"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!" - John Peel
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.
The band came up with their next intriguing idea in 1992. By the end of December, The Wedding Present had released twelve singles, one per month, equalled Elvis Presley’s 35-year-old record for “most hits in one year”, rekindled everyone’s interest in that ultimate pop format, the 7″, and led the NME to describe the band as “casually revolutionary and underhandedly unique”. A gang of impressive names, including Ian Broudie from The Lightning Seeds and legendary Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller collaborated on the industry-challenging project, ultimately to be compiled on the two Hit Parade albums and awarded “record of the week” by Tony Parsons in The Daily Telegraph.
Watusi, produced by Steve Fisk (a prime mover in the celebrated avant-garde scene of Seattle) whisked the band off into yet another new area with its lo-fi pop, three-part a capella harmonies and Waikiki-ready surf strains. This “strong, multifaceted album” [Select], sprinkled with 60s and 70s pastiches, was described by critics as their most varied and dynamic to date.
The band returned to England to record their next release, the car themed Mini, “a gem of a record” [Melody Maker] in which Gedge cloaked his tales of love, lust and infidelity with automobile symbolism. To commemorate this release, the band played [with two drummers!] at the BBC’s ‘Sound City’ event, which was held that year in Leeds. During the concert, the winner of a prize draw was announced and a lucky Wedding Present fan became the owner of a real life classic Austin Mini motor car provided by the band and delivered by David Gedge himself!
The follow-up, self-produced album, Saturnalia, was again released to a flurry of critical approval. The NME exclaimed that “David Gedge has just written one of the best pop albums of the year” while The Melody Maker noted that in the new recordings, which were completed in the London studios belonging to The Cocteau Twins, you could “hear an experimentalism that would send half of New York back to the lab”.
It was at this point in 1997 that Gedge started work on a new project called Cinerama in which he indulged his love of film music from John Barry to Ennio Morricone via Serge Gainsbourg, Blaxploitation, easy listening and surf music! Cinerama started life as a duo [Gedge and his girlfriend Sally Murrell] together with a shifting line-up of collaborators. 1998′s Va Va Voom “turbo-driven melodies and bittersweet vignettes taking in everything from John Barry to the Zombies” [The Times] featured The Church’s Marty Wilson-Piper and Emma Pollock from The Delgados. Following its release, Gedge recruited the rhythm section of the disbanded Goya Dress (Terry de Castro and Simon Pearson) together with Wedding Present guitarist Simon Cleave for his new band.
Cinerama released a clutch of singles in support of their debut LP, as well as a number prior to 2000′s Steve Albini-recorded Disco Volante “dangerously, seductively sweet” [Melody Maker]. Notable were the heart-rending Superman (complete with alternative Spanish take) and the six and a half minute epic Health And Efficiency (also available in French).
The third Cinerama studio album, Torino (released in 2002), was much darker than the first two, with Gedge returning to a more guitar driven sound and deciding to write predominantly about infidelity. “Cinerama are escaping the shadow of Gedge’s illustrious indie-legend past. Torino is a giant beast of adulterous lyrical fantasies, cult soundtrack flourishes and the screams of Albini-engineered guitars” [Uncut].
At the end of 2002, Gedge and Murrell split up and he decided to leave Leeds, his home for the preceding twenty-four years, and move to Seattle, Washington. Following the end of this fourteen-year relationship, Gedge began writing a collection of songs apparently influenced by his despair over the split. Take Fountain, the resultant album, was recorded in Seattle by Steve Fisk and released, perhaps ironically, on St. Valentine’s Day 2005. This saw Gedge reviving the Wedding Present name for the first album since 1996′s Saturnalia to a torrent of critical acclaim. “Fans have long since recognised Gedge as more poet than pop star. Like Byron without the marsh fever, Take Fountain confirms his status as an extraordinary songwriter” [The Times].
In January 2008 the band assembled in Steve Albini’s Chicago studio to record El Rey, which was released in the summer of that year to further praise. The Guardian newspaper described how “Gedge has consistently been way ahead of other, more lauded musicians”. At the end of 2008 Gedge fulfilled a long held ambition by releasing a bona fide Christmas song, Holly Jolly Hollywood, a duet with American chanteuse, Simone White.
Now back in the UK, April 2009 saw Gedge collaborating with the BBC Big Band for the bi-annual FUSE Festival which was held back in his home town of Leeds. For the event he performed Wedding Present and Cinerama songs backed by eighteen world class musicians including legendary 'James Bond' trumpeter Derek Watkins. In what proved to be a busy yet unusual year for Gedge he also made his debut as a radio DJ in Texas, released his bass player’s solo album on his label Scopitones and launched his own annual self-curated mini-festival, At The Edge Of The Sea, in Brighton, England. Also in 2009, two Take Fountain songs, I’m From Further North Than You and Ringway To Seatac, appeared in the award winning independent film Skills Like This.
In 2012 The Wedding present released Valentina to further rave reviews. Of the album, which was mixed in L.A. by Grammy award winning producer Andrew Scheps, Magnet [USA] said: "guitars meander before slicing, the rhythm section is taut and Gedge hits all of his favourite topics - love, lust and spite - often in the same three or four minutes". Another notable release in 2012 was the 4 Chansons EP which saw Gedge singing four tracks in French and which was followed in 2013 by the 4 Lieder EP in German and in 2014 by EP 4 Cân in Welsh!
In a comprehensive reassessment of the band, 2014 saw Edsel Records re-releasing eight Wedding Present albums in deluxe multi-disc 'extended' editions which brought together a wealth of historic recordings, radio sessions and videos.
Such has been the unpredictable nature of Gedge's career over the years, hardly anyone could have been surprised when he announced yet another remarkable project in 2015. Collaborating with Spanish indie legend Pedro Vigil he decided to 're-imagine' The Wedding Present's Valentina album as Cinerama. The resulting recording was also entitled Valentina and was described as "a truly sparkling and uplifting concerto for the modern age" by Vive Le Rock Magazine. Cinerama celebrated the release of this remarkable album with live performances in London & Barcelona and for BBC Radio 6 Music using additional musicians including a string quartet, brass and a flautist. The London concert was subsequently released on CD & DVD as Live 2015.
In 2016, The Wedding Present released their ninth studio album, Going, Going..., which featured references to Gedge's previous works, including self-referential lyrical moments and has been described as "his masterpiece". Loosely based on a road trip across the U.S.A., the double LP was described by Louder Than War as “A remarkable album. A joy from start to finish," and went on to become the band's first British Top 40 album since Saturnalia. In October 2017, The Wedding Present performed Going, Going... live, accompanied by films, a string section and a choir at Cadogan Hall, the home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in London. Also in 2017, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their debut album, George Best, The Wedding Present released George Best 30. This album featured brand new versions of the original twelve songs recorded by Steve Albini and mixed by Andrew Scheps. 2017 also saw the publication [by Red Planet] of Sometimes These Words Just Don't Have To Be Said - a 450 page 'fanthology' of the band.
In 2018, KneejerkFilm released Something Left Behind - a feature length documentary telling the story of the George Best album. The film, which featured interviews with all four original band members and was produced and directed by Andrew Jezard, appeared at several film festivals.
In 2019, The Wedding Present released Tommy 30, which was comprised of brand new versions of the early songs featured on their first singles compilation Tommy [originally released in 1988]. Also in 2019, Gedge fulfilled a long held ambition by releasing a Wedding Present picture disc [called Jump In, The Water's Fine] which featured specially commissioned artwork by Darren Hayman. 2019 also saw the publication of Sleevenotes, a book in which David Gedge described the background to his songwriting and recording.
With live concerts being curtailed during 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Wedding Present turned their hands to facilitating a more virtual existence. This included various live streams and the home recording and filming of 12 semi-acoustic tracks for an online version of Gedge's At The Edge Of The Sea festival. These were compiled and released on an album called Locked Down And Stripped Back in 2021. 2020 also saw the release of the first instalment of David Gedge’s long-awaited autobiography Tales From The Wedding Present, featuring stories from the comic book series of the same name which had existed between 2012 and 2019. Another notable release in 2020 was Not From Where I'm Standing – a double album featuring covers of James Bond themes by various artists calling themselves 'The Wedding Present & Friends' – the profits of which were donated to the charity CALM. Finally, the target of a crowd-funder for a future musical to be based on Gedge's songs was also reached and, as a result, this is now in development.
WEDDING PRESENT BASIC DISCOGRAPHY [first physical release only]
Singles / EPs
Go Out And Get 'Em, Boy! (Reception 1985)
Once More (Reception 1986)
You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends (Reception 1986)
My Favourite Dress (Reception 1987)
Anyone Can Make A Mistake (Reception 1987)
Nobody's Twisting Your Arm (Reception 1988)
Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now? (Reception 1988)
Kennedy (RCA 1989)
Brassneck (RCA 1990)
3 Songs EP (RCA 1990)
Dalliance (RCA 1991)
Lovenest (RCA 1991)
Blue Eyes (RCA 1992)
Go Go Dancer (RCA 1992)
Three (RCA 1992)
Silver Shorts (RCA 1992)
Come Play With Me (RCA 1992)
California (RCA 1992)
Flying Saucer (RCA 1992)
Boing! (RCA 1992)
Loveslave (RCA 1992)
Sticky (RCA 1992)
The Queen Of Outer Space (RCA 1992)
No Christmas (RCA 1992)
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah (Island 1994)
It's A Gas (Island 1994)
Sucker (The Wedding Present 1995)
Mini EP (Cooking Vinyl 1995)
2, 3, Go (Cooking Vinyl 1996)
Montreal (Cooking Vinyl 1997)
Interstate 5 (Scopitones 2004)
I'm From Further North Than You (Scopitones 2005)
Ringway To Seatac (Scopitones 2005)
Club 8 7" (Scopitones 2012)
4 Chansons EP (Scopitones 2012)
2 Chansons (This Will Be Our Summer [USA], 2013)
4 Lieder EP (Scopitones 2013)
Two Bridges (Scopitones 2013)
EP 4 Cân (Scopitones 2014)
Back A Bit... Stop! [German Version] (This Will Be Our Summer [USA], 2014)
Meet Cute [Welsh Version] (This Will Be Our Summer [USA], 2015)
Hove Sessions EP 1 (Demon Records, 2015)
Hove Sessions EP 2 (Demon Records, 2015)
Home Internationals EP (El Segell Del Primavera Records [E], 2017)
Huw Stephens Session (Hatch Records, 2018)
7777777 (Wiaiwya Records, 2018) - split single with Cinerama
Davni Chasy (Hatch Records, 2019)
Jump In, The Water's Fine (Come Play With Me, 2019)
George Best (Reception 1987)
Bizarro (RCA 1989)
Seamonsters (RCA 1991)
Watusi (Island 1994)
Saturnalia (Cooking Vinyl 1996)
Take Fountain (Scopitones 2005)
El Rey (Vibrant 2008)
Valentina (Scopitones 2012)
Going, Going... (Scopitones 2016)
George Best 30 (Scopitones 2017)
Tommy 30 (Scopitones 2019)
Locked Down And Stripped Back (Scopitones 2021)
Tommy : Singles 1985-1987 (Reception 1988)
Hit Parade 1 (RCA 1992)
Hit Parade 2 (RCA 1993)
Singles 1995-1997 (Cooking Vinyl 1999)
Singles 1989-1991 (Manifesto [USA] 1999)
Search For Paradise : Singles 2004-2005 (Scopitones 2006)
Yé Yé : The Best Of The RCA Years (Camden Deluxe 2007)
How The West Was Won : Singles 2008 (Vibrant 2008)
BBC Radio Sessions
John Peel Sessions 1987-1990 (Strange Fruit 1993)
Evening Sessions 1986-1994 (Strange Fruit 1996)
John Peel Sessions 1992-1995 (Cooking Vinyl 1998)
Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela: Ukrainian John Peel Sessions (RCA 1989)
The Complete Peel Sessions (Castle Music 2007)
Marc Riley Sessions : Volume 1 (Hatch 2016)
Marc Riley Sessions : Volume 2 (Hatch 2017)
Marc Riley Sessions : Volume 3 (Hatch 2019)
The Complete Ukrainian John Peel Sessions (Hatch 2019)
Marc Riley Sessions : Volume 4 (Hatch 2020)
Shaun Keaveny Session (Hatch, 2020)
Live 1987 (Scopitones 2007)
Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes The Wedding Present (Secret Records 2007)
Live 1988 (Scopitones 2010)
Live 1989 (Scopitones 2010)
Bizarro : Live in Tokyo, 2010 (And Records [Japan] 2011)
Live 1990 (Scopitones 2012)
Live 1991 (Scopitones 2012)
Live 1992 (Scopitones 2013)
Live 1993 (Scopitones 2015)
Live 2007 (Scopitones 2017)
Live 2017 [Part 2] (Scopitones 2019)
Live 2010 (Scopitones 2019)
Videos & DVDs
*Punk (BMG Video 1990) - live concert filmed in Leeds in 1990 plus promotional videos
Dick York's Wardrobe (BMG Video 1993) - 'Hit Parade' promo videos with a voice-over by Alan Freeman
An Evening With The Wedding Present (Secret Films 2008) - live concert filmed in London in 2005 with an interview with David Gedge
Drive (MVD [USA] 2011) - live concerts filmed in North America during 2005, with interviews
Books & Comics
Thank Yer, Very Glad [book] (Omnibus Press 1990)
Bizarro [music & lyrics book] (EMI Music Publishing 1990)
Tales From The Wedding Present [David Gedge's autobiographical comic book series] (Scopitones, 2012-2019)
Valentina : The Story Of A Wedding Present Album [book] (Scopitones / HarperCollins 2012)
Snapshots [graphic novel] (Scopitones 2012)
Going, Going... [lyric & song-structure notebook] (Scopitones 2016)
Sometimes These Words Just Don't Have To Be Said [fanthology book] (Red Planet Publishing 2017)
Sleevenotes [David Gedge discusses songwriting and recording] (Pomona 2019)
Go Out And Get 'Em, Boy!: Tales From The Wedding Present Volume 1 [David Gedge's autobiography in comic book form] (Scopitones 2020)
CINERAMA BASIC DISCOGRAPHY [first physical release only]
Singles / EPs
Kerry Kerry (Cooking Vinyl 1998)
Dance, Girl, Dance (Cooking Vinyl 1998)
Pacific (Elefant [Spain] 1999)
Manhattan (Scopitones 2000)
Wow (Scopitones 2000)
Lollobrigida (Scopitones 2000)
Your Charms (Scopitones 2000)
Superman (Scopitones 2001)
Health And Efficiency (Scopitones 2001)
Quick, Before It Melts (Scopitones 2002)
Careless (Scopitones 2002)
Don't Touch That Dial (Scopitones 2003)
It's Not You, It's Me (Go Metric! [USA] 2004)
I Wake Up Screaming (Artificial Head Records [USA] 2013)
The Girl From The DDR [Live] (Come Play With Me, 2015) Split single with Harkin
7777777 7" (Wiaiwya Records, 2018) - split single with The Wedding Present
Va Va Voom (Cooking Vinyl 1998)
Disco Volante (Scopitones 2000)
Torino (Scopitones 2002)
Valentina (Scopitones 2015)
This Is Cinerama [singles 1-4] (Cooking Vinyl 2000)
Cinerama Holiday [singles 5-8] (Scopitones 2002)
Seven Wonders Of The World [singles 9-14] (Scopitones 2014)
BBC Radio Session Compilations
John Peel Sessions (Scopitones 2001)
John Peel Sessions: Season 2 (Scopitones 2002)
John Peel Sessions: Season 3 (Castle Music 2007)
The Complete Peel Sessions (Castle Music 2007) - with sleeve notes by Andrew Collins
Marc Riley Session (Hatch, 2018)
Live In Los Angeles  (Scopitones 2002)
Live In Belfast  (Scopitones 2003)
Live 2015 (Scopitones 2015)
Get Up And Go (Scopitones 2004) - an 'on the road' documentary
THE WEDDING PRESENT / CINERAMA : LINE-UP HISTORY
The Wedding Present rose from the ashes of The Lost Pandas, a band formed in Leeds in the early 1980s by David Gedge [vocals, guitar] and Jaz Rigby [drums]. Keith Gregory [bass] and, later, Michael Duane [guitar] completed the line-up. The Lost Pandas became The Wedding Present when Rigby and Duane moved to New York and were replaced by Peter Solowka [guitar] and Shaun Charman [drums, backing vocals]. This line-up lasted until after the first album, George Best, although Julian Sowa [drums] stood in for Charman on the A-side of the band’s first single. Charman was replaced by Simon Smith [drums] in 1988. Gedge, Gregory, Solowka and Smith went on to record Bizarro and Seamonsters. Solowka was replaced by Paul Dorrington [guitar] in 1991. Gedge, Gregory, Smith and Dorrington went on to record The Hit Parade. Gregory was replaced by Darren Belk [bass, backing vocals] in 1993. Gedge, Smith, Dorrington and Belk went on to record Watusi. After Dorrington left in 1995, Belk switched to guitar and Jayne Lockey [bass, backing vocals] joined the band. Hugh Kelly Jr. from Beachbuggy [drums], Debby Vander Wall from Butterglory [drums] and Chris Cooper from The Pale Saints [drums] variously appeared live as the band’s second drummer during 1995 and 1996. In 1996, Belk left and was replaced by Simon Cleave [guitar]. Gedge, Smith, Lockey and Cleave went on to record Saturnalia.
In 1997, Gedge put The Wedding Present ‘on hold’ and formed Cinerama with Sally Murrell [keyboards, backing vocals]. The first album, Va Va Voom, was recorded with guest musicians including Emma Pollock [vocals] from The Delgados, Marty Willson-Piper [guitar] from The Church, and Anthony Coote [bass] from Animals That Swim, but for live concerts [from 1998] the Cinerama line-up settled on Gedge, Murrell, Cleave, Philip Robinson [keyboards], Terry de Castro [bass, backing vocals] and Richard Marcangelo [drums]. Bryan McLellan [drums] replaced Marcangelo later in 1998. Robinson and McLellan left in 2000 and Simon Pearson [drums] joined. Gedge, Murrell, Cleave, de Castro and Pearson went on to record Disco Volante. Pearson was replaced later in 2000 by Kari Paavola [drums]. Murrell left the band in 2003, although she had decided to give up playing live by 2002. Gedge, Cleave, de Castro and Paavola went on to record Torino as Cinerama but reverted back to using the name The Wedding Present to record Take Fountain, although Paavola left shortly after the album’s release in 2005.
For the concerts that followed the release of Take Fountain, various drummers were used, including Simon Pearson. Phil Prime, John Maiden from Chungking and Charles Layton were also employed before the band settled on Graeme Ramsay in 2006. Simon Cleave was replaced by Christopher McConville [guitar] earlier in the same year but although Gedge, de Castro, McConville and Ramsay then went on to record El Rey and George Best 30 in 2008, Cleave returned to replace McConville in 2009. Later that year, when Cleave became unable to tour due to illness, Ramsay moved from drums to guitar and Charles Layton once again became the band’s drummer. In 2010, de Castro left and was replaced by Pepe le Moko [bass] from The Evil Son. Gedge, Ramsay, le Moko and Layton went on to record Valentina in 2011, although Ramsay left shortly before the album’s release in 2012 to be replaced by Patrick Alexander [guitar] from The Young Playthings. Pepe le Moko also left at the end of 2012 but was not replaced by Katharine Wallinger [bass, backing vocals] from The Candys until April 2013. Jennifer Schwartz from Me Of A Kind, therefore, stood in on bass for the band's concerts in early 2013. Alexander was also not available for the first part of 2013 and so Geoffrey Maddock from Goldenhorse stood in for him, too. Samuel Beer-Pearce from The Evil Son also stood in for Alexander on the band's 2013 winter tour of Continental Europe.
In 2014 Beer-Pearce became the full time replacement for Alexander. Gedge, Beer-Pearce, Wallinger and Layton went on to record Going, Going... in 2015, although Beer-Pearce and Wallinger left shortly after the album’s release in 2016 to be replaced by Marcus Kain [guitar] from Twenty Two Hundred and Danielle Wadey [bass]. Wadey had played occasional keyboards for The Wedding Present and Cinerama since 2013 and, in 2018, she changed instruments yet again as she moved from bass to guitar to replace Kain who had left the band at the end of 2017. Melanie Howard from Such Small Hands became the Wedding Present bassist in 2018 although, for some periods during that year, Terry de Castro also returned. During one of the periods in which de Castro was present, the band recorded Tommy 30. Like Wadey, Howard had also previously played occasional keyboards for The Wedding Present and Cinerama. Layton and Wadey left at the end of 2019 and were replaced by Jonathan Stewart [guitar] from Sleeper and Christopher Hardwick [drums] from My Life Story. Nicholas Wellauer [drums] from Animal House replaced Hardwick in August 2021.