"My Favourite Dress" (1987).
"A Million Miles" (1987).
"Take Me!" (1989).
"Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (1992).
"Step Into Christmas" (1992).
"Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah" (1994).
"Him or Me (What's It Gonna Be?)" (1994).
"Kerry Kerry" (1998).
"Ringway to Seatac" (2005).
"Interstate 5" (2005).
(All tracks by the Wedding Present except 14–15 by Cinerama; tracks 1–9 and 15–18 on Manifesto, 10–13 on Island, and 14 on spinART/Cooking Vinyl.)
"Jealousy is an essential part of love," surmised David Gedge on an early Wedding Present single, bemoaning "a stranger's hand on my favorite dress." He's followed that and similarly unhealthy credos for the past 20 years, rarely taking his eyes off the prize of revenge and guilt. The most obsessive English rocker since the early Elvis Costello, Gedge in some ways outpaces the emotional scalding of This Year's Model. Costello, after all, worked within a larger sociopolitical context. One of the few times Gedge looked up to peer beyond the Girl, his band, and his record collection—like Costello's, the breeding ground of a seemingly inexhaustible mine of apt covers—the result was "Kennedy," a mess of would-be Americanisms ("too much apple pie") and jibes at the Onassis family.
"Shambling" was the adjective that was stuck to many of the C86 bands (named after a NME giveaway cassette from 1986), but it never fit the Wedding Present. Whether engaged in rapid-fire late-Velvets strumming ("Take Me!") or a more measured, crunching approach (much of 1992's beloved, Steve Albini–produced Seamonsters), the Weddoes' various lineups have proven sturdy accompaniment for Gedge's tales of distress.
His willingness to take stabs at anything from Girls at Our Best to the Shaft and Cheers themes, Ukrainian folk tunes, and Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road–era "Step Into Christmas" led, perhaps inexorably, to Gedge's late-'90s decision to put the Wedding Present into deep-freeze. For half a decade, Gedge pursued a vision of noir-pop (itself an outgrowth of 1994's "Spangle") with Cinerama. Notable for string arrangements redolent of Al De Lory's work on Glen Campbell discs like "Wichita Lineman," the project nonetheless retained rock instrumentation. By the end of its run, Wedding Present songs had crept into its live sets.
A longtime connection with Seattle—Steve Fisk produced the 1994 Watusi—saw Gedge finally moving to the city for an extended stay. As titles like "Interstate 5" and "Ringway to Seatac" demonstrate, the re-formed Wedding Present's Take Fountain was heavily influenced by Gedge's time here. "Larry's" finds him stuck in reverie in the grocery store's aisles, amazed to find a Queen Anne housewife bringing to mind a lost lover. Such tormented material doesn't appear to be running thin as Gedge hits his 40s; in turn, his diary-entry lyrical approach can be seen as an influence on young bands like Art Brut. The latter's recent "Good Weekend" ("We've tried it a variety of ways/I've not slept in about four days") and "Really Bad Weekend" could have come from the session that produced Gedge's own "Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft." Just as there will always be an England, so will giddy, lovesick pop survive and thrive.
Rickey Wright is a Seattle writer.