) they also became considerably more user friendly. With the aid of some basic sequencing software and an Akai sampler I was able to record demos of those early Cinerama songs onto a digital 8-track recorder synched to my computer using drum loops, a keyboard, a micophone and my guitars. But, despite all the machinery, I still wanted Cinerama to sound like ‘a band’ so I decided to use session musicians for the ‘proper’ recordings. That was the process I used for Va Va Voom and most of This Is Cinerama. The musicians would come into the studio and listen to the demo and I’d explain what I wanted them to play. That was the other benefit of the technology, actually… the software enables you to print out a score for people like the strings players, so, again… even though I can’t score music… I was able to explain, by and large, what I wanted from the musicians. So they would come into the studio, hear the song for the first time and then record their part.

Dare was very helpful in a) sourcing some extremely talented players and b) helping me through the process because it was a completely new way of working for me. For all my previous records I’d been in a band and all the songs had been written, arranged and rehearsed a long time before we’d even set foot in the recording studio. The Va Va Voom sessions were much more liquid. Sometimes the session musicians would play it completely as I’d written it and sometimes they would say: “Well, I can see what you’re trying to do but the violin part would sound better if I did it like this.”

There was actually a funny moment during the recording of ‘Hard, Fast And Beautiful’ when we had the pianist in. I had a strong idea of how I wanted the piano part to be. I wanted it to sound like the soundtrack of a French film from the 1960s or 70s. But I can’t play the piano so I had to write the piece bit by bit on the computer… recording a few seconds of the right hand part, then a few seconds of the left… then moving on to the next section. It was a complicated process with all those overdubs but, when I was finally happy with it, I printed out the score and brought it along to the studio we were using to record piano. The pianist was a friend of Dare’s called Davey Ray Moor but what I didn’t know at the time was that he’s this hugely talented composer and multi-instrumentalist. He took one look at my score and said: “I can’t play this!” I asked why not, thinking that maybe we’d need someone with greater skills but he said: “Because they way it’s written I would need three hands!”

I know you love Terry de Castro’s backing vocals and she certainly shines on this piece. What is it about her vocals you love?

DLG: I do love Terry’s backing vocals but Va Va Voom was recorded before I met her. All the female singing on here is by Sally Murrell who hadn’t ever sung on a record before! She did a beautiful job…

I love the ‘Gladys Knight’ section on the Live In Los Angeles version – did you get that reaction often?

DLG: Ha, ha… yes, I suppose so… it’s a popular song. The difference between ‘Hard, Fast And Beautiful’ and a lot of my other songs is that the beginning is very quiet so you can clearly hear the audience reaction. On that occasion I was taken right back to hearing Gladys Knight And The Pips’ ‘The Way We Were’ on an LP my mum used to play all the time in the 1970s.

Do you have fond recollections of those days – when most of your gigs were low key and filled with hard-core, cult followers and/or new fans to Cinerama?

DLG: It was an interesting time. I was forging ahead into some kind of a new territory for me and so I was extremely appreciative of any support from those fans who came with me, while, at the same time, being excited to meet people who’d never liked The Wedding Present. The only frustration was that I didn’t have the resources to re-create the ‘full’ Cinerama sound live… I mean like we did in London a couple of years ago for the Live 2015 album. We only really used the full mini-orchestra on sessions for John Peel in those days.

Official Lyrics:

And guess what I found
It’s a letter that I started writing when you walked out

It says that I won’t miss you because I’ve met someone who’s more exciting
But that wasn’t true

So how did I lose you?
The last thing you ever wanted to do was to hurt me but I’d still accuse you

And I couldn’t know I’d never feel the same way with another
So I let you go

Yeah, I’ve got a girlfriend
She’s beautiful, considerate and, yes, I do love her
But I’m not going to pretend that she’s ever going to be the one

Because now I know that it was you all the time
How could I ever think it wasn’t true?
Now I’ve stopped trying to tell myself that I’ve grown out of being in love with you

And deep in the night I lie awake and think about you
Of course it’s not right

But what can I do?
I can’t sleep in this bed without you
If you only knew

Yeah, I’ve got a girlfriend
She’s beautiful, considerate and, yes, I do love her
But I’m not going to pretend that she’s ever going to be the one

Because now I know that it was you all the time
How could I ever think it wasn’t true?
So now I’ve stopped trying to tell myself that I’ve grown out of being in love with you

Because now I know that it was you all the time
How could I ever think it wasn’t true?
So now I’ve stopped trying to tell myself that I’ve grown out of being in love with you

[Written by Gedge and published by Cooking Vinyl Publishing]

Studio Versions:

1 – Va Va Voom album track [Cooking Vinyl COOK CD 150] – released 27/07/1998, recorded Spring 1998; TIME: 4:59

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar, producer); Sally Murrell (backing vocals); Davey Ray Moor (piano); Anthony Coote (bass); Che Albrighton (drums); Abigail Trundle (cello); Rachel Davies (violin); Dare Mason (guitar, producer)

2 – Spanish version released as ‘Dura, Rapida Y Hermosa’ on the Superman 7″ [Scopitones TONE 007] released 23/04/2001; and later included on Cinerama Holiday  [Scopitones TONE CD013] released 23/09/2002; TIME: 4:27

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar, producer); Sally Murrell (backing vocals, keyboards); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Kari Paavola (drums); Steve Albini (engineer); Dare Mason (mixer/overdubs) [translation by Anne Foley]

Live Versions:

1 – John Peel’s 60th Birthday version; TIME: 5:09

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Sally Murrell (backing vocals, keyboards); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Bryan McLellan (drums); Philip Robinson (keyboards, backing vocals)
Recorded at the BBC Maida Vale Studios, London, UK on 31/08/1999, first broadcast on 02/09/1999
Released on John Peel Sessions  [Scopitones TONE CD 006] 02/04/2001 and later as part of Cinerama – The Complete Peel Sessions

2 – Los Angeles 2000 version; TIME: 5:00

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Kari Paavola (drums)
Recorded at The Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, USA on 05/11/2000
Released on Live In Los Angeles [Scopitones TONE CD 009]  06/05/2002

Live:

Hard, Fast And Beautiful was part of Cinerama’s first set on 22/07/1998 at the Camden Falcon, London, UK and stayed in until 2001. It reappeared briefly on the setlist in 2003. Then with the return of The Wedding Present, it didn’t appear again until around 2011 when Cinerama started playing as a support group at the Edge of the Sea and Peaks festivals. It was played as part of a set with a full orchestra at some shows in the Summer of 2015.

Video:

Va Va Voom version:

A nice live video from ATEOTS 2011 featuring Charlie on bass guitar:

The aforementioned version with full orchestra in 2015:

 

Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!

For a lot of fans this song would have been their introduction to the wonder that is The Wedding Present. I wonder what it would have felt like to hear this crackling out of the radio when John Peel first played the single in 1985. Or at the very early concerts where the song must have sounded astonishing at the time.

I first heard the song a little later on the compilation, Tommy, a frantic collection of all the early singles, b-sides and assorted random tracks from those early, frenetic years. It blew me away: the jangly melodic opening, the pounding bass and drums, the electrifying guitars and the structure which zigged and zagged in a peculiar way.

I don’t think I ever really knew what the song was about. Fleeting snatches of lyrics broke through the distorted fog and those were the bits I latched on to. A 21-year old, a golden field and a little girl with a union jack, a pinprick on a map. I bound my own meaning up into those oblique phrases. The final lines, despite the ambiguity, were full of resounding sadness. They felt so full of melancholy and heart-breaking ennui because of the way that the lines were intoned.

In hindsight, the song is very rough and chaotic but maybe that’s why I love it. The fact that it was there at the birth of the band I love the most probably explains the nostalgic passion. But somehow, it means much more to me than that.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

Firstly, this was, of course, the debut single by The Wedding Present. Before that, you were in The Lost Pandas. Do they feel like two distinct eras in terms of song writing or was there some crossover? Was the creative process back then similar or different to how it became in the new line up?

DLG: Although I was the main songwriter in both groups… and the songs were written and arranged in pretty much the same way… I would definitely describe The Lost Pandas and The Wedding Present as distinct eras, yes. That’s partly because my own writing technique was still evolving and partly because of the personnel changes between the two bands. I’ve often said that meeting Shaun Charman was significant in the early development of The Wedding Present because he encouraged us to adapt a more punky and aggressive style of playing. The sound of The Lost Pandas, on the other hand, was more reflective… and the lyrics were more abstract.

In the Edsel Records re-release of Tommy, you mention that ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ was a deliberate statement of intent – with its unusual structure and multiple parts. You say you’d write it differently now, in what way?

DLGWell, there are about half a dozen different musical themes in that song! I remember a review of it saying that there were more ideas in this one track than some bands manage across an entire LP! And, while I think it kind of works on ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ an arrangement like that can sound over-written or too complicated. But it was the first single and, for all we knew, it might’ve been the last… so I think we wanted to pack it full of interesting hooks. We also wanted to make it an extreme record… we wanted it to leap out of the radio and grab you by the ears… so we deliberately accentuated the thrashy guitars and the frantic pace.

In the liner notes of the same re-release, the song is described as a “critique of militarism via an address to a young soldier”. It’s funny but I never really thought of the song as a political one but you say there that you were looking to stretch yourself. As with your other songs in this genre, you say you’re not happy with the results. Can you explain why and explain some of the meaning and inspiration behind the lyrics?

DLG: I just think I’m better at writing about relationships. I’ve always admired writers who can make political statements work within the pop song format… Billy Bragg was a master of that, for example… but whenever I’ve tried I always think that it sounds clumsy and forced. ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ was written shortly after The Falklands War and was partly influenced by that conflict. Although I think there’s passion in the lyric, the message remains a little unfocused and it’s an approach from which I moved away after I’d decided to concentrate on a less ‘poetic’ style.

Your vocals are reminiscent of that of Mark Burgess from The Chameleons. I know you knew them through school and socially. How much influence and inspiration did their work have on you at that time?

DLG: It’s difficult to describe just how huge the influence of The Chameleons was on me. I knew Mark Burgess and also Dave Fielding and Reg Smithies from school. Dave was actually one of my closest childhood friends and he lived about five minutes’ walk from our house. He was a brilliant guitarist and although I used to play a bit of music with him we also did all the usual stuff that teenagers did. I used to go and see him play with Reg in a band called Years and, at the same time, I saw Mark play in his band The Clichés. Shortly after I left Middleton to go to Leeds University the three of them formed The Chameleons. I thought The Chameleons were great… I still do… amazing tunes and a powerful sound. It’s the kind of music that raises the hairs on your neck. I collected their records avidly and Keith and I used to travel all over to see them play live, along with my girlfriend at the time, Jaz. They were one of my favourite bands along with, I guess, The Fall and The Velvet Underground and so they were bound to have an influence on my song writing until I’d found my own ‘voice’. They influenced The Lost Pandas more than The Wedding Present, though. I think after ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ you hear less of their influence on The Wedding Present but I continued to love Mark’s vocal style.

On the 24th May 1985, the single was released firstly by yourselves on Reception Records with 500 copies and then later that year on City Slang with another 1,000 copies. Was having your own record label a planned idea or was it just out of necessity?

DLG: It was out of necessity. We’d sent out loads of demo tapes to record labels but no-one was interested in signing the band. So we decided to just save up and pay for the release ourselves. In doing so we essentially created our own record company. It was never an ambition to start a label – it was purely a vehicle for The Wedding Present… but, once we’d started it, we decided that we quite liked having it!

The City Slang thing was an odd diversion. The initial pressing had sold out but, because we weren’t yet a ‘proper’ organisation the thought of repressing it never really crossed our minds. Then, a journalist called Neil Taylor interviewed the band for the New Musical Express and he offered to re-release the single on his own label, City Slang. We, rather naively, agreed… I think I said something along the lines of: “If you pay for lunch, you can release it!” Red Rhino, who had distributed the Reception Records pressing, were appalled! They said: “Why didn’t you just ask us?!” And they were absolutely correct; we’d just let City Slang release it without any written agreement or terms and conditions.

Who created the artwork for the two sleeves? One features a photograph on an old man sheltering from the rain, the other is an abstract piece of art.

DLG: Keith Gregory and I assembled the first sleeve using a photograph we’d ripped out of a magazine and a packet of Letraset, but the second sleeve was designed wholly by
City Slang. We weren’t consulted in any way about that second sleeve. In fact, the first time I saw it was after Shaun had bought a copy at Jumbo Records in Leeds and brought it round to my house! We were all horrified. It was, what I guess is called, a ‘wake up call’, actually, because from that point we fiercely took control of all of our releases… the recordings, mixing, artwork, videos… everything… to the point where it became something of an obsession.

Are they the same recording?

DLG: Yes.

A Wedding Present wiki entry says ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ was chosen as first single over ‘Will You Be Up There?’ – is that accurate?

DLGYes. I can’t speak for the other band members but I remember feeling that although ‘Will You Be Up There?’ was possibly a superior song, ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ was more of a statement and, therefore, a better choice for a debut single. ‘Will You Be Up There?’… on the other hand… was never released in the end!

Julian Sowa drummed on the track rather than Shaun Charman. Was this because of the speed of the track and the fact that Shaun was actually new to drumming, having been, up to that point, a bassist?

DLG: Precisely. When we met Shaun he was a bassist in another band and the only time he’d ever actually picked up drumsticks was when that band used to swap instruments for a laugh. But we felt that his personality and the kind of music he liked was more important than his ability and so we decided that the fact that he couldn’t actually play the drums wasn’t necessarily an obstacle to him becoming the Wedding Present drummer! So he joined the band and launched himself on this steep learning curve. He didn’t feel confident enough to play on the recording of ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ and so he asked his friend Julian Sowa to sit in for him. Remember that our modus operandi at this time was to play everything at 100 m.p.h. He said that he was only able to play drums on the B-side because there was a slow bit in the middle of that song where he could catch his breath!

The first two singles (this and ‘Once More’) were compiled onto an EP, ‘Don’t Try And Stop Me, Mother’ which sounds like a very Morrissey-like title. Presumably, this release was down to those singles selling out so quickly. Did you realise that this popularity was a sign of things to come or did you just think it was a bubble tied to John Peel’s patronage?

DLG: After the City Slang blip we decided to return to releasing records on our own label through Red Rhino Distribution. The re-release of ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ had sold out as quickly as the first pressing and so we decided that we’d make those tracks available on what was essentially the 12” version of ‘Once More’ – the ‘Don’t Try And Stop Me, Mother’ EP. I’m not sure we were particularly thinking about our popularity or ‘things to come’ but we did obviously notice a marked increase in interest in the band once Peel had started playing the first single.

Speaking of which, how did it feel hearing this song on John Peel for the first time?

DLG: It was literally one of the most exciting moments of my life! I’d spent my formative years listening to the John Peel programme to the point where I never missed a single show. My principle ambition, for more than a few years, was to have John Peel play one of my songs on the radio and so when he announced that he was going to air the single I was ecstatic. People expect me to say that the highlight of being in The Wedding Present was appearing on Top Of The Pops or playing in Japan or whatever but I don’t think anything will ever surpass that debut play on John Peel.

Did you know it was going to happen or was it a surprise?

DLG: Well, we’d obviously sent him a copy of the record so it wasn’t a complete surprise but it wasn’t guaranteed that he’d like it enough to give it a spin, of course. Or that he’d even pick it out of the mountain of releases he was sent on a daily basis.

I was pleased to see you are performing this song on your current (April 2017) tour of North America. What differences are there playing it live now compared to 32 years ago?!

DLG: Well… the current band members are better musicians than that first line-up… and we have better gear… you can hear on the original recording how ‘small’ everything sounds because we were hampered by having no budget. But I think I can safely say that none of the energy and ambition and passion is missing. For me, playing ‘Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!’ live is always a special moment in any set. It’s where it all began, after all…

Official Lyrics

You were a survivor after all; you never even called!
I didn’t expect you to
Now, oh, there’s such a lot you’ve done and you’re only twenty-one
Yes, you’re only twenty-one

Oh, oh, there’s just something, something I noticed
That there’s a whole world out there but it’s shrinking fast
You want to take it all and make it last forever
Or maybe just a lifetime

Now, oh, you’ve gone to fly the flag from some pinprick on the map
Oh, won’t you ever bring it back?
Tonight, when you hold her in your arms and you prove that you’re a man
Oh, well, I hope she understands

Oh, oh, there’s just something, something I noticed
That there’s a whole world out there but it’s shrinking fast
You want to take it all and make it last forever
Or maybe just a lifetime, maybe just a lifetime

Oh, some things just don’t ever go away
Some things, you know, are just here to stay

And in a golden field there is a little girl left with a union jack
And there’s a price to pay, no matter what you say
There is no going back today
And if we’re worlds apart, then I’ve still got a heart
Can you imagine that?
“Another wasted day”, yes, I can hear you say
But I’m afraid it means much more to me than that

Written and published by Gedge, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Version:

1 – A-side of single [Reception REC 001] released 24/05/1985 with 500 copies
and re-released on 30/08/1985 [City Slang CSL 001] with 1000 copies. TIME: 4:11

Also appeared on compilations, Don’t Try and Stop Me Mother [Reception REC 002/12] and Tommy [Reception LEEDS 002]. Currently available as Edsel Records reissue of Tommy [EDSJ 9005]

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Julian Sowa (drums); Carl Rosamond(producer)

Live Versions:

1 – Reading 1987 version TIME: 3:43
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums)
Recorded at the Majestic, Reading, UK on 25/02/1987
Originally released on Sounds ‘Waves 3’ 7” but currently available on Tommy Deluxe Edition.

2 – Leicester 1987 version TIME: 4:47
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Mike Stout (engineer)
Recorded at the Polytechnic, Leicester, UK on 05/05/1987
Originally released on Live Tape No. 1 cassette, now available on Tommy Deluxe Edition and
Live 1987 [Scopitones TONE CD 025]

3 – London 2005 version TIME: 4:07
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Simon Pearson (drums); Christopher McConville (engineer)
Recorded at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, UK on 20/11/2005
Released as part of Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes The Wedding Present
[Secret Records CRIDE 81] in 2007.

Live:

This song currently holds the prestigious position of being in both the first ever set played by The Wedding Present (on 01/03/1985) as well as being part of the latest tour in the Spring of 2017.

It was a stalwart and crowd favourite from 1985 through to 1987. I don’t have another record of the song being played until the Autumn tour of 2005, some eighteen years later. It then took another hiatus before returning in May of 2014 for a few gigs. It then re-appeared in the Autumn of 2016 and as mentioned has also popped up this year.

Video:

A video version of the above live version from 2005 was available on the DVD, An Evening With The Wedding Present [Secret Films DRIDE 81].

There is also (very grainy!) Super 8 footage of a very early live performance on the Tommy re-release. Below is a you tube video with the audio from the single.

Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm

By 1988 with their critically-acclaimed album George Best on release and touring to packed indie venues country-wide, The Wedding Present were about to move up a level. Things were changing behind the scenes (this was the last release to feature original drummer Shaun Charman) and quite clearly on record too as this new single was the poppiest, catchiest song the band had created to this point.

The breakneck, jangly guitars and growling vocal were still in place but they were alongside a memorable melody and a sing-along chorus. This was all accompanied by a relatively flashy, promotional video and lively, balloon-filled gigs.

The song itself was a slight redirect from the concerns of the album released just months earlier as it featured a break-up but one in which the narrator was taking the upper hand and ending things with her before she ended with him. From sounding like someone who was being mocked and cheated upon in the first verse (“And when I called your house I’m sure your sister thought that I was somebody else / I heard a laugh down the phone and then the answer came that you weren’t at home, oh”) to someone ready to declare that the relationship is over feels like a long victorious journey in just over three short minutes.

The song is also notable for David Gedge making an irreverent reference to fellow band member Peter Solowka (“Take it away Grapper!”) and for the latter’s studio banter at the end whilst recording his accordion part (“Never played that in my life before.”) All in all, this was a band breaking away from their brooding early selves and showing they could have fun too. I can’t have been the only to notice that this was not going to be just another standard indie band.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

How long after George Best were the songs on this single written and recorded? It was released just four months afterwards, so was it a continuous conveyor belt of pop-making?

DLG: Ha, ha… I suppose so! In my old lyric book it says, vaguely, ‘written in 1987’ but I notice from the sleeve of the Live 1987 album that we were already playing a couple of tracks from this EP on the tour that followed the release of George Best. I was less busy in those days so I had more time for song writing. Listening to it now, I think you can already hear how we’d begun to move on from George Best – I think this song is a little more refined than the ones on the LP. We had begun to explore new territory. I got Peter [Solowka] to play the accordion as an overdub on this to add warmth and a new texture to the sound.

This song and the b-sides with it were the last with Shaun Charman on drums. You’ve related in the recent #12 of Tales From The Wedding Present comic the ‘personal differences’ reasons for Shaun being asked to leave and your current rekindled friendship with him. In discussions over the years I hear some fans prefer one drummer to another over the years. What difference do you feel a drummer can make to your songs?

DLG: A drummer’s style can definitely influence the ‘feel’ of a song. And it’s not just how technically capable they are… different drummers have different styles. Some of them hit the drums harder, some give the songs a ‘groovier’ feel, some are more exuberant in their playing style. There are lots of nuances…

This was the first single to receive a professional promo video. Did this feel like a big deal at the time? What are your memories of recording it including any of the locations like the bridge where you presumably had to walk along backwards for take after take?

DLG: I suppose having someone pay for a professional video felt like we were passing some kind of a milestone, yes, but it wasn’t a big deal. Making videos is always a bit surreal, to be honest… we’re musicians, not actors… but, yes, walking backwards through a busy London crowd was one of the oddest things I’ve done for The Wedding Present. I thought it was a clever idea though… and they spent ages on those graphics. It’s a fun video…

By this point, you’d mastered the ability of matching a colloquial phrase or saying to a catchy chorus. Do you find this side of your song-writing easy or do you have to wrestle with the words to fit a tune or vice versa?

DLG: It’s definitely a technique I’ve used over the years, as you say… dropping in a well-known phrase here and there. It’s one of the ways that I like to reference popular culture. But I wouldn’t say it was easy! It can often sound clumsy or clichéd so you have to be sparing with them. And it has to match the rhythm and melody, of course, too. It’s sometimes easier just to come up with your own phrase instead… but that’s often not quite as satisfying.

This song features the famous reference to guitarist Peter Solowka when you quip “Take it away, Grapper”, before the bridge. Any memories of why you included that? You changed it to ‘Wycombe boy’ when Simon Cleave was in the band. Any other variations you can recall using?

DLG: I think I might’ve also used ‘Hibs boy’ when Christopher McConville played it. It was just one of those spur of the moment, throwaway things you come up with in the studio. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t!

This is one of several songs from this era that features the backing vocals of Amelia Fletcher (Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research, Tender Trap etc.) and you’ve worked with her several times since. What do you like about Amelia’s voice?

DLG: I like the way it blended with mine – the contrast was quite marked. She also came up with her own parts… she’s really good at pop melodies and added a new element to our recordings. This song in particular has a ‘big’ chorus and I think her part helps brings that out.

You played this song live on ‘Calendar’, a show on Yorkshire Television. Was that your first time on television? How was that experience?

DLG:  I think our first television appearance was for ‘My Favourite Dress’ for the BBC in Leeds. Funnily enough, I’m currently working on a story for Tales From The Wedding Present for the Yorkshire Television thing because it was quite a stressful affair. The plan was that we’d play the song and then have a chat with the presenter. But then we discovered that our time slot was only to be three minutes long. So the director asked us to ‘re-arrange’ the song to make it last for two minutes so that we could squeeze the interview in. And, of course, in true Wedding Present style, we were having none of that! So he said that if we didn’t do it we wouldn’t be on the show. So we started packing away our gear! He said: “What are you doing?!” We told him that we were leaving because we didn’t want to alter our arrangement. In the end they let us play the unadulterated version but we had to forgo doing the interview. We were fine with that. I think we played it at too quick a tempo, though, because we were all annoyed. If you watch the first few seconds of the video you can tell I’m still fuming!

I know there are fans, who like the vocal tone you have on these early records – quite deep and guttural in places with plenty of grunts, sighs and ‘arghhh’s. You don’t seem to sing like that these days – is this because you’ve become a better singer or did you deliberately move away from that style?

DLG: At the time I thought those grunts and sighs enhanced the emotion in the vocal delivery but when I listen to the older records now I’m not so keen on them anymore. I think my taste has probably just changed!

Official Lyrics:

And when I called your house I’m sure your sister thought that I was somebody else
I heard a laugh down the phone and then the answer came that you weren’t at home, oh

You know I never go there because I hate to dance and you really don’t care
Why don’t you go on your own?
How can you lie there and say that you’ll come back alone?

Oh, well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
Oh well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door

Before we go back in, what about those secret smiles that you were giving to him?
Oh, just ‘somebody you met’
Well I go out of my way and this is the thanks that I get!

I’m just a slave to your greed
I’m not the kind of boyfriend that you need
But if you’d like me to go, you’ll get no trouble from me
Just so long as I know

Oh, well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
Oh well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
Take it away Grapper!

Oh well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
Oh well that’s fine, I don’t care anymore
Nobody’s twisting your arm
Here’s the key… there’s the door
I don’t love you anymore

Written and published by Gedge, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – Single version [Reception REC009] TIME: 4:01
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar, accordion); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Amelia Fletcher (additional vocals); Chris Allison (producer)
Released February 1988 as single on 7″, 12″ and CD. First 8000 7″ singles came with gatefold sleeve.

2 – Swedish Radio Session version TIME: 4:18
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums)
Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House; commisioned by Sveriges Radio and broadcase on Bommen programme on 27/03/1988

Both these versions were last released on George Best Deluxe Edition [Edsel EDSJ 9004].

Gatefold sleeve photo

Live Versions:

1 – Munich version TIME: 3:20
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Mike Stout (engineer)
Recorded at the Alabama-Halle, Munich, Germany on 22/11/1987
Originally released on Live Tape No. 2 cassette, now available on George Best Deluxe Edition and Live 1987 [Scopitones TONE CD 025]

2 – Rotterdam version TIME: 3:31
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Simon Smith (drums); Mike Stout (engineer)
Recorded live at VPRO’s Party Doctrine, Rotterdam, The Netherlands on 30/03/1988
Originally released on Live Tape No. 3 cassette, now available on George Best Deluxe Edition and Live 1988 [Scopitones TONE CD 033]

3 – London Town and Country Club version TIME: 2:50
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Simon Smith (drums)
Recorded live at the Town and Country Club, London, UK for BBC Radio 1 on 11/10/1988
Available on George Best Deluxe Edition

4 – Valencia version TIME: 3:13
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Simon Smith (drums); Joe Hickey (engineer)
Recorded at The Arena, Valencia, Spain on 18/11/1988
Available on Live 1988

5 – Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes version TIME: 3:37
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Simon Pearson (drums); Christopher McConville (engineer); Roger Lomas (producer)
Recorded at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, UK on 20/11/2005
Available on Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes The Wedding Present [Secret CRIDE 81]

Live 1987

Live 1987

Live 1988
Live 1988
Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes
George Best
George Best

Video:

Live: 

The song first appeared in the setlist in the Autumn of 1987. It then appeared regularly through to 1990. After that it took a long break, not appearing again until the post-hiatus Autumn tour of 2005. It had another run from the end of 2011 through to start of 2012. It’s most recent airing was during the Autumn tour at the end of 2014.

Two Bridges

I know I seem to say this about a lot of songs on this blog but this one means a lot to me. A few years back I befriended someone who would become very special. As fate would have it, they were also a huge fan of the works of Mr Gedge. When we first heard ‘Two Bridges’ live at the Scarborough and Brighton gigs in the summer of 2013, we were both blown away by the song’s power and intensity. It sounded like a blast from the past freshened up with a 21st century twist. To be able to equally enjoy a song and discuss it passionately alongside someone else was a truly magical feeling.

By the time the single was released later that year and when we saw them play it again in Leeds, we were a couple. When I’ve listened to it since (and I have done, regularly – when Going, Going… was released I played nothing else for weeks), it took me back to those joyful days of early romance. Even though the song is about breaking away from a relationship, it just makes me think of a new one bursting into life. The music helps with that feeling – everything about it feels full of positivism and newness.

Structurally, the song is interesting – bursting along at pace, rattling through two verses and two choruses then, halfway through, it changes direction and starting slowly at first, the piece builds and grows, adding instruments as it climbs and soars all the way through to a breathless finish.

Bridges can be for jumping off of or for taking you from one place to another. This song, thankfully, is about the latter.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

Two Bridges is an area of Manhattan based in sight of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. Any particular emotional resonance of that place? The main thing I think of with Brooklyn Bridge is that it’s where Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man 121/122.

DLG: Ha, ha… trust you to spot that one! Well, you know more than most how comic book culture in general and the Spider-Man stories in particular have been inspirational to me throughout the years! I remember Keith Gregory telling me how shocked and upset he was by that particular watershed story…

The song lyrics are about a person being at a crossroads and taking a chance. What are you like in those situations? Are you impulsive/reckless/a gambler or do you tend to take the safe option, steady with no risks?

DLG: I think I try to be the latter but am probably more like the former. Maybe with age I’ve become a bit less impulsive… I don’t know.

I’m intrigued by the hand claps. I remember the first time I saw it live and seeing the rest of the band doing the little hand clap routine. I couldn’t work out how whole-heartedly it was performed by them and I wasn’t sure how I felt as an audience member. But every single time afterwards that I’ve seen the song played, I can’t help myself but do the hand claps despite knowing I must look silly doing it.

DLG: Ha, ha. Blame Patrick Alexander for that one; I’m pretty sure it was his idea. But it feels like an integral part of the song to me now and I like the playful quirkiness of it. The band were whole-heartedly behind it, yes.

How big was the involvement of co-writers Charlie Layton and Patrick Alexander on this song? They co-wrote a lot of the songs on Going, Going… – how did that that partnership work?

DLG: For those songs Patrick turned up at the rehearsal studio with ideas for guitar parts and a basic notion of how they would fit together and the rest of us would attempt to play along. I say ‘attempt’ because Patrick’s ideas often come from a different world! They’re often, initially, at least, hard to get your head round. That being said I think he came up with some dazzling ideas which both referenced The Wedding Present’s history at the same time as taking us to another place.

Then, as usual, I took those rehearsal room recordings home and did further work on them… adding my parts and thinking about the arrangements and instrumentation.

You re-recorded the song from the single in 2013 to the album version in 2016. What were the reasons for that and what are the main differences? The single sounds a lot rougher and more visceral to my ears.

DLG: We’d played that song live extensively and just felt that we might as well re-record it when we did the first batch of album tracks in Provence in October, 2014. We were playing it so much more confidently by that point, I think… I’d certainly gotten a better hold of the vocal part by then, for example. In addition we were able to take advantage of the huge sounds created by Andrew Scheps in Studios La Fabrique’s cavernous live room. Andrew wasn’t involved with the 2013 single. The drums sound enormous on the second version. I know what you mean though; the first version holds up well and does have a certain feel to it. It was recorded a lot quicker and probably has a ‘live’ or ‘Peel Session’ type of energy to it because of that.

This was first played live back in May 2013 in Bristol. It seems like a good one to play live?

DLG: It’s a rocker, for sure! I have to really concentrate during the end section, though… lots of stressful counting and worrying about hitting overdrive pedals at the wrong time.

Back in 2013, I asked if we could cover the then new single ‘Two Bridges’ for the blog and you said you’d rather wait, as it was part one of something that you didn’t want to talk about. That was clearly what became Going, Going… Was there anything more than that that you wanted to talk about but couldn’t at the time?

DLG: No, it was simply because at that moment I’d just started to think about the concept of Going, Going… and I still had lots of ideas to formulate. I knew that ‘Two Bridges’ was going to play an introductory role in the eventual story but I wasn’t completely sure then what that role was going to be. It was the first Going, Going… song to be written and, in fact, the only Going, Going… song to be finished during 2013 so, at that time, I was still working out how the other tracks would complement it.

You’ve talked a lot about the concept album / road trip concept of Going, Going… but what exactly came first? Was it the songs? Was it the places you visited? Or did you do the whole trip and then look back in retrospect and piece together a concept from what you had experienced?

DLG: The project evolved over a period of time. As I say, ‘Two Bridges’ was written in 2013 and ‘Bear’ was finished in 2014. Most of the album’s other non-instrumental pieces were completed during late 2014 and 2015. But Jessica and I had made the trip during the summer of 2014 [during the 20th World Cup Finals, in fact!] so, yes, it’s safe to say that the journey informed the writing. At the outset I just had a list of twenty locations in twenty different American states that I wanted to visit. The names of those places ultimately became the titles of the tracks on the album, of course. So I had a rough idea of the concept before we embarked on the trip but there’s nothing like driving four and a half thousand miles across the USA to focus your thoughts.

Did the places suggest locations to film (there are watery themes to most of the films that accompany the songs)? You added GPS co-ordinates on the album sleeve so do they match closely to where you and Jessica did the films?

DLG: Yes, we wanted to capture a sense of the journey so we filmed at locations en route. We didn’t initially plan the ‘water’ theme. We just noticed that it was present in the first few films and we decided to incorporate it into all the others. There are various themes running throughout the album… the music, the lyrics, the videos… some came about by accident and some were planned. But the GPS co-ordinates refer to the track titles rather than the film locations.

Going, Going… info:

Track: Five
Journey: 142 miles further South than ‘Sprague’ brings us to the famous city of New York and within it, Manhattan (title of another Gedge song of course).
Place: Two Bridges, Manhattan, New York City
GPS: 41°38’N 72°5’W
Wiki

Official Lyrics:

Of course you’ll scoff but since you’re ‘phone’s switched off
I’m going to call and leave a message now
I’m going to try and explain, somehow, what I’m hoping to achieve
And it’s a coward’s way and I know I may come to regret this bit
But it’s guaranteed that, darling, you’ll succeed in talking me out of it

Because it’s not easy to explain without sounding a little bit insane
I’m in-between two bridges that aren’t so far apart
Where am I going? I don’t care
It’s better than not going anywhere
I’m in-between two bridges and this is where I start

It’s not that I never cared; it’s just that I’m really scared of where my life is going
I did love you and maybe I still do
But there is no way of knowing just what I might achieve  if I don’t ever leave
If I don’t push myself
I know exactly what you will be thinking of but there is nobody else

And, yeah, I’ve mentioned it before, I just can’t think straight anymore
I’m in-between two bridges and it’s breaking my heart
I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just trying to make it work
I’m in-between two bridges and this is where we start

Written and published by Gedge, Alexander & Layton, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – Single version [7″ only, Scopitones  TONE 053] TIME: 4:17
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Katharine Wallinger (bass, backing vocals); Charlie Layton (drums)
Released 21/10/2013

2 – Going, Going… album version [Scopitones TONE 066] TIME: 3:58
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Katharine Wallinger (bass, backing vocals); Charlie Layton (drums); Andrew Scheps (producer)
Recorded in 2014-15 but released 02/09/2016

Live Version:

1 – Two Bridges (Live in Gijón/Xixón)  TIME: 4:06
Available on Going, Going… [on the extra CD of the deluxe version TONE BP 066)
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Katharine Wallinger (bass, backing vocals); Charlie Layton (drums)
Recorded live at Sala Acapulco, Gijón/Xixón, Spain on 07/10/2013. Mixed by Richard Jackson.

13f7_weddoestattoo_3
Two Bridges (7″ single)

The single sleeve (by Dan Johnson) was partially inspired by The Hit Parade singles, with the suggestion that this was #13 (see the flag on the ship). This is because the single was released only on 7″, the same as The Hit Parade and because it was released during The Hit Parade 21st Anniversary Tour of 2013.

the_wedding_present_-_going_going_1200_1200cs621263-01b-big

Video:

Live: 

First played live in the Autumn of 1987 and made fairly regular appearances until 1990. Not got any record of it appearing again until the Autumn 2005 tour. It was aired again from the end of 2011 through the beginning of 2012 and then again at the end of 2014 which was its most recent time in the setlist.

 

Never Said

As I was slightly late to The Wedding Present train, the first time I heard this song was when I got Tommy (a godsend for people like me at the time) which compiled all the early singles with some b-sides and radio sessions. That this song was ‘merely’ a b-side to ‘My Favourite Dress’ was a bit of a surprise to me.

I loved everything about it: the yearning guitars, pounding drum and bass, the pinpoint and heartfelt lyrics sung with both snarl and sadness. It was a tale of such poignancy that it felt like it was ripped from a diary entry that I’d yet to write. This sounded like the sort of thing that would happen to me one day.

Like many songs from this era, it whips along at a frantic pace. Before you know it, the song is over and the narrator is alone. Metaphorically it leaves you breathless with how quickly, and badly, things can sometimes go wrong. Love can be confusing.

So, nearly thirty years on and I still love this song. I never thought the love would last but people get used to things so fast.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

Did this ever come close to being on George Best?

DLG: No, this was in that batch of pre – George Best songs that were just used on the early singles (and ended up being compiled on Tommy, of course). That’s because, with the exception of ‘My Favourite Dress,’ we decided to not use any songs on George Best that had already been released.

Did you deliberately write this song with its relentless momentum to create the feeling of rushing into and out of love?

DLG: I think 90% of the arrangements at that time had that relentless momentum! I like the way this gallops away right from the first plectrum hit on those deadened strings. Those guitars owe a lot to Josef K, I think… and Postcard Records.

As with many other songs, there is an argument at the heart of the song. What are you personally like in arguments? Do you avoid them, enjoy them? Are you a sulker, a shouter, do you try and always fix the issue or would you rather walk away and let the situation cool off?

DLG: I definitely do not like arguments and try my very best to avoid them. I’m not a fan of confrontation but I suppose I like to think that I would stand up for myself if provoked! It depends on the situation, doesn’t it?

One of two songs to specifically reference “Manchester”. Considering you’ve had a few places that you’ve called home, what do you think of the place now in comparison?

DLG: I’m actually typing this in the van as we drive to Stowmarket after playing Going, Going… in Manchester last night. Well, Salford, actually… but, yes, I always enjoy returning there and there’s definitely a feeling of going ‘home’. People speak with the same accent as me and there’s definitely a culture that resonates.

There are some perfectly observed lyrics in this song. What did your dad think of his car being immortalised in song?

DLG: It’s one of those songs where it’s almost as if I’m reading entries from my diary. I’m sure that my dad has never noticed the reference to his car although he did recently ask me to send him printouts of all my lyrics.

Official Lyrics:

I haven’t heard this song in years; it never fails to start the tears
A country lane and the smell of pine, a stripey blouse and some cheap English wine
And my dad’s car would never start but one phone call rescued two love hearts
And did I splash mud on your coat?
Yeah, you wore mine and I got cold

Just what went wrong?
You never said just what went wrong
You never said just what went wrong

We’ve got some good friends still in Manchester
Sometimes I think I’d like to live back there
Oh that was just embarrassing; at times I say the most stupid things
And then your name’s still mentioned next to mine
That’s what you hated at the time
I know I said that it just couldn’t last but people get used to things so fast

Just what went wrong?
You never said just what went wrong

I’ve walked behind you for more than an hour
I don’t even think that I know this part of town
I think I’m trying to find a way to talk to you again
I think I’m trying to find a way to bring you back again
Oh won’t you please come back again

Written and published by Gedge, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – ‘My Favourite Dress’ b-side [Reception Records REC005] TIME: 2:37
Available on Tommy deluxe edition [Edsel Records EDSJ9005]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums);  Chris Allison & The Wedding Present (producers)
Released 13/02/1987.

2 – John Peel Session
Available on Tommy deluxe edition [Edsel Records EDSJ9005] TIME: 2:38
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar);  Mike Stout (bass); Shaun Charman (drums);  Dale Griffin (producer)

Recorded at BBC Maida Vale, Studio 3 on 26/10/1986. First broadcast on 25/11/1986.

the-wedding-present-my-favourite-dress-12-single-_57 theweddingpresentmyfavouritedress392899

Tommy
Tommy

Live Versions:

1 – Live 1987 (Leicester version) TIME: 4:03
Available on Live 1987 [Scopitones Records TONE CD025]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums)

Recorded live at the Polytechnic, Leicester on 05/05/1987.
Originally released on the Live Tape #1 cassette.

2 – Live 1987 (München version) TIME: 2:03
Available on Live 1987 [Scopitones Records TONE CD025]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums)

Recorded live at the Alabama-Halle, München on 22/11/1987.
Originally released on the Live Tape #2 cassette.

3 – Live 1988 version TIME: 2:50
Available on Live 1988 [Scopitones Records TONE CD033]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Simon Smith(drums)

Recorded in Rotterdam on 30/03/1988.
Originally released on the Live Tape #3 cassette.

Live 1987
Live 1987

 

 

Live 1988
Live 1988

Live: 

‘Never Said’ was a regular staple of the band’s setlist from 1986 through to 1988 but has been played very very rarely since. In fact I’m not sure of when it was last played live. If anyone can remember, let me know!

EDIT: Thanks to several commentators who have told me that it was played on four dates in the UK in May 2008.

Video:

No official video exists so this will have to do.

Carolyn

When Seamonsters came out in 1991, it fitted me like a glove. It was moody and angry and sad and sullen. It had some fantastically noisy songs that you could shout to and then there within the depths came this beautifully dark track.

‘Carolyn’ has a troubling intensity to it. It broods and snarls. There’s no shouting; the loudest it gets is when David Gedge growls the final line: “No more”! In the days before the internet made things easy, the lyrics were often bewildering and this song with its vocals buried deep down in the fog, was one of the most hard to decipher and somehow that mystery made me love the song even more. The album is full of classics (apart from maybe ‘Blonde’) and therefore I find this one gets overlooked by fans but not this fan. Not one iota.

Why the name and title ‘Carolyn’? Did it just fit or was there a specific reason?

DLG: No specific reason. I just needed an appropriate three-syllable name. But it was also the name of the girlfriend of Simon Smith, our drummer at the time, so I think that was probably in my head.

I remember you saying once that you like treating the vocals like an instrument and not necessarily high in the mix. This is a perfect example of that. As a lyricist, why do you sometimes like to hide your own words?

DLG: I don’t purposely hide the words; I’m just not a fan of mixes where the vocals are considerably louder in the mix than the other instruments. In the case of the Seamonsters version of ‘Carolyn’ I think the low level suits the whispered delivery.

The live bootleg recording from 15/11/90 has Simon’s drums a lot higher in the mix than most recordings of this song and his drumming over the end section sounds so great. Made me go back and listen to the Seamonsters version and there it is, the same pattern but hidden a lot more in the mix.

DLG: That’s because many of those live recordings are made by simply taking a stereo feed from the venue mixing desk. That means you’re at the mercy of the levels set by the engineer for the concert. In a small space the room will be filled with the sound from the guitar amplifiers on the stage and so the engineer will accordingly have less of the guitars going through the P.A. [and hence the desk]. So, in cases like that, the drums will sound unusually loud in the recording.

When writing the songs for Seamonsters did you find yourself trying to write songs that were more angst-ridden to fit the album aesthetic or was it the other way around – that you were in a place where your song writing was naturally creating very emotional pieces?

DLG: Are the lyrics particularly emotional on Seamonsters? I would argue that they’re written in my usual style but that the darkness of the music possibly enhances the emotion in them.

The song sits between giant fan-favourites ‘Corduroy’ and ‘Heather’ but it’s probably my favourite song on Seamonsters. Do you feel this has led to the song being overlooked over the years?

DLG: Who’s been overlooking it?! Does the position of a track on an album affect its status? I’ve always liked this song, too. It’s moody and quite powerful sounding even though the main guitar is an acoustic. I think my distorted guitar part at the end provides a suitably melancholic final melody.

Based on live bootleg tapes from November 1990, the song had a different chorus originally: “But I won’t be back for tea / Please don’t wait up for me / I’ve got someone else’s key.” Can you remember anything about changing from that to the version we have now?

DLG: Ha… I don’t remember those lyrics at all but it looks like I stripped it down to something a little less flowery, or parochial, for the recording. The ‘final’ version sounds more heartfelt.

Official Lyrics:

Just before you go today, there’s something that I’ve got to say
Well you asked me what was wrong and I didn’t want to tell you

You believed me when I said I tried but oh, Carolyn, I lied
And its gone on far too long and I never tried to help you

But don’t wait up for me
Just don’t wait up for me

It isn’t quite the way you think
How low do you suppose I’d sink?
We can’t bear to be apart
Oh, I’m sorry that I said that

But come on now let’s not pretend
We both knew we were near the end
I don’t want to break your heart but we just can’t turn the clock back

But don’t wait up for me
Just don’t wait up for me
No more

Written and published by Gedge, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – Seamonsters version released 28/05/1991 TIME: 3:40

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass) and Simon Smith (drums) Engineer: Steve Albini

2 – Hit the North radio session version (recorded in 1991) TIME: 3:25
Appears on Seamonsters deluxe re-issue released by Edsel Records in 2014 [EDSJ 9006]

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass) and Simon Smith (drums)

seamonsters-2

Live:

‘Carolyn’ first appeared during the Winter tour of 1990 so it’s likely that it debuted at the Queen’s Hall, Bradford on 03/11/1990. First definite setlist I have with it on is at Barrowland, Glasgow for the 10/11/1990. It continued being played through 1991 but was then dropped and not seen for many years.

In January 2012, the band embarked upon a 21st anniversary tour of Seamonsters where they played the album in full and so it was played in all but one of 89 gigs that year and also the first concert of 2013. At present, that gig at the Forum, Tunbridge Wells on 03/02/2013 is the last time it was played live.

Video:

No official video exists so here’s a live performance from 2012.