Chart success has never been the be all and end all for me. I didn’t form the Wedding Present in order to have hit records and being in the charts isn’t typically an indicator of how good a band is. But I can’t deny that it always feels a bit exciting to be back there. It’s stupid, really… it’s like a big silly game of Monopoly or something… but I suppose success at anything, no matter how trivial, makes you feel good! [David Gedge]
This birthday celebration lark is getting a bit long in the tooth, I must admit, so I shall wind it up with this and get back to posting one or two tracks when I feel like it.
I saw them live! Twice!! I think that’s just about the only band in the Festive Fifty which I can say that about. It was the year after I last saw them that the marketing ploy I have mentioned before, when I posted Falling, came to be. This was releasing 12 seven inches in one year, in a limited pressing of 10,000, once a month. (I was working at Our Price Records at the time, and a certain employee used to buy two copies: one he’d keep and the next sell at a big profit after deletion!!!) They were subsequently collected as Hit Parades 1 & 2.
Seven of these tracks made the Festive Fifty. The January release, Blue Eyes (FF 1992 #24), finds the WP driving force more restrained than usual, in its tale of regret and promise.
April brought the muscular dilemma song Silver Shorts (FF 1992 #18), and May the most commercially successful pick of the bunch Come Play With Me (FF 1992 #4), which reached number 10 in the UK charts. The seemingly coquettish title belies a strong melody which abruptly switches pace halfway through as Gedge hammers home the lyric, ‘it’s over’ to the backing of increasingly frantic strumming.
The whirling sound cribbed from the 70s sci-fi classic UFO opens July’s single, Flying Saucer (FF 1992 #14), and they would later cover that theme tune as the B-side of Queen Of Outer Space. A clip from the TOTP performance of this introduced David Gedge when he appeared as a guest on Peel’s This Is Your Life. Even more memorable is the threatening, growling dog on a leash Love Slave (FF 1992 #19), where Gedge almost bellows the hook to a backdrop of wailing guitar and an impenetrable wall of sound that matches the subject matter perfectly. October was a more poppy time for the band, and it seems as though the ghosts of the previous songs are finally exorcised as Sticky (FF 1992 #41) delivers classic ‘you’re moving out today’ style lyrics.
This strategy would earn them a place in the record books as equalling Elvis Presley’s achievement of the most UK top 30 hits in a single year. However, more than that, it also threw up a heap of quintessential cover versions, of which Falling was the only one that made the FF chart. These were included as B-sides in order to raise the quality of songwriting for the A’s…but, as with everything the band ever did, even these were no slouches. They would subsequently part company with RCA.