The Upshot: Nevermind the reissues, here’s the Gedge: a classic album gets revisited for the newly awakened vinyl generation.
BY FRED MILLS
Thirty years on, it’s hard to mount even a tepid argument against the out-of-the-gate brilliance of the Wedding Present’s 1987 debut. It’s certainly a product of its times, what with the omnipresent, uber-c86 guitar strum arrangements; bandleader David Gedge’s deep, resonant, and deeply emotive Morrissey-meets-Ian-Curtis vocals; and a general proto-indie rock, post-post-punk vibe that would, in a few years, grip the Brit-pop pop’d British imagination as lesser artists such as Blur, Suede, and Pulp stormed the charts.
The 12-songer has been reissued in numerous formats over the years, notably a 1997 CD via Cooking Vinyl that added a whopping 11 tracks. Archival specialist Edsel Records also weighed in with a sprawling 3-CD, 1-DVD box featuring those bonus cuts plus a slew of 1987-88 live material. But Athens, Georgia, label Happy Happy Birthday To Me has come up with an artifact that is pure catnip for the WP collectors – not to mention just plain vinyl aficionados. George Best 2017 arrives as a deluxe red wax edition housed in a two color screen printed sleeve whose artwork recaptures the titular red-jerseyed football player minus the field/bleachers background, lending the LP a kind of Warholian pop art sensibility. Which is appropriate, eh? “Pop” art was never sweeter. (Download card is included, and if ordering direct from the label, the deluxe edition snags you a special tote bag and badge. When those are gone there is also a black vinyl version.)
The Wedding Present would go on to subsequent heights, of course; 1991’s Sea Monsters held its own during the ascent of the aforementioned Britpop bands, and 1996’s Saturnalia remains an enduring, if wholly underrated, gem. But George Best wins the proverbial “quintessential” badge for Gedge because, as an opening statement and salvo, it’s up there with pretty much any long-playing debut you’d care to list. Hats off to HHBTM for reminding us of this. Now, let those listicles begin…
DOWNLOAD: “It’s What You Want That Matters,” “Everything Thinks He Looks Daft,” “Getting Nowhere Fast”