Various Artists – Welcome to the Wetherbeat Scene, 1988-1991 (555 Recordings)

SM | I’m convalescing poolside in Lake Havasu, Arizona thinking about the injustice I gave Glen Campbell at BJ’s Cabana Bar last night and also how fecund (I’m always dwelling on the fecundity of things) this one band scene was in a parish of Leeds back in the late 80s-early 90s. The two things are totally unrelated, of course, but its my dehydrated mind and I need to abide its dastardly impulses…

With uniform bleakness I recall the night before: the trays of pink shit in plastic shots. The unfavorable reception I received karaoking Glen’s Country Boy. The fusillade of coughs I sustained throughout the performance were no percussive device: I simply have been battling a cold.

Perhaps the brilliant 16 year-olds on Welcome to Wetherbeat had colds too. But at least their nasal deliveries come off in all the ways that makes Ray Davies’ quaint pop miniatures so wonderfully poignant. This comp would sit happily on your shelf next to The Kinks or one of those timeless Flying Nun comps. It’s a heckuva set, ‘pooling’ together thirty-five examples of young person yearning grope rock that covers the gamut of teenage kicks that kick you up and down and from side to side.

Stewart Anderson plays on nearly all — he’s the lynchpin. Stew and his teenage pals, Hood, Baby Doll Lounge, The Paisley Springtime, et al., with the teenage kicks and their crystal vision. Precociously talented and like the shots of gelatin at that damn cabana bar, it all molds together quite well, a bit wobbly, but expertly solid, yet without alcohol, somewhat pure, and everyone feels less bad the next day. Guitars are caressed like girls because the guitar players don’t have time to touch girls, they are too busy fingering their guitars. Guitar playing of the bra-less artful fumbling variety, achieving a depth of feeling that, to these ears, is just like heaven and proof that getting guitar lessons from Steve Vai is pointless and instead those drips should either buy this comp or do themselves in. Plus suave Postcard basslines that belie the awkwardness of the young people playing them.

The production gives the lowdown on lo-fi, so it’s not Fleetwood Mac, but people are foolish to think that life remotely sounds like them anyway. The Wetherbeats sit somewhere between the Mac and me doing Glen karaoke. That’s the shittest testimonial ever, but believe you me, this is the right stuff with plenty of long wet and sparkly cinnamon kisses of treble amidst spikes of distort.

Stewart ranches the Arizona high country these days and me and him are neighbors. He’s played in some thirty odds bands. Given time, he’d play in thirty more. We’re perty close. I could upload a photo of my love interest petting his horse. I met him in Melbourne in 2001 when he was on his honeymoon (incidentally I was getting a divorce). More recently, I had the pleasure of eating one or two of his hogs and at least twice as many of his steaks.

Here he was sixteen and so were his friends and they held David Gedge in high esteem (see track 12, ‘I saw David Gedge in Jumbo Records’). I was lucky to catch the Wedding Present earlier this year in Texas and my God, so good. Couple next to me asked if it was Robbie Williams. That has about as much bearing on this review as Glen Campbell. I suspect it is time to get back in the pool. Best turn of WP speed-jangle into elegant melody: Boyracer’s ‘My Favourite Pastime’, though I have yet to work out what the pastime is. Buy the compilation and find out!

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One Response to Various Artists – Welcome to the Wetherbeat Scene, 1988-1991 (555 Recordings)

  1. Moritz, thanks for returning your genius to these pages, such a great review… So good to have someone do Leeds and its ‘environs’ from Arizona when I’m just down the road from Leeds and said environs… they would have colds, it was blighted Wetherby, and I remember going to Jumbo Records, I never saw Gedge, although I saw the Weddoes a few times… ah! My youth. All misspent, all of it, there and in Piccadilly, Manchester…

    God bless Hood and all who sail in her, the Treacherous Mytholm Steeps are in walking distance and my shoes are on…

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