Album Review – Locked Down & Stripped Back by The Wedding Present (Scopitones and Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records)
In the very early 90s, I went to a The Wedding Present gig in my home town of Peterborough. Being a student in London I had been fortunate enough to see the gigs of untold jangle-edged bands, however this was so very, very different.
I vividly remember Brassneck being played. The band going mental with unbridled energy as frontman, David Gedge, stood their motionless (apart from his guitar playing arms) and the slight crane of his neck to accentuate a word or note into the microphone.
It was just awesome. Not in the modern day way that kids use the word to describe some poxy YouTube celebrity or even to say thank you these days, but in that compelling way that ensures you are aware that you are in the presence of ultimate something ultimately special.
Despite the ravages of 30 years and maybe even because of them, I still get giddy with anything ‘gedgeistic’ and this new release is no exception. Created as their contribution to the on-line replacement of Gedge’s, Covid cancelled, At The Edge of The Sea festival, this is the band’s first release to feature new band member and Sleeper guitarist Jon Stewart and sees them re-work 11 tracks from their back catalogue (and a superlative cover of the Sleeper track, We Should Be Together that also includes Sleeper’sLouise Wener on vocals) as decidedly stripped back, semi acoustic versions.
I was not sure how it would all work as surely The Wedding Present is a lot about energy and all about layers of guitars. However, in typical Gedge fashion, he somehow manages to add extra emotionality to the old tracks with You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends, Blonde, Dear Caught in Headlights and Starry Eyed, all benefitting from the extra production sparsity that ensures even more previously unseen textures and lyrical meaning are garnered from deep within Gedge’s vocal performance.
This is an album that will most certainly appeal to devoted fans like myself. However, it would also still stand alone as a quality release, even if the listener had never heard of the band before. Yet more inconceivable cool from the great man and his ever changing band.