How NOT to write about music – 96. The Wedding Present

the wedding present

I haven’t admitted to a love for The Wedding Present for many years, but I recall writing a spirited defence of their second album Bizarro shortly after arriving at Melody Maker, the result of which meant that none of my august new colleagues (David Stubbs, Simon Reynolds, Chris Roberts, the Stud Brothers et al) ever took my musical taste seriously again.

I’m not sure they did before, thinking about it.

My defence went something along the lines of, “It is impossible for you to dislike this music if you love music, so there is no point even arguing with me on this point because it makes no sense”. I believe it was no more or less sophisticated than that. John Peel attempted a similar line, claiming “The boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the rock’n’roll era – you may dispute this, but I’m right and you’re wrong.” Us Weddoes fans, we brooked no dissent. We knew what we liked, and what we liked came in surprise bursts of full-on euphoria and post-Orange Juice guitar storms, and much finer lovestruck couplets than (constant reference point) The Smiths because Morrissey never sounded sincere. Every girl I knew, or dated, had a crush on Gedge.

For myriad Maker writers howling mirth over numerous pints of Tennants Smug down the Stamford, this merely increased the sense of merriment. What, the lumpen dullard Northern proletariat articulating love and emotion? Time to get your coat, ET.

Ian Gittins used to say he always knew when a record was going to be good because I’d have given it a good kicking; and Nicky Wire later on invented an entire sub-genre: “Horrible Everett True music”. (Ironic then, that when he came to release his debut solo album it was full of horrible Everett True music.)

Fortunately, I do not have a copy of the Bizarro review to hand with which to embarrass myself further.* Also, their first album is way better. As The Guardian put it a couple of years ago, “their debut album, George Best, was like hearing your own internal monologue sung back at you by a breathless Yorkshireman.”

My colleagues’ scorn and mirth had an unlooked-for side effect: freed up of the encumbrance of having to worry about my taste, I thus had free rein to write about whatever I liked.

I could go on to destroy music for a generation: grunge.

(You don’t spot the connection? Have a listen to the riff on The Wolfhounds’ brilliant 1987 12″ single ‘Anti-Midas Touch’.)

Now it can be revealed. Grunge was Everett True’s revenge on my colleagues who refused to take my taste seriously. Sticking it to The Man by, um, becoming The Man.

It was all David Lewis Gedge’s fault.

Link to the music here.

*I find the album near unlistenable now, greatly preferring the one that came before (George Best, 1987) and the one that came after (Seamonsters, 1991), produced engineered by Steve Albini. Another grunge link.

**And they were fucking awful when they played Brisbane six years back. So bad, that me and Charlotte didn’t even look out David to say hello afterwards.

This is a good interview.

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How NOT to write about music – 25. Salad

Salad The Selfishness of Love

I have long noticed the debilitating effect time and distance have upon my critical facilities.

A few years back, my resistance to 1980s soft rock finally crumbled and  – freed of the encumbrance of tribal allegiances, Mod style and distaste towards the male form (this is a lie) – I spent many a happy month wallowing in the sounds of Foreigner, Rainbow, Boston and Ellen Foley. I say ‘happy’ but as these months coincided with the start of the divorce process, you will have to imagine the myriad emotions associated with the description. Some could argue that my fondness for Nirvana’s Nevermind was rooted in a similar musical love but I ain’t having that. My fondness for Nirvana in the early 1990s was absolutely rooted in a sense of identity. There has been a gradual shifting and erosion of my identity in recent years, from one rooted in a more belligerent defensive template – witness the way I would get up on stage to swear floridly at strangers in the 1980s at a time when I could not even look friends in the eye – to one which is… I wouldn’t say comfortable (I have never been comfortable in my own skin) and I hotly deny any charges of ‘given up’ (to such an extent that I start to worry)… not so eager to defend lines that to all intents and purposes were imaginary in the first place.

There again, life itself is a construct.

Last night, I found myself enjoying the rasped R.E.M. sounds of Minneapolis’ Soul Ayslum over the closing credits of Clerks (another media that has accrued emotional pull for me over time). The debut Soul Ayslum album was OK I recall, being in thrall to the same thrall Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth and pals were in thrall to, but not by this point – surely?

Whatever.

I will even listen to Supertramp and Kate Bush these days.

So, Salad then. A band that passed me by, back in the early 1990s. Don’t think I disliked them, just didn’t notice them. There was too much other stuff going on. (Alcohol and blagging and self-pity, mostly.) Perhaps if they’d grown to be as big as Echobelly I would have ended up interviewing them, but… they occupied a similar place as Sleeper and… duh. No idea. Dubstar? If they’d lived in Brighton maybe we’d have been mates but they didn’t so we weren’t. Probably preferred Frantic Spiders but then, old territorial me would say that, wouldn’t he?

Not anymore. These days, it is highly possible I do not expose myself to even 5% of the music I once did (this alters my perceptions) but damn this new song sounds great. Sparky and nervous and full of slightly restrained energy and belting harmonies and a BIG CHORUS… if I had heard it without knowing the name, I’d have gone for it sure. A little bit Pulp perhaps. A little bit Aussie. Some menace, some beautiful grating guitar, not old and cantankerous even though that’s the way many of us turn, but alive and alert to the possibilities of love… goddamn it, meant to type life there but love makes more sense anyhow.

Where are we now? This is silly-good catchy. This is Elastica good. Also, it reminds me of my long-term Worthing sweethearts La Mômo… and that makes me happy. Don’t know why the following is only a short preview, but why the fuck not. First new stuff since 1997 apparently, but … uh … not that I’d know it. So catchy I wanna go back and listen to the old shit, see if I did miss something first time round.

I’m just happy to be here.