ASH play forest Fest 2023

The Wedding Present have had eighteen UK Top 40 hit singles… not bad for a band that has, from its inception, stubbornly refused to play the record industry’s game. It all started in 1985 when David Lewis Gedge boarded a National Express coach in London with 500 records packed into a pair of his mother’s suitcases and, in this fashion, delivered the band’s debut single Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy! to a distribution company in Yorkshire. That pioneering spirit has been at the core of the band’s philosophy ever since. From George Best, “an unmitigated delight” [NME], the first full-length release on their own Reception Records onwards, the band has charted an appealing, if often eccentric, course of its very own.

With their early releases The Wedding Present had acquired a reputation for bittersweet, breathtakingly honest love songs immersed in whirlwind guitars, so it was extraordinary that Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela, with the band exploring traditional Eastern European folk music, should be their major label debut for RCA Records. “(They) carry off what is basically a bold experiment with verve” [NME]. However, this was soon followed by the more traditionally incendiary Bizarro, “simply unbeatable” [Melody Maker] which featured their first hit single Kennedy.

The next step, made with characteristically twisted Wedding Present logic, was to enlist the aid of the noise-mongering [and, at that point, relatively unknown] sound engineer Steve Albini. The resulting Seamonsters, recorded in the snowy wilds of Minnesota in just 11 days, suggested a more thoughtful Wedding Present. The Guardian newspaper noted that: “Albini has given The Wedding Present considerable weight, with Gedge’s voice trickling between banks of scowling guitars”. Indeed, the singing ranged from sensual whispering to feverish screams.