Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Top 102 Albums. No 55. George Best.

Top 102 Albums. No 55. 
George Best - The Wedding Present.

"I thought we said all the things we had to say"

Today's choice is inspired by the choice of a later Wedding Present album over at Cathedrals of Sound. I did a little listening and then listened to the albums that followed this, Bizarro and Seamonsters, both of which have their supporters in the title race for best Wedding Present album. Maturity, a less 'tinny' sound, more variety....
However, there's probably no chance now that any of their other albums will manage to cuckoo this one from its comfortable spot in the bedsit nest lined with strands of my twenty year old self. I can feel the springs poking through the single mattress I shared with myself and my misery as I listen. What other album is going to offer that sensorama.

When I listen to the follow up albums I'm always aware of a sort of claustrophobia, an effort to prove himself, as if Gedge was doing his response to the Divine song "You think I'm a boy but I'm really a man." Here, as the guitars kick up a storm in a teacup and the teaspoons rattle on the saucers Gedge's love trials are outlined with an exuberance and humour which captures something of the plasticity of youth. Even though Gedge was twenty seven when this came out, an age at which 'proper' rock stars are burnt out. This helps explain the seemingly inexhaustible litany of breakup stories.

They say you should never judge a book by the cover but hell, I think the cover was at least half of the reason I bought this album. The iconic shot of George Best gave the album immediate status and became a much parodied artefact. It also gives us access to an immediate meta-narrative of promise and decline. I've always felt that the real marker of the death of the wave of sixties optimism so often attributed to the killing at Altamont is more vividly represented by Best throwing his talent to the wind.

It's just like the use of another icon, William Shatner, in Gedge's lyric about domestic abuse. There's something really affecting here in the use of typical boy nerd icon Shatner in a plea to a woman to leave  a man who's abusing her. It feels like the whole song is taking place in the singers head, that he lacks the ability to really reach across to the woman addressed in the song - sister? ex-girlfriend?
"You can't say, it doesn't really matter
This isn't T.V., he isn't William Shatner"

Indeed there is a sense that the whole album is like this, breakups remembered in a bedsit and all the things he wishes he'd said. It's full of pain and longing shot through with wit and just enough acid to give you heartburn.


  1. New to me Seamus. This will fill my next sleepless night.
    Sad about Georgie; these days every flick and step over are captured in digital clarity to attest to the 'genius' of (often) average talents. I shudder to think what percentage of Best's best moments have been caught on tape. The stories that people still tell about his mercurial talents are proof of the affection that his skills and charisma evoked. I love the 'where did it all go wrong' story; hope it's true.
    He was apparently also hard as nails; second only to Frank Stapleton...
    He'd put the Drogbas of this world to shame,,,

    1. I thought you'd be recounting a tale of the shenanigans you got up to with Georgie and Gedge. Coming from where George came from I'd say being hard wasn't a choice. What a player. My personal favourite is the time he nicked the ball from Gordon Banks when playing for Northern Ireland against England. It was wrongly disallowed, which seems somehow apt. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D8IW_3_6D8

  2. The howl of pure frustration on my favourite dress sums up the whole lp for me ! It was so nearly this one and I may have been influenced by the fact that there would be too many first year at poly lps on the list!

    1. As I go through this list I've given up pretending that the age I was when I first heard the record isn't the most important facet. I just don't seem to let albums in as willingly any more. My post 1990 haul will be slim, let alone my post 2000...

  3. I know what you mean although since doing the blog my interest and energy has picked up again . Part of the reason I started it was I realised that most of he cds I bought were by x former lead singer of y , or the comeback cd of z. Looking through my list this has meant a bit of a purple patch over the last 3/4 years

    1. I hope I can re-engage myself, although most of my energy in the past few years has gone into reading rather than listening. I'm enjoying the process of doing this list hwich is leading me to listen to more music than I have been, even if it is mostly flicking through my back pages.

  4. Interesting stuff; how we reengage with our former loves.
    Was Stephanie Minto (at 16) really that gorgeous or was it lack of experience (or lack of competition) that gave her a lofty status?
    Sorry to say that many other of my musical 'first loves' haven't aged well...

  5. this is there best album by far I went see them a couple of times round this album ,I found there later stuff a bit polished this was Gedge at his best lyrics on heartbreak ,all the best stu