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:
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 (! 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.