A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of an afternoon and evening in the company of my old mate Richie, conkers deep in all things Wedding Present.
For a start, we drove over to The Crouch End Picturehouse to watch Something Left Behind, the really rather wonderful documentary about the genesis of the band and the making of their still-great-after-all-these-years debut album George Best.
That was followed by a Q&A session with none other than Wedding Present main man David Lewis Gedge himself and the documentary’s director Andrew Jezard.
Then we hot-footed it over to Kentish Town to watch the band perform as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of their second album Bizarro.
But more of this another time, for what I know you’re all thinking is this: Jez, we all know that George Best came out in 1987 and that you were super cool by then and bought it straightaway, so what are you doing banging on about The Wedding Present here, in your series where you talk about your failures, the songs you didn’t appreciate at the time?
Well as Richie and I stood supping our drinks, chatting and catching up, the interlude mixtape ringing in our ears, when today’s song came on.
“I love this record,” I said. “Hated it when it came out, mind.”
“You’re going to write about this, aren’t you?” Richie gently prodded.
“Probably,” I replied, “and if I do, then I’ll attribute to me anything amusing you might say about it now, of course.”
“But of course.”
Of course, today’s record also falls into that age-old category “it has no guitars on it” category, but I don’t think that’s the reason I failed to fall for it’s charms back then.
No: today’s record came out in May 1979, and I think I was probably just a bit too young to “get it”. I was 9 at the time, and frankly I was more interested in novelty pop records, Shakin’ Stevens and Boney M (I say that like they weren’t novelty pop acts) to be even remotely bothered with this.
At the time I was friends with a lad that I think must have moved away from the area shortly afterwards; certainly he didn’t go to the same secondary school as me and the rest my peers went to, and I never heard from him again.
His name was Steve Corrie, and for a summer holiday or two we spent our time riding around the local estate on our bikes. And when we weren’t doing that, he was telling me how amazing Gary Numan and Tubeway Army were, and I was looking at him blankly, utterly non-plussed.
A few years later, I had joined the ranks of Smash Hits readers; by now, apart from the odd duet with some bloke out of equally unfashionable Shakatak, the hits had dried up for Numan. He only got a mention in the pages of the Hits because he was a horrible Tory, who painted his face white, died his hair purple and wore purple lipstick, and had a pilot’s licence.
“He wasn’t even the most famous person with a pilot’s licence at the time; imagine being outdone by Noel Edmonds…!” Richie definitely didn’t say, he was too busy nodding sagely as I did.
Anyway, here’s the tune, and it is, to use what I believe is young person’s vernacular, an absolute banger:
Gary Numan & Tubeway Army – Are Friends Electric?
Although it came along many, many years later, by which time my resistance had already thawed, this, an absolute staple of the last hour of a night out at Cardiff’s Cool House club night, definitely wore down any remaining barriers.
Tip: play this loud and, as the saying goes, dance like nobody’s looking:
Feel Alive – Pure Orange feat. Shane Nelson