The Wedding Present – live at Les Eurockéennes – Belfort, France – July 3, 1992 – RFI – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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The Wedding Present in concert tonight. Recorded live at Les Eurockéennes festival in Belfort on July 3, 1992 by the venerable Radio France International.
The Wedding Present has its origins in the Lost Pandas, which folded in 1984 when Janet Rigby, the drummer for the band, left following departure of guitarist Michael Duane. David Gedge and The Lost Pandas’ bass player, Keith Gregory, decided to continue the band, renaming it The Wedding Present. The name was jointly conceived by Gedge and his girlfriend at the time, as they were both avid fans of The Birthday Party and it was an homage to their favorite band.
Gedge and Gregory recruited an old schoolmate of Gedge’s, Peter Solowka, to play guitar and auditioned a string of drummers, including John Ramsden, and Mike Bedford, with whom they recorded a demo tape, before settling on Shaun Charman. The country’s clubs and bars were toured as the band prepared for the recording of their first, self-financed single. “Go Out and Get ’Em, Boy!” was chosen over early favorite “Will You Be Up There?” Charman felt somewhat insecure about his drumming abilities and so the A-side features drumming by hired hand Julian Sowa (Charman does, however, play drums on its B-side). The single was released on the band’s own Reception Records label with distribution through Red Rhino.
Two more singles followed that did well on the independent charts helped by veteran BBC radio DJ John Peel who was one of their first champions. He invited them to do a radio session (three songs from the session are included on the 1988 compilation Tommy 1985-1987; the entire session had already been released as an EP in 1986), starting a long collaboration. By the time the band started work on their debut album, a number of independent and major record companies showed interest, but the band declined all offers and decided to keep releasing their material themselves. The album was released in 1987 and titled George Best after the well-known Northern Irish football player. Disagreement on production values with the record’s producer, Chris Allison, led to the album being remixed by the band and their engineer, Steve Lyon.
Upon its release, the album was critically acclaimed and the band were soon classified, with some of their peers, as members of the ‘shambling’ or C86 scene, a categorization that they vehemently declined (although they were featured on the original C86 compilation). Musically, the album featured fast-paced rhythm guitar; lyrically, apart from a few excursions into social critique (“All This and More”) and politics (“All About Eve”), Gedge’s main concerns (which would become his trademark) were love, lust, heartbreak and revenge. Soon after the release of George Best, the early singles and radio sessions were compiled and released as Tommy (1985-1987). When Solowka, who has Ukrainian roots, started fooling around with a Ukrainian folk tune during one of their Peel sessions, the idea arose to devote some of their radio time to recording their versions of Ukrainian folk songs, encouraged by Peel. To this end, two guest musicians were invited, singer/violin player Len Liggins and mandolin player Roman Remeynes, and three Peel sessions were recorded with Gedge temporarily limiting himself to playing rhythm guitar and arranging the songs.
To get a better idea of their 1992 period, have a listen to what they were up to at Les Eurockéennes on July 3, 1992.