Sunday, October 11, 2009

dalliance: The Wedding Present vs. Steve Albini

Sometimes you own a record, you even like it, you listen to it off and on for almost 20 years, and then suddenly it clicks: The record you've liked for so long, is actually a masterpiece. Bits and bobs that you'd just hummed along to as the notes flew past, suddenly found their place in the collage of noise. And you wished the music never ended.

The Wedding Present record Seamonsters, from 1991, is that record for me. I've owned it since it was released in 1991, on import since at the time it had no US release. I liked it for two reasons: 1) singer David Gedge, while a terrific songwriter, can't sing his way out of a paper bag - just like yours truly; and 2) it was recorded by Steve Albini. But for almost 20 years it stayed just that - a record I was happy to own, but didn't get more than the odd listen over the years. Then one day "Suck" came on the ol' iPod and suddenly I was transfixed. It just was "one of those moments", I can't really explain it. The same with "Carolyn" with its oddly-Mancunian groove, the same with "Dalliance".

The rest of the record suddenly became the same way for me. Not a duff track in the bunch, I even loved the B-sides tacked on by US label First Warning to differentiate the record from the import version that had been in the shops for some time prior to the eventual domestic release.

I think Steve Albini has that magic "something" when it comes to engineering records. Nearly every record he engineers has that same "in your face" feeling, you often feel as if you're RIGHT THERE between the Marshall stacks or Hiwatt cabinets. The drums in particular sound spectacular on just about every Albini recording - I would kill to hear the drums soloed at the console one day.

So I went back and eventually tracked down every song the Weddoes recorded with Albini - and here they are, in their entirety. Starting in 1990 with the re-recorded "Brassneck" (originally recorded and released on the 1989 LP Bizarro) backed with three other tracks (including a song written by then-unknowns Pavement "Box Elder", a track discovered by Weddoes bassist Keith Gregory when visiting New York City in 1989, before virtually anyone had heard of Pavement), Albini went on to engineer the vast majority of Wedding Present sessions up to and including their third LP Seamonsters, released in 1991.

So first we have the "Brassneck" EP with its associated B-sides. Then, we get the "3 Songs" EP which introduced the classic "Corduroy" to the world - a re-recorded version would feature later on the LP. Then, we get the B-sides to "Dalliance" (the lead single off their forthcoming LP), and then we get the Seamonsters album proper. Then we have the "Lovenest" single in its entirety, and then lastly two more covers also recorded by Albini.

This collection of material is stunning in its breadth and power. The Weddoes, in your humble blogger's opinion, never bettered this material featured here - I'm even including their most recent record that has the Weddoes name on it, and was recorded by Albini, but doesn't rate at all.

So enjoy!

The (classic) Steve Albini Recordings 1990-1991

01 Brassneck
02 Don't Talk, Just Kiss
03 Gone
04 Box Elder
05 Corduroy (single version)
06 Crawl
07 Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
08 She's My Best Friend
09 Niagara
10 Dalliance
11 Dare
12 Suck
13 Blonde
14 Rotterdam
15 Lovenest
16 Corduroy
17 Carolyn
18 Heather
19 Octopussy
20 Lovenest (edit)
21 Mothers
22 Dan Dare
23 Fleshworld
24 Don't Dictate
25 Crushed


1-4 "Brassneck" EP, 1990

5-7 "3 Songs" EP, 1990

8-9 "Dalliance" CD single, 1991

10-19 Seamonsters LP, 1991

20-23 "Lovenest" CD single, 1991

24-25 Singles 1989-1991 2xCD, 1999

EDIT: Links removed... why? Because I was honored with my first DMCA notice! Way to go, TPoIT! Only took three years...

Thanks due to Tock and Jan...........


  1. Very cool! I think I've got all of this material, but it'll be interesting to listen to it in this chronological sequence. Thanks!

  2. The best album ever recorded.

    Pedants note:
    The cover of Velvet Underground's 'She's My Best Friend' (the only weak song here) was recorded by Neil Ferguson, not Albini.

  3. My introduction to The Weddoes was hearing Give My Love To Kevin on college radio. I really loved the Steve Albini period, and played Brassneck on my first show when I launched a podcast.

    I used to own the Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela you have it?

  4. College radio had been playing "Nobody's Twisting Your Arm" for a couple of weeks already before I was converted. At first I thought the "singer" was a fat & bald guy. However once I got into them I went really deep. I still love the 12" of Anyone Can Make A Mistake with the full lyrics to the song etched in the runout groove!!
    I lost interest in them during the 7" singles year... but before that there's hardly a dud in their output. I was also very fond of the Ukrainian sessions. I still have the original 10", the 2000 CD rerelease and the BBC Sessions box (not to mention the Ukrainians' CD-EP of Smiths covers!).

  5. I had the complete singles club; the design was spectacular. *sigh*

    That's one of those things I wish now I hadn't sold off.

  6. Seamonsters is the great neglected 'break up' album. Every song seeths with loathing and then the final track strumms away to a sort of calm otherplace. Genius.

    Alot of this material makes up the '09 tour and its just as good as ever.

    Sadly the recent album which reunited Albini and Gedge was.. well... hummm... alright.

  7. Glad to hear someone else loves this album as much as I do. IIRC, it came out the same month as Nevermind, and I remain outraged at the injustice of Nevermind (the most overrated album of all time IMO) going global, and Seamonsters remaining in obscurity. Seamonsters is WAY better.

  8. I just saw the Wedding Present live, and I attribute it mostly to this post. I wish all the Brooklyn kids my age would listen to this and learn the power of Albini and what rocking really means, but til then I have to give me my rawk fix. THANKS!!!

  9. Courtney, that show tonight was unbelievable. Of course, it helps that it was all of Bizarro and then some. So happy they played "Corduroy."

  10. courtney: glad I could be of service!

    Albini records what's given to him - it's the bands that do the rawking, Albini just puts it in the jar, so to speak.

    Now if only the traveling WP show will make it to my neck of the woods, and even more were it to perform the entire contents of this post.

    I can dream........

  11. When Seamonsters finally came out in the US, Bob Rising (then ex-Poster Children, played drums on the Albini-recorded Daisychain Reaction) gave me the promo copy from Record Service in Champaign. It was almost as good as getting a gift from Albini himself....