Cinerama -‘Valentina.’ (Scopitones)
‘David Gedge’s other band!’ trumpets the sticker on this album. That’s ‘other’ in the sense that since 1985, David Gedge has been the frontman of The Wedding Present. The Wedding Present are the band who, amongst other things made history by scoring 12 Top 30 hits (one a month) with a single back in 1992. David Gedge is the man of whom the late, lamented John Peel once said ‘he’s 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!”
Cinerama came into being in 1997 when the Weddoes went on hiatus, and Gedge collaborated with his then girlfriend Sally Murrell on a different sort of sound. Whilst the heartfelt love-songs continued, they owed far more to 1960s orchestral pop with flavours of soundtracks. By 2004, while Gedge was working on what became Take Fountain, he decided that the album sounded more like a Wedding Present album, the album was issued under that name. It has long been a stated ambition of Gedge’s to record and release a Wedding Present album in the style of Cinerama. So the album he has done it with is the 2012 album Valentina.
Still with me? Good. Because while this project has obviously taken a while to come to fruition, it demonstrates that David Gedge doesn’t always need a wall of raging guitars to show off his songwriting skills. Whilst the Cinerama version follows the same tracklisting and order of the original Wedding Present one, we now have a vastly different take on the songs, demonstrating sympathetic arrangements and an intelligence necessary to carry the project through (which is lesser hands than David Gedge might well have fallen flat on its face).
It might be questioned whether it’s necessary to be familiar with the original version of the album in order to enjoy it. On it’s own, it stands up fairly well, but it gives more sense to the concept behind the project if you’re aware of both albums. Valentina had never been one of my favourite Weddoes albums but I found that going back and listening to both versions side by side gave more of an insight into what had been done.
Some tracks, such as ‘You Jane’, definitely are as good as the Wedding Present version, and I think ‘Mystery Date’ in this version is even more heartfelt and moving. What does perhaps hold the album back a bit is that it can be a bit much to take in one listening; having listened to the entire album several times finding that I needed to break it up a bit.
On balance, though, it’s good to see that David Gedge has revisited his back catalogue in a different way, rather than simply recording an acoustic version or commissioning dance remixes, as might have been done by other (lesser!) acts in times gone by. It’s perhaps not the most obvious place to start for a newcomer to the work of David Gedge, but for those who are fans or want to investigate further, it’s an worthwhile addition to the catalogue.
Valentinais out now on Scopitones.