Wednesday, August 8th, 2007
This Is Cinerama
When David Lewis Gedge announced in Fall of 2004 that he was resurrecting The Wedding Present moniker, there was a great outcry of happiness from the huddled masses. It made good press, after all, what with one of the more beloved heroes of 80s British indie rock returning to the scene (and this was before the current onslaught of reunion fever). But it wasn’t as though Gedge had pulled a Kevin Shields and gone into hiding – he’d been happily turning out the same brand of wrecked romantic guitar pop that he made the Wedding Present name with under another identity for the past eight odd years. Cinerama.
Founded in 1998 with girlfriend Sally Murrell, Cinerama was intended to be a stylistic departure from the frantic guitar rock that the Wedding Present was identified with, an homage to the film soundtrackish Euro-pop implied by their name (never mind that the last few Wedding Present records were considerably smoother than their stereotyped sound). And the debut release Va Va Voom did this well – the arrangements were lusher and more orchestral and could well have provided the score for technicolor afternoons at the cinema… providing the films were about the lovelorn and scorned. Because despite the new musical clothes, Gedge’s pen remained the same. Consider the opening lyrics from “Maniac” – ” And when i made that stupid oath/About how i was going to/Pay for someone to kill you both…” Cheery.
But even as early as the second album, Disco Volante, cracks in the new aesthetic began to show and the sweeping string arrangements stood alongside churning electric guitars taken straight out of Seamonsters (thanks in no small part to production help from Steve Albini). Wedding Present songs also began creeping into the live sets and any pretense that the two bands were distinct entities began to melt away. By 2002, Gedge was back into full-on rock mode and Torino ended up one of my favourite releases of the year.
So back to 2004 and the announcement that the next album, Take Fountain, would be released by the Wedding Present. Though differences in the bands was mostly academic by this point, there was a further symbolic reason for the identity shift – Gedge and Murrell had split the year before and that break-up weighed heavily on the new material. Releasing it as the project the two had started together would have been more than a bit uncomfortable and anyways, The Wedding Present was much more marketable, as the heavy touring across Europe and North America to support confirmed.
Since then, The Wedding Present has been celebrating accomplishments past with the George Best 20th anniversary tour, retracing the steps of the tour to promote their debut two decades ago and releasing the expansive, six-disc The Complete Peel Sessions. But the Cinerama years aren’t being ignored – long a favourite of the late, legendary DJ John Peel, Gedge and co continued to visit the BBC studios and record sessions in the Cinerama guise. Two volumes of these sessions have already been released and third, The Peel Sessions Season Three: Cinerama Holiday, will be coming out on August 20. All three discs will also be collected in a box set entitled The John Peel Cinerama Sessions, out the same day.
I’m perhaps more partial than most to the Cinerama years, mainly because they were my first introduction to the works of the Gedge – not the Wedding Present – and while it’s great that the Wedding Present vaults are getting the attention they deserve, I was a little afraid that Cinerama was being disavowed a bit. The first two Cinerama albums both essentially came with two companion albums each – a b-sides compilation and the Peel sessions disc. Let it never be said that fans were left wanting for material. The release of the Torino-era Peel sessions gives me hope that the singles and b-sides from that era will also be collected and released soon. Fingers crossed.
I can’t find any Cinerama MP3s and hardly any videos on YouTube, so I’ll have to make do with some mp3s and clips from Take Fountain, which technically was supposed to be the fourth Cinerama album…
The Futurist has some tracks from a recent WOXY session by Dirty On Purpose available to download. They also mention a new EP will be out this Fall, just in time for their tour with Fujiya & Miyagi, which brings them to Lee’s Palace on October 3.
The Veils are at the El Mocambo September 5.
Newsarama has an interview with the creators of Phonogram, the Britpop-centric comic I mentioned in the first post of the year. It turned out to be quite a good read, with a real fondness for the era but no excessive nostalgia… and anything that slams Kula Shaker is okay in my books. The trade paperback is already out and there are plans for a second series sometime in the future. Noise To Signal has also got an interview with the writer and artist.