Tag Archives: Keith Gregory

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]

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 broadcast 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 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.

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.

One Day This Will All Be Yours

Lyrics:

And they were left all alone
On that fateful day the budgie had a stroke
1940’s bliss…how could it come to this?

Forgotten things they once knew
And now there’s really only one thing left to do
But I think that I’m more scared
Because this country doesn’t care

And one day this will all be yours
And one day this will all be yours

And one day this will all be yours
And one day this will all be yours

But there were bluer skies
When you were just a twinkle in our eyes
Oh but you don’t have to stay
But thank you anyway

Be Honest

Lyrics:

This is all because you didn’t like my mam
Well, I’m afraid I can’t get born again
Oh, it’s not just me who’s changed

And can you tell me what it is you think I said?
And are you sure that it’s not just in your head?
And when was this anyway?

And if we’re really, really going to be honest, we might as well be brief

And, by the way, I got your little
Along with a dryness in my throat
When I saw that it came from you

Oh, was it really too hard to tell me to my face that you don’t long for my embrace
The way you used to do?

And if we’re really really going to be honest, we might as well be brief