Boo Boo

In the Spring of 2008 when I first heard El Rey, a lot of the album was new to me. I’d heard a few tracks live, notably, ‘I Lost the Monkey’ and ‘Soup’ during a small Scopitones forum group visit to Barcelona. During this time I was going through some difficult personal moments and I felt a little disenfranchised from the band that I loved the most. A lot of the tracks were hard for me to connect to. Even now I’m not sure if it was me or the music that didn’t feel right.

Certainly I know people who love El Rey and everything on it. It ranges from spiky pop to layered anthems. And if there’s one song that gets universal praise it’s the penultimate track on the album, ‘Boo Boo’. As I mention below in one of my questions to David Gedge, It has a gorgeous structure with several different sections that flow organically like the emotions that the narrator goes through during the course of the evening meal. There aren’t many lyrics but what’s there cover lots of nuance and hidden angst.

The creation of the song is described below by it’s co-writer Terry de Castro. It might surprise people, who think of The Wedding Present as David +3, how much creative scope his fellow band members have had right since the beginning. Terry has co-written ten songs over the years for both this band and Cinerama. She still occasionally tours as a member of the band and of course has a music career in her own right – check out her solo work here if you are unfamiliar with it. https://scopitones.co.uk/terrydecastro.

I don’t think El Rey will ever become my favourite album but there are songs and moments that hit the special heights that no one else’s music can. The beginning and end of ‘Boo Boo’ are in that category. I love the hope and expectancy that the intro brings. I love the burning urgency and frustrated desire that the epic closing section ramps up into. There is only one released version of this song. I’d like to hear a well-recorded live version, that captures the power that it has at a gig, one day.

Commentary from David Lewis Gedge (DLG) and Terry de Castro (TdC):

‘Boo Boo’ was co-written with Terry de Castro. What was the sequence of events in the creation of this song?

TdC: When we were writing songs for El Rey, our method was a bit different to what it became later on. It’s more organic now, with someone presenting a riff to the whole group and everyone working on it together in the rehearsal room. But our song writing method back then was quite meticulous and painstaking. We [meaning any band member] would come up with a riff, usually on guitar, and then convert it into MIDI [Musical Instrument Digital Interface] using a MIDI-compatible keyboard and then send it off to David. He would work with it and manipulate it, to put together a song, and then we would transfer the piece back into a guitar / bass / drums arrangement. For ‘Boo Boo’, I’d come up with a verse and chorus riff on guitar in Los Angeles and then I sent it to David as an MP3 and in MIDI form. He then brought the semi-arranged piece back to the whole group which, at the time, was Graeme [Ramsay] and Chris [McConville]and me, and we worked on it at a rehearsal room in Scotland. Since Chris was the guitar player then, I had to teach him how to play the actual guitar riff, which was initially a lot faster and much poppier. It sounded okay, but we started to wonder how it would sound slowed down, and it was a lot better, so we made quite a perky little pop song into a slow, epic… masterpiece. Ha, ha! No, seriously, it’s much easier to make a song sound good when you slow it down, for some reason, but this one really did lend itself to a slower and heavier approach. And we just kept heaping sections onto the ending, loving the slow build-up to the final crescendo. It’s great fun to play live for that very reason.

Is there anything you can say about the inspiration behind the lyrics? I love the details in lines like the “waiter’s stacking the chairs”; is this something experienced, observed or just made up?

DLG: As usual, it’s a mixture of all those things. I used the idea of the waiter stacking chairs in the background because I felt that it was quite cinematic.

I’ve never heard ‘Boo Boo’ used as a term of affection but maybe I’m the only one. Do you know anyone who uses this name or is it just your tribute to the old Yogi Bear cartoon?

DLG: I have heard someone using Boo Boo as a term of affection, yes, but the fact that it’s a Hanna Barbera cartoon character – although they spell it Boo-Boo – was always going to appeal to me and my never-ending desire to include those kinds of pop culture references in the songs!

The song structure is very interesting. It clocks in at nearly six and a half minutes, starting with a half-minute, glorious, crashing intro, like the excitement leading up to a date. The sections that follow have very sedate verses and anthemic choruses. At 3:45 we move into a ramping instrumental section that builds and builds and it feels like it will lead to something more but then it ends, almost like the end of a night that one hoped would lead to more and doesn’t. How much do you like song structure to match the emotional feel of a song?

DLG: I don’t consciously try to match the lyric with the arrangement of a song. I write the lyrics towards the very end of the song writing process, anyway, and the structure is usually in place by then. The musical arrangement probably influences the lyric writing in some way but I don’t think I would be able to describe how, because it’s different every time. Anyway, more often than not, I’m more satisfied when a ‘happy’ lyric is teamed with a dark soundtrack, for example. Or vice versa.

What lead to the positioning of this track on El Rey? It has all the hallmarks of a traditional final track but you decided to follow it up with the more atypical ‘Swingers’.

DLG: We have a history of doing that, though, don’t we? Even though we never play encores live, some of the albums have an extra atypical track added on, to follow what would you’d think would be the more obvious LP closer. We have ‘You Can’t Moan, Can You?’ following ‘Anyone Can Make A Mistake’ on George Best, ‘Be Honest’ following ‘Take Me!’ on Bizarro and ‘Hot Pants’ after ‘Catwoman’ on Watusi. I guess you could put it down to non-atypical Wedding Present contrariness!

The delicacies of the studio version are replaced with more power when played live. Are you happier with the studio version or when you play it live?

DLG: Is it that much different?! It’s not meant to be. We usually try to replicate the live version in the studio and listening to the album now that version seems to build nicely. The idea is that the drama heightens throughout the end section as the intensity increases. I think that outro is one of my favourite ever bits of Wedding Present music so I love playing it, even though my part is quite challenging!

Official Lyrics:

Well yes, it’s late; the waiter’s stacking the chairs
But, never the less, just wait; I don’t think he really cares
And if we leave now I’ll be kicking myself all week because we get so few chances to talk just like this
And I would regret just saying: “See you,” because this is something that I really miss
So I aim to detain you for as long as I dare

You just don’t get it at all, do you?
Boo Boo!
The reason I call is that I still love you

Your eyes are glistening as you fill my glass to the brim and, though I despise listening to you talk about him, seeing you being with that man is much better than not seeing you at all
And you can’t leave
Not when we’ve been having such a ball

You just don’t understand, do you?
Boo Boo!
That tonight was all planned because I still love you

You just don’t get it at all, do you?
Boo Boo!
The reason I call is that I still love you

Written and published by Gedge / de Castro [whose publishing is administered outside of the Eire and The United Kingdom by Kobalt Music except for in Canada and The United States Of America, where it is administered by Superior Music].

Studio Version:

1 – El Rey version recorded January 2008  TIME: 6:24

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Christopher McConville (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass) and Graeme Ramsay (drums) Steve Albini & Pete Magdaleno (producers)

 

Live Versions: none

Live:

‘Boo Boo’ wasn’t played live until several months after the release of El Rey. It debuted on 01/09/2008 at the Barfly in Birmingham as the set closer. It stayed throughout the tour that carried on until the end of the year. It continued as a fixture during the next tour in March 2009. it then disappeared from the set for nine years before re-appearing in March 2018 and was played on and off throughout the year with its last time out at the time of writing being 03/10/2018.

Below is a live version by the 2019 line-up of the band as recorded by John Marshall (who as of last night, the 06/04/2019, has now seen The Wedding Present 200 times. Well done Marshall!

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I’m From Further North Than You

The first time I heard this song was on a Cinerama bootleg from early 2003 when it was called ‘Edinburgh’ and I was living down South. Piecing together in retrospect it may have been its first live airing at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen. There were some shrieks in the crowd upon its debut which is quite unusual as new songs usually take a while to warm to but I can understand why it got that reaction. It’s a special song and the band clearly thought so too as it was carried forward upon the transference to The Wedding Present and was the second single pulled from Take Fountain.

There’s the lovely way the song throws you straight in the middle of a conversation. What is it that led to someone having to explain where they are from and why were they mistaken in the first place. But the song, despite its anthemic shout-along moments has its dark alleys. It’s a song about a failed relationship. One that you look back upon and shake your head and wonder why on earth you stayed in it for so long. But there are lighter moments. I mean, any song that can have a verse that contains the phrases ‘weird pornography’, ‘counting planets’ and ‘red bikini’ is clearly a work of genius!

When I started experiencing the song live for myself I noted that, two-thirds of the way through when the guitars kicked in to that growling riff, that it sounded a bit like the old Weddoes sound. I recall hopping up and down to that refrain at the Garage in London in April 2004 and not even dreaming that just ten months later I’d be at the first gig of the ‘reformed’ Wedding Present playing the same song at the Spring and Airbrake in Belfast.

Just this past Summer I saw the song played again at the annual Gedge festival in Brighton and funnily enough he now lives down there in the South and I now live near Leeds. It’s funny that one of the first times I spoke to David, it was after I’d spoken to his then-partner Sally and I remember saying to him that I couldn’t understand her Northern accent. He pointed out that actually she was actually from down South and I realised that I’d just assumed she was a Northerner. She was actually probably from further South than me.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

This was originally titled ‘Edinburgh’. What inspired that title and why the change to how it is now?

DLG: The original title was suggested by the story in the lyric… i.e. that the narrator had met someone with a Scottish accent but had initially mistaken them as being from the south of England. Edinburgh has always been one of my favourite cities and so I decided to use that as being where the other person was from. I think it sounded quite romantic to me. But, later, I decided that, firstly, I wanted the title to be more literal but also, I wanted to reference that pride of being northern that would cause a northerner to feel appalled if someone mistook them for a southerner! Hence the outrage implied in “No, I’m not from the south, I am from further north than you!”

It’s a well-loved song and is enjoyed as a celebration but the song lyrics are actually quite melancholic. Do you have any thoughts about songs that are treated in ways that are different to their original feeling?

DLG: I suppose you’re right that it’s melancholic but my intention (as is often the case) was to inject some humour into an unfortunate situation. It’s one of our poppier songs, after all. The turnaround between “I admit we had some memorable days” and “but just not very many!” still makes me chuckle.

Do you feel different in living in different places? Does north/south or east/west mean anything to you anymore?

DLG: It does, yes. I get a distinctive feeling whenever I’m in a different parts of these islands and I still feel like I have returned ‘home’ whenever I’m in the north of England. That’s not to say any one place is better then another… but now I live in Southern England I’m acutely aware of a different mind-set in the people here.

The video for the single was filmed in Edinburgh. This involved a bit of acting, was it something you enjoyed?

DLG: It didn’t come instinctively to me, no! You’d think it’d be easy to just play yourself but as soon as the camera is rolling I find it incredibly difficult to even portray myself in a natural way.

This was chosen as a single. Any stories behind this? Were there any other songs that could have followed ‘Interstate 5’?

DLG: While we were recording Take Fountain both this and ‘Interstate 5’ screamed ‘single’ to me for different reasons. ‘Interstate 5’ had this huge, slightly ominous, sound which, to me, signalled a new Wedding Present album on the horizon whereas, this, as I say, just felt like pop music to me. I say ‘just’ but I love pop music, of course!

Just to confirm, the noise at 1:19 is Simon Cleave on guitar, not a dog, yeah?

DLG: It’s actually me… revving up to play my overdriven guitar part with a flick of the plectrum. There was a dog recorded during the Take Fountain sessions but it’s not on this track!

This got to number 34 in the single charts at the time when Top Of The Pops was still going. Was there a call-up?

DLG: Did it? Pretty impressive for a record label run from a rented flat in Newhaven, huh? But, no… no Top Of The Pops invitation for this one, I’m afraid!

Take Fountain brought the name of The Wedding Present back and there was a return to many of the sounds that fans associated with older tracks. This song, even in its Cinerama days, gave glimpses of what was to come. Did you think back, when writing this song, that it could be part of what was to come?

DLG: Not at all. We wrote this in early 2003 when our band was Cinerama and we had no thoughts of it ever being anything else other than Cinerama! Maybe that’s why it has a lighter feel… it’s rooted in a kind of Cinerama style indie-pop rather than something like ‘Interstate 5’ which was written a year and a half later.

Official Lyrics:

And then you said “No, I’m not from the south,
I am from further north than you!”
And with that you kissed me full on the mouth
And that was when I knew you were either drunk or you wanted me
and, you know, either way I wasn’t going to disagree

But how did one crazy night turn into six weeks?
How can we be ‘going out’ if neither of us speaks?
I think we’re the same in many ways and I admit we had some memorable days

But just not very many
I just think we both need more and we cant ignore how unhappy we were
I’d been abandoned by her and you needed a friend

All right the night we walked into the sea; I guess that was okay
And when we bought that weird pornography, yeah, that was a good day
The first time I saw your red bikini I just couldn’t help but stare
And when we counted planets in the sky, I was just happy you were there

Yes we’re the same in many ways and I admit we had some memorable days

But just not very many
I just think we both need more and we cant ignore how unhappy we were
I’d been abandoned by her and you needed a friend

Written and published by Gedge / Cleave [whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Kobalt Music except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music].

Studio Versions:

Single version [ScopitonesTONE 019]] TIME: 3:30
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Kari Paavola (drums); Steve Fisk (producer)
Released 14/02/2005

Klee remix version (appears on 7″ version of the single as well as compilation Search for Paradise [Scopitones / TONE 023]) TIME: 4:00
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Kari Paavola (drums); mix by Klee
Released 14/02/2005

Acoustic version (from Search for Paradise compilation) TIME: 2:17
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Charles Layton (drums)
Recorded at Yellow Arch, Sheffield
Released 29/05/2006

John Peel session version (on Season 3 CD as well as the Cinerama Complete Peel Sessions boxset) [Sanctuary Records ‎– CMXBX1526] TIME: 3:27
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Kari Paavola (drums)
Recorded 08/05/2003; first transmitted 04/06/2003

Take Fountain

Live Versions:

Live in New York (Cinerama): Recorded at The Knitting Factory on the 28th of June 2003 [Scopitones ‎– TONE 031] TIME: 3:17

Shepherds Bush Welcomes the Wedding Present: Recorded at Shepherds Bush, London 20th November 2005 [SECRET RECORDS – CRIDE81] TIME: 3:26
Performed by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry De Castro (bass); Simon Pearson (drums)

Live in Leeds (The Wedding Present): Recorded at Leeds Metropolitan University 6th June 2006 [Scopitones ‎– TONE DL 032] TIME: 3:29

Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes

Video:

The promo video as directed by Tim Middlewick and starring David Gedge and Annie Bergin, filmed in Edinburgh.

The song also appears in live performances on the DVDs for An Evening With The Wedding Present which is the DVD version of the Shepherds Bush live CD and also Drive, a DVD compiling the band’s 2005 North American tour.

Live: 

First played in 2003 by Cinerama when it was called Edinburgh. It was then played extensively by The Wedding Present upon the release of Take Fountain across 2004-2006. It returned to the set in 2011-2012 and again in 2017-2018.

Jump In, The Water’s Fine

(First played live in October 2018 and on a session for Gideon Coe on 6 Music on 08/10/2018)

Lyrics:

I’m going to mend you
I will defend you
Whatever’s wrong I’m sure
That I can find the cure

I know how to heal you
I won’t let anyone steal you
Away from my side
You don’t need to hide

Jump in, the water’s fine
Your problems are now mine whatever they might be
I’m the solution to your woes
The foe of all your foes
Oh you can count on me

Jump in, the water’s fine
Your problems are now mine whatever they might be
I’m the solution to your woes
The foe of all your foes
Oh you can count on me

Jump in, the water’s fine
Your problems are now mine whatever they might be
I’m the solution to your woes
The foe of all your foes
Oh you can count on me

Panama

(First played live in October 2018 and played in session on Marc Riley’s 6 Music show on 08/10/2018)

Lyrics:

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama
A man, a plan, a canal, Panama
It’s the greatest show on Earth
It’s the greatest show on Earth
My dear, let me make this clear
I am whole-heartedly given myself to you
And I’ll be your friend to the bitter end
Because love is the best thing that we do

A Christmas Eve in 1968
A Christmas Eve in 1968
It’s the greatest photo of her
It’s the greatest photo of her
My dear, let me make this clear
I am whole-heartedly given myself to you
And I’ll be your friend to the bitter end
Because love is the best thing that we do

It’s the greatest show on Earth
It’s the greatest show on Earth
My dear, let me make this clear
I am whole-heartedly given myself to you
And I’ll be your friend to the bitter end
Because love is the best thing that we do

What Did Your Last Servant Die Of?

It’s 30 years since I first heard George Best.  The whole thing was a blur. Both the album which rushed by in less than 39 minutes and the 30 years of my life since.  A bruising and occasionally joyous mish-mash of love, life and everything in-between. That’s the album and my life since.

There are times in your life when you stop and wonder where you are going and where you’ve been. When you wonder whether anything was ever worth it, whether your life has any real meaning. When you look back and count how many years of your life you’ve spent in a job or doing things for someone else’s benefit and for what? What did you get out of it?  Everything requires effort and all of us have to work you know. But sometimes you have to move on. Change is healthy, change is good. Time to make a new start.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

I know you don’t like to talk about specifics but does this song represent a real relationship and time that you can talk about?

DLG:  I think it’s well known that much of the subject matter on George Best is drawn from the period when I broke up with my first ‘serious’ girlfriend but I guess this lyric also touches on how I get annoyed with people who I think are being lazy! I think my parents are responsible for instilling some kind of ridiculously obsessive work ethic in me. The song’s title is actually a phrase my mum used to use when me, or my brother, would ask her to do stuff for us. When Graeme Ramsay was in the band he used to joke that ‘Of What Did You Last Servant Die?’ would’ve been a more grammatically correct title and I can never get that out of my mind, now!

“Well some of us have to work you know” – between University and being in bands, did you have any ‘real’ jobs? If you’d not become a musician, is there a job that you’d have liked to have done as a career?

DLG: I had a temporary job mailing out catalogues for a mail-order electronic components firm for a few weeks in order not have my unemployment benefit cut but I’ve never had an actual ‘real’ job, as my parents would call it, no. If The Wedding Present hadn’t’ve been successful I would’ve liked to have been a radio DJ, I think.

“Of course you’ve got things to wear!” – clearly you find sexual politics interesting, are you a believer in the ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ school of psychology that thinks the sexes are very different in how they approach situations and solve differences?

DLG: Yeah… I’m fascinated by the differences between the genders and the efforts to determine how much of it is nature and how much of it is nurture. I suppose the mathematician in me appreciates seeing behaviour defined by sets of rules but when I’m investigating relationships during lyric writing that rule book is often thrown out of the window. Whatever the reasons for it, I do feel that men and women are generally quite different, yes.

You’ve mentioned how George Best is just one theme/speed/dimension but some live performances change the dynamic and make this track almost sound mellow in comparison to the others. How changeable is this in a live environment?

DLG: Well, we wouldn’t change it consciously to play it live… unless there was a specific reason to do so. I can see why this one might appear laid back compared to some of the other, more frenzied, George Best tracks but it’s actually quite a strenuous one to play live, for me, because, for much of the song, I’m singing and playing a very fast strummy rhythm guitar at the same time. So mellow is the last word I’d use to describe it! Good job it’s only two and a half minutes long, then…

On the album, the song fades up and is placed between two upbeat/frantic songs in ‘Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft’ and ‘Don’t Be So Hard’. What was the thought behind such production and sequencing decisions?

DLG: Sequencing an album can be difficult. You need opening and closing tracks and then you aim to create a flow and momentum between them. And it doesn’t always make sense to increase variety by having a fast one followed by a slow one or a mellow one after a frantic one because that can sometimes sound disjointed. There’s a real skill to it, I think, and I remember having endless conversations about the sequencing of George Best during the album mix.

On the Swedish radio session version from 1988 included on the Edsel Records version (disc two), what is you say at the end of the track? Is it in Swedish?

DLG: Yes, it is… but I can’t remember what I was saying and I can’t translate it because I don’t speak Swedish!

Did you enjoy re-recording this and the other tracks on George Best 30 with Steve Albini?

DLG: I wouldn’t say ‘enjoy’ in as much as I don’t really do any of this for fun, ha, ha… but it was certainly interesting to re-interpret the songs with a group of musicians who were different from the people who originally recorded it. There was a definite attempt at re-invention coupled with a desire to honour the original album. We actually played it a lot quicker than the original, which is hard to believe. It’s also interesting that George Best 30 features the band playing completely live in the studio and being recorded onto tape… whereas the original involved drum programming, sequencing and sampling! So, weirdly, the recording techniques used on the new version actually predate those on the 1987 one!

Lyrics:

Is that a letter you’re hiding from me?
Well I think I’m being used again
Let me open it and see
That’s not what I wanted to hear
There’s a time and place for everything and that time is coming near

Do you have to spend so much time on your hair?
Well couldn’t you started earlier?
Of course you’ve got things to wear!
I didn’t pick up your coat on the way
Well some of us have to work you know
Have you been sitting there all day?

All that I’ve done for you
After all that I have done for you

All that I’ve done for you
After all that I have done for you

Written and published by Gedge [whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Kobalt Music except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music]

Studio Versions:

1 – George Best version [Reception LEEDS1] TIME: 2:44
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass); Shaun Charman (drums); Chris Allison (producer)
Released 12/10/1987

2 – Swedish Radio Session version TIME: 2:39
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 broadcast on Bommen programme on 27/03/1988

Versions 1 and 2 were included on George Best Deluxe Edition [Edsel EDSJ 9004].

George Best
George Best

3 – George Best 30 version [Scopitones TONE 74] TIME: 2:19
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Christopher McConville (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Graeme Ramsay (drums); Steve Albini (producer)
Recorded at Electrical Audio, Chicago in 2008. Released in June 2017.

Live Versions:

1 – Munich 1987 version TIME: 2:53
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 Live 1987 [Scopitones TONE CD 025]

2 – Rotterdam 1988 version TIME: 2:47
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 1988 version TIME: 2:15
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: 2:19
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 – Dublin 2007 version TIME: 2:11
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Christopher McConville (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Graeme Ramsay (drums)
Recorded at the Village, Dublin, Ireland on 23/11/2007
Available on Live 2007 [Scopitones TONE 30]

Live 1987
Live 1988

Video:

The above mentioned Live 2007 is both a CD and DVD of the Dublin concert so there’s a live performance on there.
Here’s a nice fan-made video though with footage of George Best and the (misspelled) lyrics:

And here’s a nice acoustic performance of the track from 2007:

Live: 

The song first appeared in the October of 1987 during the tour to launch George Best. and was a staple of the set through to the end of 1988. It then disappeared along with most of that album until the 20th anniversary tours in 2007. Other than some short runs in the set in both 2010 and 2013, it didn’t fully return again until 2017 for the GB30 tour.

[Thanks to Ben Cleverley for the suggestion]

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.

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: