The Wedding Present – George Best

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

The Wedding Present is one of my favorite bands. David Gedge is a brilliant songwriter, whose conversational, naturalistic lyrics deftly explore every hidden corner of the romantic psyche. And the music! Starting out as a rapid-fire jangle band, they got progressively louder and darker, and then took a left turn to a more American indie sound. Each incarnation sounded great (though last album Saturnalia was just okay (and I mean, last album of the classic period – I have no truck with post-Cinerama Wedding Present)). Apparently, Courtney Love slapped Gedge while backstage at the Reading Festival after asking him if he was friends with Steve Albini.

What I Think of This Album

George Best was the Wedding Present’s debut album, and immediately demonstrated that they were a force to be reckoned with. Gedge’s strangled vocals may not be for everyone, but they tell mesmerizing stories of love, lust, betrayal, and obsession. The guitars strum about a million miles per minute – scores of British orthopedists will someday reap the benefit of the recording and live performances of these songs. And the song titles:  “Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft,” “Anyone Can Make A Mistake,” “You Can’t Moan, Can You?,” “Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm,” not to mention singles “I’m Not Always So Stupid” and “Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?”

Nearly every song rushes by in a manic jangle punctuated by resounding snare and tom hits. While the Weddoes’ lineup changed a lot over the years, Peter Solowka was in charge of the guitar sound during the best of their classic period, and he is on fire here, spitting out biting leads and also helping spin the web of 100,000 strums that serves as the foundation for each song. Too, drummer Shaun Charman (and on the bonus tracks, the even-better Simon Smith) mostly eschews cymbals for a machine gun beat-heavy approach. The speed of the playing on tracks like “All This and More,” “Anyone Can Make a Mistake,” and “Shatner” is a testament to the band’s early frantic approach. Perhaps it was with a knowing wink that they included a (sped-up, of course) cover of “Getting Nowhere Fast,” by Girls At Our Best! on this album.

But all that jackrabbit jangling and boomy drumming wouldn’t have amounted to half as much without Gedge’s lyrics. “Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft” is a hilariously petty and immature swipe at an ex’s new beau, delivered between desperate attempts at casual conversation; the bass line is as sticky as napalm, and the whistling always makes me smile. “My Favorite Dress” is a sharply detailed exploration of betrayal and heartbreak (“To see it all in a drunken kiss / A stranger’s hand on my favorite dress / That was my favorite dress, you know”).

“Shatner” is an attempt to rescue someone from an abusive relationship that namechecks Captain Kirk in an unexpected way, while “Don’t Be So Hard” explores when one party in a relationship cruelly takes another for granted. “Give My Love to Kevin” is apparently sung from the point of view of a paired-up woman’s jealous lover (“And what does your mother think? / I just can’t bear to imagine you sharing your bed with him”). Each track brings a new and original perspective to unflinching tales of romantic desperation.

The bonus tracks on this disc are a treasure as well, appending nine songs to the original album (four from the “Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm” single and the other five from the “Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?” single). “Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm” features exceptional drumming and a fine set of lyrics from Gedge as a bitter, luckless suitor (“And when I called your house / I’m sure your sister thought that I was someone else / I heard a laugh down the phone / And the answer came that you weren’t at home”) while “I’m Not Always So Stupid” is a charming and heartbreaking admission of obsession (“Every time a car drives past I think its you / Every time somebody laughs I think its you . . . Each time the doorbell rings it might be you / Each letter the postman brings might be from you”) – those initial snare triplets (and the floor tom hits that come later) kill me every time.

Add the classic “Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?,” an acoustic version of “Kevin,” a French translation of “Reasonable,” and some other good songs and this expanded reissue of George Best is unstoppable. Amelia Fletcher of Talulah Gosh/Heavenly/Marine Research/Tender Trap sings unimpeachable harmony on some songs, including the unusual cover of “Getting Better All the Time.”

The Best Thing About This Album

“I’m Not Always So Stupid” is pure brilliance; everything about this song – guitars, drums, lyrics, melody, singing – is perfect.

Release Date

October 1987

The Cover Art

I admit that the relevance of 1960s and ‘70s Manchester United and Northern Ireland football star George Best is lost on me, but it is still a fairly iconic image. Plus, green is my favorite color. I also like that there is no title on the cover – we’re just supposed to know that that is George Best and that that is therefore the title.

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