From Leeds With Love

Ok to back to something approaching normality.

I spent the weekend up visiting my folks to mark my Dad’s birthday on Saturday. As I’ve mentioned on these pages before, although I probably – no, undoubtedly – would never have admitted it at the time, his record collection has proved to be a massive influence on my own musical tastes over the years.

Pretty much every country record I’ve ever posted here, and in particular most of the stuff I’ve posted recently in my Sunday Morning thread, I first heard via my Dad’s record collection. But there’s another chap, non-country, who my Dad loves, who I previously wrote about here: one Lonnie Donegan.

There was a fairly decent documentary on ITV, of all places, the other week which if you didn’t catch I’d urge you to see if it’s still available on their On Demand service. I mean, you can tell it was an ITV production because they felt the need to have it presented by one of the actors from Downton Abbey, but he makes a pretty good fist of it, including interviews with both the remaining Beatles (including one with Ringo Starr which he manages to get through whilst preventing Starr from waffling on about peace and love), Roger Daltrey and, surprisingly, Jack White. Now if that’s not a recommendation…

White explains how many of Donegan’s songs were American folk songs, and, as proof if proof were needed, today’s selection was first recorded back in 1924, and in between then and Donegan recording it in 1957, such luminaries as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, to name just two, cut versions of it too.


Lonnie Donegan – Cumberland Gap

In 1992, to mark the 40th anniversary of their first publication, the NME released a three-CD compilation album, “Ruby Trax” where they invited current bands featuring on their pages to record a cover version of a record which had reached Number One in the UK charts during those 40 years.

Ruby Trax is probably best know for having spawned this, by the Manic Street Preachers, a balls-out rock version of “Suicide is Painless (Theme from M*A*S*H*)”, which became the bands first Top 10 hit:

The song was released as a double ‘A’ side in the UK, with Fatima Mansions’ frankly rather weird version of Bryan Adams chart-clogger  “(Everything I Do) I Do it for You” on t’other side:


Fatima Mansions – (Everything I Do) I Do it for You

If you’re hearing that for the first time, you’ll not be overly surprised to learn that was the only time that Fatima Mansions came even close to bothering the UK Top 10 (although they did release a few belters, which I’ll deal with some other time).

But elsewhere on the Ruby Trax album, was this version of “Cumberland Gap”, provided by stalwarts of this section The Wedding Present:


The Wedding Present – Cumberland Gap

And, just to make this all nice and circular, it was Wedding Present main man David Gedge’s birthday on Saturday, the same day as my Dad’s. Coincidence? Well, yes, obviously. What are you suggesting….?

More soon.

From Leeds With Love

In 2009, I deliberately made myself feel very old indeed by going to see The Wedding Present on their tour to mark the 20th anniversary of their “Bizarro” album.

The idea was one which many bands have employed both before and since: pick a seminal recording from your back catalogue and perform the whole thing live, with the set list reflecting the running order of the track-listing of the album in question.

I’ve been to a few of these gigs: I’ve seen The Lemonheads play the “It’s a Shame About Ray” album, Teenage Fanclub play “Bandwagonesque”, The Jesus & Mary Chain do “Psychocandy”, Ride relive “Nowhere”, Primal Scream perform “Screamadelica”, and The Wedding Present do both “Bizarro” and “Watusi”. They are all usually accompanied by a Greatest Hits set, and are mostly attended by men of a certain age, like myself, who generally suppress the desire to join the mosh-pit, preferring to pick a good place to stand, preferably equidistant between the stage, the bar and – most importantly – the toilets.

Anyway: Camden KOKO’s 2009, and in between songs Wedding Present main man David Gedge indulged in some fairly good-natured banter with some of the sweatier, more vocal chaps down the front. One exchange went along these lines:

Sweaty Punter: “Leeds United are shit!”

Gedge: “I know. I support Man Utd.”

Sweaty Punter: *silence*

This Sweaty Punter was quite clearly an amateur, a new kid on the block, if you will. For the signs about Gedge’s football allegiances have been clear since…ooooh…1987 when The Wedding Present released their era-defining album which was named after and featured this chap on the sleeve:


For the uninitiated, that’s George Best, and he even agreed to appear in some of promotional shots for the album. Mind you, this was during his drinking days so I wouldn’t want to swear he knew what he was agreeing to.

And from that album, comes today’s cover version:

The Wedding Present – Getting Nowhere Fast

When I first heard the “George Best” album – which, incidentally, remains one of my favourite albums ever, almost thirty years since I first heard it – I had no idea that was a cover version, nor, for that matter, did I  when I bought my second vinyl copy of it 2 weeks after I got to college, my first copy having been pinched after I misguidedly took it to a house party.

But a cover version it was, and here’s the original, part of a self-financed Double A side 7″ single released on the band’s own Record Records label in 1980:


Girls At Our Best – Getting Nowhere Fast

Girls At Our Best (! optional, it seems) also hailed from Leeds, but their football team of choice is, sadly, undocumented.

Now, I’m going to say this very quietly, because this is not something I usually say about a song The Wedding Present have covered: I think I prefer the original. Don’t get me wrong: I bloody love the Wedding Present version, but ever since my late teens I’ve always had a thing about female-fronted indie/alternative bands. See also: The Primitives, The Darling Buds, The Flatmates, My Bloody Valentine, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Echobelly, Sleeper, 10,000 Maniacs, The Audience, Lush, Kenickie, The Cardigans, and many, many more….you get the drift. I’m not sure if this is because I really liked Blondie and Dusty Springfield when I was a kid, or some deep-rooted underlying Freudian psycho-sexual issue I have that I really should have addressed by now. I’ll plump for the former.

Anyway, you decide which you like best. It matters not which, they’re both fecking marvellous.

More soon.

From Leeds With Love

Been a while since I did one of these, the thread being woken from its slumber (once again) by a comment left by JC a week or so ago about the relative merits of Billy Bragg’s cover versions compared with those of Wedding Present stalwart David Gedge.

So, back to 1992 we go, and the seventh single from the run of twelve The Wedding Present released that year. For the uninitiated, on the first Monday of every month, the group released a limited edition 7″ single, with an original composition as the ‘A’ side (ask your dad) and a cover version as the ‘B’ side (ask him again).

In all honesty, the twelve singles in the set were a little hit and miss, as one might expect from such a project, but July (that’s the seventh month of the year right, Gregorian calendar fans?) turned out to have two absolute belters on it.

Here’s them performing the ‘A’ side, “Flying Saucer” on Top of the Pops (apologies, it’s not the greatest quality in the world):

The ‘B’ side on this occasion was a cover of a single from 1974 by a band  who at the time were skirting around on the very outer edges of the Glam Rock scene:


The Wedding Present – Rocket

I speak of none other than Mud.

When Mud released “Rocket” it was on the back of a UK Number One (“Tiger Feet” – if you grew up in the late 70s or early 80s then you won’t have been able to escape dancing to this at some family do or other) and a UK Number Two (“The Cat Crept In”). “Rocket” reached the giddy heights of Number Six in the UK.

Here they are performing it on Top of The Pops:

That’s Les Gray singing; I don’t think I ever saw him without those shades on. He was like a rock’n’roll version of Lennie Peters from Peters and Lee. (There aren’t many pop stars called Les or Lennie these days, are there? Seems a shame, s’all). Before he found fame, Les earned his corn writing jingles for Pearl & Dean – another name that will have readers of a certain age drifting off into nostalgic reverie.

For those who I’ve now completely lost with my pesky “bit before your time” references: this is Peters and Lee:

(Now I think about it, you never used to see Les and Lennie in the same room…it can’t have been, can it….?)

…and this is the Pearl & Dean theme, which would be played before the advertisements at every Odeon or ABC cinema up and down the country (do they still play it now…?):

But I digress.

Shortly after the release of “Rocket”, Mud had their second UK Number One with “Lonely This Christmas”, a song which really capitalised on Les’ distinctive Elvis-esque vocal delivery, and this seemed to herald a change in direction of both sound and image for the band. They started doing cover versions of old rock’n’roll records (their third and final Number One was 1975’s cover of Buddy Holly’s Oh Boy”) in much the same way as bands like Showaddywaddy were having plenty of success at the time.

“Rocket”, then was one of their last original sounding hits. Here you go:


Mud – Rocket

More soon.

From Leeds With Love

Blimey, it’s been a while since I did one of these, hasn’t it, dear reader?

Well, I have to admit that this thread was woken from it’s slumber by Gedge and co doing a session for 6Music’s Marc Riley show the other night. In case you didn’t catch it, it’s here (obviously, that’s for a limited time only).

Anyway, as I think I may have mentioned on one of these here posts before, one of the things I love about The Wedding Present’s cover versions is that they often introduced me to a band I’d never heard of, or knew little about, and such is the case with today’s post.

MI0001680527 The Wedding Present – I Found That Essence Rare

Compare it to the original, and you can see how The Wedding Present’s version is louder and faster. They Weddoed it up, in other words.

Ah yes, the original, as performed by angular spiky-guitared, also-from-Leeds, Gang of Four, and taken from their seminal (I’ve always had a problem with that word. I use here it in the “highly original and influencing the development of future events” meaning, although it’s certainly spunky too) album “Entertainment!”

Entertainment! Gang of Four – I Found That Essence Rare

That line “See the girl on the TV dressed in a bikini,  She doesn’t think so but she’s dressed for the H-bomb” is one of my favourite lines ever.

More soon.

From Leeds With Love

Onwards, to 1989. (I hope you’re not expecting posts in this series to be in any kind of order. Or maybe they are, time being all timey-wimey and all that)

By the way, this has nothing to do with the Leeds/Reading Festival this weekend, although a quick hello to my Glasto-family who are at the Leeds site for the weekend, and have probably been there since about Wednesday.

And so, to Brassneck. Or rather to one of the tracks on the b-side (remember them…??) of the 12″ (remember them….???)

the-wedding-present-brassneck-rca The Wedding Present – Box Elder

Now. I have a confession to make. When I bought this record, I had no idea this was a cover version. In fact, I remained oblivious to this fact until 1992. And then, in December, I ventured down to the metropolis from sunny Peterborough and went to my first ever gig at what used to be called (and still is by right-minded people) The Brixton Academy.

On the bill: headliners – Sonic Youth, promoting their “Dirty” album. Gig opened by Riot Grrrrl troupe – Huggy Bear. And sandwiched in the middle – Pavement, promoting their “Westing (by Musket and Sextent” album.

I knew nothing of Pavement at the time, at least so I thought. Then, as their set approached the end, they played a song that I realised I knew, and the penny dropped.

pavement_westing Pavement – Box Elder

And that was it. A band nobody else (that I knew) knew, that Gedge had endorsed via a cover version on a b-side of a 12″ single. How could I resist..??

From Leeds With Love

Probably the most obvious of covers this week: released in 1990 as part of the 3 Songs EP, a quick look at the vinyl copy I own tells me that today’s Wedding Present cover was the 2nd track on the A side, and you could argue, therefore, not the lead track on the EP. Certainly the sleeve seems to indicate that honour goes to “Corduroy“, but that is the only track on the AA side.

Q: When does the song on the AA side actually become the A side? A: When both sides have been released by The Wedding Present.

So you can hardly be surprised that amongst the confusion, today’s choice is the one that attracted the most attention, hence it being the one they played on one of their oh-too-rare appearances on Top of The Pops. (One of the more indifferent appearances there: microphones? What microphones??) Though not the most indifferent… ) Though I suspect Gedge was merely objecting to the fact that Anthea Turner seemed to be introducing them, again.

284 The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)

Like it? Buy it here

Actually, as far as I know this is the only song that The Wedding Present have released two versions of. For ever-so-slightly earlier in 1990, they released this proto-version as part of the Anti-Poll Tax album, “Alvin Lives in Leeds”:

R-406728-1268881171_jpeg The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) (Alvin version)

Like it? Buy it here (on vinyl)

And here’s the original, like you don’t already own it:

steve-harley-and-cockney-rebel-make-me-smile-come-up-and-see-me-emi-5 Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel: Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)

Like it? Buy it here.

PS: One of the things I love about writing this blog is that when I start digging around for links to include, I occasionally find that an artiste I’m featuring has released something I was unaware of, and such is the case today. I had no idea that the DVD in the Corduroy link existed, and have now bought a copy. Who says that blogging is killing music…??

From Leeds With Love

I have just realised that I had already posted the last songs I discussed in this theme. I really need to pay attention more. I can’t even use the excuse that I was drunk when I wrote it, as it was a “school night” (although I probably was sozzled when I posted them the first time).

Anyway: noted. Apologies. Must try harder.

Most of you will be aware that in 1992, The Wedding Present embarked on a mission to release one 7″ single per month, the A-side being a new composition, the B-side a cover version. Each single was released on the first day of the month and, if memory serves, deleted again one week later.

I, of course, bought every one on the day of release. Still own them all. One day they will be worth a fortune. Maybe. Fingers crossed. (Searches t’internet for a contact number for “Cash in the Attic”)

Anyway, what this gives me is plenty of songs to post, so here’s January’s:


The Wedding Present – Cattle and Cane



The Go-Betweens – Cattle and Cane

Like them? Then Go buy them here and here

From Leeds With Love #1

Before we get back to business, another new feature. (Yes, I am stalling a bit)

I’ve mentioned them a couple of times in passing recently, but Leeds’ The Wedding Present are one of my favourite ever bands; if Super Furry Animals are not, as I’ve previously proclaimed, the band that I’ve seen live most often, then that honour must go to David Gedge and co.

One of the reasons I love them is not just because of their own, self-penned songs, but also for the wealth of songs they have introduced me to by other acts  – and not in a “I really must go and buy the new single by Raymonde/Ludus/insert-any-number-of-bands-here because Morrissey was apparently (but not definitely) seen at one of their gigs” kind of way (although I have shelled out for plenty of records on that basis) but in a more straight forward way: by doing a cover version.

Over the years, The Wedding Present have provided me with a veritable smörgåsbord of cover versions to chow down on; in my late teens/early twenties, when I was at the peak of my completest obsessive record buying mania, these would mostly crop up on semi-obscure various artist compilation albums, which ticked many boxes.

Box One: I owned a brand new Wedding Present cover version which was, generally unavailable elsewhere at the time, and which nobody else I knew had a copy of. Tick!

Box Two: Often I would not have heard of the artiste who had done the original version, which led me to seek out their records. Tick! Tick!

Box Three: There would be at least 9 other tracks on the album by bands I’d never heard of before either. Generally 8 of them were so awful I made a conscious decision to swerve any other records by them, a fact made easy by just how terrible they were. But that 9th one…often a gem. Often, but not always. Okay, often is too generous a word. Sometimes. Sometimes is better. Tick! Tick! Tick!

So, I thought I’d start a new feature where I let you hear the original version alongside that of The Wedding Present – a compare and contrast, if you will. I expect there to be a 2,000 word essay discussing each version on my desk first thing in the morning.

You will see as this series of posts unfolds that a Wedding Present cover version is an indicator of a record which was class in the first place, a seal of approval, if you will. But where to start? The choices are many.

As I write this, it is my brother’s birthday. At least it is where I am; he currently lives and works in India (which is handy, as it’d be a hell of a commute if he didn’t), and in India it is already The Day After My Brother’s Birthday.

As regular readers will remember, my brother’s own record collection had an enormous effect on my own when we were growing up, so to mark both of these facts, today’s post seemed to be an ideal place to kick off from.

The Kindness of Strangers was released in 1988 to raise money for the Save the Children charity. As you will see from the album sleeve, that 1 great Wedding Present cover version : 9 utter duffers ratio is apparent here. I can’t say I listened to the rest of them more than once, if that.


The Wedding Present – Happy Birthday

(Like it? Buy it here) (actually, I can only find The Kindness of Strangers on ebay, so the link is to not to that but to The Wedding Present’s “Complete Peel Sessions” box set instead. This is, to the best of my knowledge, the only other place you can purchase this track)



Altered Images – Happy Birthday (You don’t really need me to tell you about this, do you???)

(Like it? Buy it here)

Happy Birthday, bruv!