The Wedding Present - Marc Riley Sessions Volume 1 album review

Messy magic from the Leeds indie founders

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Back in the good old days of Peruvian nose-flute records being played at the wrong speed, Leeds indie legends The Wedding Present were virtually John Peel’s house band, racking up more sessions than Pete Doherty’s rehab history. Now it seems Marc Riley has taken on Peel’s righteous baton of Weddoes worship, getting this raw diamond of a band in for copious studio stints. Three, from 2007, 2008 and 2010, are compiled here on what the title suggests will become a compendium, a welcome modern nod to Peel’s classic Strange Fruit releases.

Radio sessions, having the production value of a bucket of sick, are notoriously unkind to their source material, and certainly some of these eleven tracks – plucked willy-nilly from David Gedge’s formidable thirty-year catalogue in the same way as they put together their tombola-like setlists – lack the punch, passion and (dare we say) polish of their originals. The usually devastating Heather, from 1990’s Albini produced Seamonsters, lacks a vital layer of anguish and desolation, and their casual grunge-up of Theme From Cheers seems as throwaway as a Lib Dem vote. But Gedge’s undeniable songwriting brilliance so firmly underpins ragged pop romances like Mystery Date, Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft, You Jane and The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend that even this randomised rag-bag of wobbly album picks, rarities and token Brassnecks has the air of a thrown-together classic. Peel would be proud.