heard on the wire

Try shaking a box in front of the Queen


Japanese punk pop doesn’t come any better than the pandemonium unleashed by Toquiwa, a female foursome that had already released a series of albums in Japan when indie “legend” David Gedge saw them in Tokyo.

And so the man behind and indeed in front of the Wedding Present and Cinerama did, giving them a support slot on the Wedding Present’s last tour and signing them to his Scopitones label, whereupon they released their self-titled UK debut.

Toquiwa :: Tokyo Merry-Go-Round

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2012 also saw the release of the Wedding Present’s eighth studio LP, Valentina, which has, to date, been criminally neglected by this blog.

The band first started recording in the mid-80s and released half a dozen LPs of generally descending appeal before the turn of the century, by which time Gedge had moved on to Cinerama, whose 2003 opus, Torino, is rightly considered to be the all-time second best LP of all-time.

But that proved to be the final Cinerama long player. A split with girlfriend and band member Sally Murrell led Gedge to reconstitute the Wedding Present, with songs from the final Cinerama Peel Session providing the backbone to what many, the smithsocks included, consider to be the reformed band’s finest hour (or so).

The act proved hard to follow. 2008’s El Rey was largely unremarkable, though the recording sessions produced a brilliant version of Take That’s Back For Good, so relatively little was expected of its successor. But where El Rey seemed lacklustre, Valentina was packed full of the razor sharp tunes and bittersweet tunes that characterise the very best Gedge work. It may have been the best LP of the year.

The Wedding Present :: Back a Bit… Stop

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Like fellow genius Nick Cave, Gedge lives in Brighton, the seaside town that also tolerates legendary superstar DJ Quentin “Norman” Cook. Before he took to sticking together bits of other people’s records to make a ridiculous fortune, Quentin played bass in a proper rock ’n’ roll band that had a very un-rock ’n’ roll Christmas number one in 1986 with an a capella cover of the Isley Brothers’ Caravan of Love.

But the band’s finest moment had come two year’s previously on their debut single, the acerbic Flag Day. This is the version recorded for the single before it received a rather unsatisfactory piano treatment for the subsequent LP, London 0 Hull 4.

The Housemartins :: Flag Day

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That’s probably the best song about charity ever written. And as we all know, charity begins on television.

Chumbawamba :: How to Get Your Band on Television

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Photo: Pier by me; some rights reserved

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