Tag Archives: 2007

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]

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Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Drunk

Around 2007 The Wedding Present started previewing songs live that would eventually end up on the album El Rey.  One of which was entitled Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Very Drunk  and featured the lines: “she spoke a line of Holly Golightly’s from Breakfast At Tiffany’s, she said “Don’t take me home until I’m very drunk””. I loved the song and soon after watched the film to spot the line where the gorgeous Audrey Hepburn said this dialogue. Shock, horror. These words were not what she said in the film. What happened next is explained by David Gedge in his Q&A below. Suffice to say for now, that this was the closest I will ever get to co-writing a song with the master.

To the song itself – it starts with a lovely breathy vocal “The heaven’s were alive with stars” before the rest of the band comes in. The cute, romantic nature of the song is highlighted from the second line referencing the film mentioned above. It’s all coy and delicate and gentle. By the end of the song though the narrator has been dumped again and he looks back realising that ‘love’ for one is just ‘like’ for another.

This could almost be a late Cinerama song with it’s  melodic guitar play courtesy of Christopher McConville. Nothing too extreme, just a playful bit of noise in the bridge but overall this is a story rather than an explosion. Terry de Castro’s beautiful backing vocals end the piece highlighting the painful, possible truth that maybe no two people can ever love one another to the exact same degree

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

How did this song first come about?

DLG: I originally called this ‘Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Very Drunk’ because it’s a line that Audrey Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly, uses in the 1961 film Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Or, well, at least I thought it was…

Leigh Hunt, the author of this very blog emailed me to let me know that the line from Breakfast At Tiffany’s was actually “Don’t take me home until I’m drunk. Very drunk indeed!” Leigh thought that I’d changed the quote to make it fit the song but, no, I’d just remembered it incorrectly. Accordingly, I altered the lyric and consequently the title so that it was exactly as it was in the film. On the recording, after the ‘very drunk indeed’ line you can hear the sound of a squeaky-voiced little Japanese toy that we brought back from Tokyo.

What are your thoughts on the song now?

DLG:  I love playing this live. It obviously falls into the ‘poppy’ section of The Wedding Present catalogue, which is why we chose it for a single. But I think it’s a good pop song and has one of my favourite lyrics. My co-writer on this song was Chris McConville [guitar; The Wedding Present, 2006-2008] who’s one of the best musicians I’ve ever worked with and who has a real knack for coming up with some ingenious and catchy tunes.

Going to take a wild stab in the dark and assume you are a massive Audrey Hepburn fan? Is Breakfast At Tiffany’s your favourite of her films? Can you say what it is you like about her?

DLG: Well, I always like a good romantic comedy and Breakfast At Tiffany’s is one of the very best, although it’s totally different from Truman Capote’s original novella, which I also love, but which is considerably darker. And yes, of course, Audrey Hepburn is heartbreakingly cute in it! And there’s a Henry Mancini score, too, which is the icing on the cake…

It’s a pain that feels so real. Telling someone you love them and they reply back that they like you. Has it happened to you? Have you said that to someone else?

DLG: Without going into specifics… of course it’s happened to me! Hasn’t it happened to everyone?!

The song was highlighted on How The West Was Won with an acoustic version. Plus there was also a remix, something you don’t normally do. What was the thought process behind all of that?

DLG: I thought that the song would stand up to the acoustic treatment… they don’t always, it has to be said… so we did that… but then Chris, who’s also a recording engineer, fancied having a go at a remix, too. He called it the ‘Team Wah Wah’ mix after a comment Steve Albini had made during the recording of El Rey. It’s a pretty crazy version.

Any thoughts on the video?  Chris smashed a guitar – real or fake one? You all look pretty bored. 🙂

DLG: Well… it’s pretty boring making a video! You have to mime to the song over and over again, don’t you? It is a real guitar, yes… but just an old cheap one from a second hand shop in Bristol where we filmed the video.

The song sounds Cinerama-y in places and then occasionally a nice squeak of feedback comes out. Did any of this start as a Cinerama song?

DLG: No, it was always a Wedding Present song. We wanted it to build in intensity throughout, though… hence the later overdrive and distortion pedals. I think it sounds heavier when it’s played live.

Nick Hallworth asks: If the Holly Golightly quote was the seed for the whole tale, one wonders how long David Gedge sat trying to think of a rhyme for ‘drunk’. I wonder – did he consult another song telling a tale of relationship discord… ‘You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk’? Neil Tennant set the standard by coming up with monk, punk, sunk and junk.  Whereas David somehow managed to weave a tree trunk into the picture!

DLG: Ha, ha. I’ll have to listen to that song. That’s a great title. Well, I always spend ages on rhymes, far too long probably… but I think the trunk one works particularly well in terms of scene setting…

Official Lyrics

The heavens were alive with stars
She pointed out which one was Mars
Lying arm in arm against an old tree trunk
She used a phrase of Holly Golightly’s from ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’
She said “Don’t take me home until I’m drunk. Very drunk indeed!”

We talked about a second date
She said that meeting me was fate
And, though I don’t believe in that crap, I said “Yes”
We both knew where the night would end
But when we kissed, I won’t pretend, I still shook with apprehension, I confess

And then I said “I could fall in love with you”
But, as I recall, she said “I like you too”

And that little word was the warning sign
That little word meant she’d never be mine, as I discovered the next day
A text on my phone saying:
“I don’t know whether I mentioned him last night, but I’m getting back together with my old fiancé
I’m sorry, by the way”

And, when I think about that night, I wonder if perhaps I might not have done every single thing I could
But, deep down, I know I was blind; she just used me to make up her mind
But if I had to do it all again, I would

And then I said:  ”I could fall in love with you”
But, as I recall, she said “I like you too”
Yeah, I could fall in love with you
But as I recall, she said “I like you too”

Written and published by Gedge / McConville. Gedge’s publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV.

Studio Versions:

1 – El Rey/How The West Was Won version recorded January 2008  TIME: 3:07

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

2 – Team Wah Wah Remix (How The West Was Won) TIME3:44

3 – Acoustic version (How The West Was Won)  TIME3:33

Recorded by Ulysses Noriega

Live Versions: none

220px-TheWeddingPresent_ElRey

The+Wedding+Present+-+How+The+West+Was+Won+-+5%22+CD+SINGLE-449734-2

Live:

The song was introduced throughout live shows in 2007. Since it’s release on record in 2008 though it’s rarely been played.

Video: (directed by Tim Middlewick)

Don’t Talk, Just Kiss

It was February of 1990 and things were about to change. The Wedding Present had recently come out of the studio with renowned engineer (not producer!) Steve Albini, he of Pixies, Nirvana, Black Flag etc. fame. According to David Gedge at the time, he might finally be able to reproduce the ferocious sound that the Leeds-based band had so far not been able to capture on record. The Brassneck EP [RCA ‎– PT43404] was the first result of that collaboration and it was a blessing from the gods. Four tracks of blistering and powerful guitars including the finest song ever recorded in the title track. Nestled comfortably on that EP was Don’t Talk, Just Kiss, a song of yearning and lust.

The protagonist is pleading with the girl to forget her boyfriend (“He’s probably not even there”). There’s a desperation inherent in the lyrics familiar to many a young male. Nothing is more important than this moment even if it involves cheating and infidelity. “Don’t talk, just kiss”: so simple and yet words that resound with anyone who has ever been drawn to someone they can’t or shouldn’t have.

The most striking thing about this song however and something that really comes across live is the tempo change between the verses and the choruses. Twice, the verse leads into a ferocious storm of guitar as the drums double up in speed and lead into the “If you’re worried he’s so near” segment. At a gig, this has always led to an uncontrollable amount of moshing, such is the excitement that this combination of speed and rhythm and noise create.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

Do you have any memories of how the idea first came to you?

DLG: I have a vague memory that “Don’t Talk, Just Kiss!” was the title of a novel I saw in a bookshop once and the idea of how lust can be so powerful that it can overcome the need for conversation immediately appealed to me!

Any general thoughts on the song now and whether you like playing it live?

DLG:  It’s an exciting song to play live, primarily because the fast bit is so frantic. Charles Layton [drums; The Wedding Present, 2005 onwards] agrees and adds: “I love playing this song live. It has a great driving and punky feel to it… from the two thumping drum hits at the beginning to the guitar driven verse and then the double time chorus. The bass intro back to second verse is a nice touch, too. An early precursor to Corduroy, I feel!”

Is there anything you would change about the song now?

DLG: From a boring technical point of view I think it should be in a slightly higher key because the vocal is right at the bottom of my range. The only other annoying thing is that the pop group Right Said Fred released a single the year after we released “Don’t Talk, Just Kiss” with exactly the same title… and theirs went to Number 3 in the British charts!

I remember hearing this song live for the first time. It was ferocious and hasn’t let up since. Do you deliberately play it as aggressively as possible knowing it will generate a massive physical response?

DLG: It’s not played like that just to generate a response, no… it’s just that a certain amount of aggression is required for the playing of some Wedding Present songs… and this definitely falls into that category!

Did a specific incident lead to this song? Some of the lines seem so spot-on that I can’t imagine any of it being ‘made-up’. Lines about missing trains and waking up “near you” put this in the sometimes-rare category of ‘Romantic Songs’. Do you find it as easy to write such happy, thrilling lyrics as this compared to the more painful, angst-ridden ones?

DLG: I find it difficult to write any kind of lyric, to be honest, which is why I spend a long time doing them. If an incident in a song hasn’t happened to me directly I’m usually writing from the point of view of… if this had happened to me, what would I think? What would I say? What would I do? Etc. In this case I wanted the lyric to match the urgency and impatience of the fast section.

At the time it felt wasted as a b-side. I remember people thinking it should be a single before it appeared on the Brassneck EP. Any thoughts to it being an a-side?

DLG:  I think that any song that reaches a standard high enough for us to consider recording has the potential of becoming a single. I guess we just thought Brassneck was the more appropriate song for the A-side on this occasion.

The tempo change for the chorus was a first for you I think. Any idea what inspired that?

DLG:  When we are arranging a tune we will try countless different ways of playing it until something clicks. That kind of tempo change technique only suits certain songs, though… so we don’t use it that often. But it when it does work it can really enhance an arrangement.

Official Lyrics:

He didn’t see me
He sort of looked uneasy but I’m sure he didn’t guess
Oh, he’s never liked me
And, yes, OK… it might be a bit better if you left
Oh, was it me who said that?
No please, come straight back
You’ve got to stay with me somehow
Well, say you missed your train
What have you got to gain by leaving here right now?

If you’re worried he’s so near you might as well go back
You were never here, oh, why would I say that?
Look, everybody lies about this
Don’t talk, just kiss!

If you’re worried he’s so near you might as well go back
You were never here, oh, why would I say that?
Look, everybody lies about this
Don’t talk, just kiss!

I want to wake up near you
Oh, yes, of course I hear you but you’re just off back to row
Well, put yourself above him
Look… if you really loved him I don’t think you’d be here now
Oh, come on, what do you care?
He’s probably not even there
Oh, yes, I’m sure he’d sit and wait|
It’s just whenever you touch…
Oh, God, I want you so much
And you can’t say it’s too late

If you’re worried he’s so near you might as well go back
You were never here, oh, why would I say that?|
Look, everybody lies about this
Don’t talk, just kiss!

If you’re worried he’s so near you might as well go back
You were never here, oh, why would I say that?
Look, everybody lies about this
Don’t talk, just kiss!

Don’t talk, just kiss
Don’t talk, just kiss
Don’t talk, just kiss
Don’t talk, just kiss

Written and published by Gedge. Gedge’s publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Music International.

Studio Versions:

1 – Brassneck EP version  released 05/02/1990  [RCA PT43404] TIME: 3:16

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

Live Versions:

1 – Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes released 2007 [SECRET RECORDINGS CRIDEBI] TIME: 3:26

Recorded 20/11/2005 at Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Simon Pearson (drums) Mixed & mastered: Roger Lomas; Live Sound Mixed: Christopher McConville

2008-03-04_brass

Shepherd's Bush Welcomes

Live:

Played regularly from 1989 to 1991 and then on and off since the reformation in 2005. In 1989, it often opened the shows such was its popularity.
It was finally officially released as a live version in 2007 on the Shepherds Bush Welcomes cd [Secret Records Limited ‎– CRIDE81] plus there’s the appearance on the video Spunk which combined live performances with promo videos (See below).

Video: 

From Spunk: