I was first introduced to The Wedding Present back in the late 80’s early 1990’s. Back in 1989 or so I was lucky enough to get a job at the local record shop so my musical pallet was always getting peppered with tons of new music that I had never heard before. The shop manager I worked with was a big fan of most of the music that came out the U.K. at the time. I remember The Wedding Present being in heavy rotation at the shop. As the years passed the band had 18 top 40 U.K. hit singles and at one point even released a single every month for a year. This was a feat that only the great Elvis Presley was able to accomplish before them. I find it quite amusing that here I am almost 30 years later receiving a copy of the George Best anniversary album to review. Lets dig in.
Back in 2008 veteran British indie rockers The Wedding Present were just putting the finishing touches on what would become the bands seventh album El Ray. Recording in Chicago with legendary producer Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio studio, original bandleader and last original member David Gedge had an idea. The band had recently come off tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album George Best in which they played from front to back dozens of times. It was sounding quite fresh again and David had the idea of rerecording the tracks live in the studio. Albini was reluctant but recorded the live session, which ended up being a very quick and easy project. It is not a recreation of the debut album but is a reinterpretation of the songs played at a bit faster pace than the original. I personally love when bands do things like this. I love hearing the progression that occurs over the years. In listening to the original it now sounds quite thin compared to the live recording but the energy is still there after all those years.
Nothing became of the recording for many years. It sat untouched just waiting for the right moment to be released to the masses.
Fast forward to September 2017. The Wedding Present release its ninth studio album entitled Going, Going…. and head out on the road touring in its support. October rolls around marking what was now the 30th anniversary of George Best and finally after nine years the Albini produced rerecording was to see the light of day.
The Wedding Present certainly have continued to endure the always unpredictable music industry, evolving from its humbled beginnings as a fast paced mix of punk rock and new wave influence to a seasoned structured more mature band. With many label changes as well as lineup changes David Gedge remains the driving force behind the British indie rock band.
Another surprise this year to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of George Best is the documentary film The Wedding Present: Something Left Behind which chronicles the 30 year lifespan of an album that has come to mean so much to the once youthful fans who grew up listening to its brilliance. The film which is scheduled to be released sometime in 2018 interviews all four original members as well as telling the albums whole story through fans who have been there with the band since the very beginning. The film ends with the bands homecoming concert in Leeds on December 9, 2017. The concert marked the final live performance of the album George Best bringing to a close the tremendously meaningful chapter in the life of David Gedge and The Wedding Present.