Love and sex usually stoke the lyrics of David Gedge (vocals, guitar), often written from a seemingly autobiographical perspective and sung in a dejected, conversational manner. A critics' favorite in the U.K., Gedge cemented his cult status in the U.S. by refusing to surrender his artistic convictions for mainstream stardom. Gedge formed the Wedding Present in Leeds, England, in 1985. Fascinated by the intense emotions and symbolism of weddings, Gedge wanted to name his first group the Wedding Present but was afraid it'd draw comparisons to Nick Cave's early band the Birthday Party. Gedge called the group the Lost Pandas instead; when the band began recording its first single, the Birthday Party had already split up, so Gedge returned to the original appellation. Also featuring Peter Salowka (guitar), Keith Gregory (bass), and Shaun Charman, the Wedding Present snatched the Smiths' jangling guitars and sped them up, creating a pop sound that was both brittle and beautiful. The group released their debut album, George Best, in 1987, and the British press touted the band as the Next Big Thing. However, Gedge's dry, dour vocals didn't appeal to radio programmers in the U.S. like fellow eccentric Englishmen such as Morrissey and Robert Smith; consequently, the group was often overlooked in America. Nevertheless, the Wedding Present continously appeared on the U.K. indie charts and "Kennedy" even became a British Top 40 single in the late '80s. In 1997, Gedge placed the Wedding Present on hiatus and then collaborated with Sally Murrell (keyboards, vocals) as Cinerama. Including a revolving roster of guest musicians, Cinerama recorded Va Va Voom in 1998 and Disco Volante in 2000. Although much more subdued than the Wedding Present, Cinerama continued Gedge's explorations of romantic relationships without sacrificing his ideals for commercial acceptance.
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