The Wedding Present – Hit Parade 1

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 5)

I like it when bands play little parlor tricks, imposing constraints upon themselves to see if they can subvert the limitations and still create something worthwhile. Stephin Merrit of the Magnetic Fields has made a career out of it, and I know the Raveonettes recorded early releases in specific keys. So I am a cheerleader for the Wedding Present’s gambit in 1992, when they released a new single every month, the A-side being the original and the B-side a cover.

What I Think of This Album

Whereas the 1989-1991 singles compilation had mostly boring cover songs, the highlight of Hit Parade 1 is the choice of covers. The originals are fine, but the covers are a treat. Hit Parade 1 covers (see what I did there?) the first six singles from 1992, offering the A-sides as the first six tracks with the B-sides bringing up the rear. I should note that to write and record an original and a cover in a month, and then to keep on doing it every month, is no small feat – I’m sure it helps if you have no other responsibilities, but getting these songs written, rehearsed, tracked, produced, mastered, and finalized in thirty days is a considerable challenge.

“Blue Eyes” was the January A-side (previously captured on the 1989-1991 collection), and it’s an excellent song, with new guitarist Paul Dorrington capably replacing Peter Solowka. “Go Go Dancer” is rambunctious and fun – almost out of character for the band after the chasm of emotions that was Seamonsters – but comes very close to being filler. March was a good month for the band, with spiky “Three,” which features a wonderful lead guitar line and typically excellent drumming from Simon Smith. “Silver Shorts” hints at what was to come on Watusi (right down to the title), with a more spare sound and a new vocal approach from Gedge, despite the reliable bashing from Smith. “Come Play With Me” is a pretty good ballad, until it speeds up and then it becomes a fun rocker, though the lyrics could’ve used a little more work. “California” is the weakest track here, but again has a lighter, airier sound predicting the turn on the next studio album.

As for the covers . . . well. First up is the Go-Betweens’ “Cattle and Cane.” I should be nervous when one favorite band covers another, but Gedge and company do a nice job with a lovely – nay, iconic – song that would seem too delicate for their rough hands. More in their wheelhouse is Neil Young’s “Don’t Cry No Tears,” which gets a predictably muscular and impressive working over. Almost-contemporaries Altered Images are the beneficiaries of a cover of “Think That It Might,” which sounds fantastic. The band really dug deep in April, choosing to cover Julee Cruise’s “Falling” (which was actually written by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch); I would have never dreamed of the Wedding Present taking this on – it is truly an amazing cover. A rip through “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King) sounds pretty much like you think it would. Finally, they pay tribute to C86 contemporaries Close Lobsters with a killer version of “Let’s Make Some Plans.” Possibly the most fun record the Wedding Present ever made.

The Best Thing About This Album

I think March’s pairing of “Three” b/w “Think That It Might” just beats out January’s “Blue Eyes” b/w “Cattle and Cane.”

Release Date

June 1992

The Cover Art

I mean, it’s difficult to imagine someone putting in less effort on this. My copy does not have the RCA logo on it.

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