With the impact of Covid-19 on the music industry showing no signs of abating, musicians and music fans around the globe are being forced to get creative, so it comes as no surprise that indie legends The Wedding Present – led by the unparalleled David Gedge – have turned their hands to facilitating a more virtual existence for our listening pleasure. Released 26th February 2021 via Scopitones, Locked Down And Stripped Back includes twelve home recordings of Wedding Present favourites along with two previously unreleased songs: “You’re Just A Habit That I’m Trying To Break” and “We Should Be Together”. The latter was originally recorded – but never released – by Britpop favourites, Sleeper. With each band member recording and filming their parts at home due to lockdown restrictions, the recording process was far from easy, but the end result is, as always, typically satisfying.
From the swagger of “A Million Miles’” (George Best, 1987) and “California” (Hit Parade, 1992), to the joyous, previously unreleased “We Should Be Together” – featuring a special guest appearance from Sleeper singer Louise Wener – Locked Down And Stripped Back is an unexpected treat. Elsewhere, a re-working of “You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends” – originally released as a single in 1986 – and a truly epic version of “Crawl” (3 Songs EP, 1990), despite their ‘stripped back’ delivery, still pack a proverbial punch, while “You’re Just A Habit That I’m Trying to Break” – a new song co-written with new guitarist Jon Stewart – is classic Wedding Present. Furthermore, bassist Melanie Howard takes over vocal duties on the sumptuous “Sports Car” (Mini, 1995), while none of Gedge’s famous sardonic wit is lost on the majestic ‘My Favourite Dress’ (George Best, 1987).
“As the summer of 2020 wore on it became increasingly obvious that ‘At The Edge of The Sea’ – my annual festival in Brighton – was sadly going the way of other live music events. Following its cancellation, I decided to replace it with an ‘online’ version, presented live from my own living room and featuring home-recorded videos from many of the artists that had appeared at the festival over the years. For The Wedding Present’s contribution, we picked twelve tracks to re-work in a ‘semi-acoustic’ style, and it was fascinating to see how stripped-back arrangements brought out different aspects of the songs. The Seamonsters track ‘Blonde’ was a prime example of this, with a ‘just-two-guitars’ approach resulting in a naïve and moving interpretation,” says Gedge.
Their new single, the previously unreleased “We Should Be Together” which features Sleeper’s Louise Wener on vocals, was released on the 15th January. “‘We Should Be Together’ is an old song by the band Sleeper that has never been released. When Sleeper guitarist Jon Stewart joined The Wedding Present in 2019 he played me the track and I thought immediately that it was too good not to be used in some way. So we decided to cover it for our Locked Down And Stripped Back semi-acoustic album. The icing on the cake came when Louise Wener herself agreed to sing on this new Wedding Present ‘duet’ version of her old song!” says David.