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!