‘lt‘s so long since we‘ve done any interviews that today has really set us thinking about Popped In, Souled Out.‘ muses Wet Wet Wet‘s drummer. Tom Cunningham. ‘It‘s made me think about how much a compromise it was. and how much input was added by the producer. Even so. we are still very proud of that album. because we were only 22 or 23 at the time and hadn‘t travelled the world or anything. We were just so happy to get an album out.‘
His reflection on the past is prompted by the forthcoming October release of Wet Wet Wet‘s second album. Holding Back The River. in October. Preceded by a single. ‘Sweet Surrender‘(released 18 September) and their headlining performance at what should be Scotland‘s biggest-ever free music event (Glasgow Green. 10 September). the band have reason to be confident about their return to the shelves.
Having gone through several producers in their quest to complete Popped In . . .. the band decided this time to produce the entire album on their own. working at Real World studios. owned by Peter Gabriel. whom singer Marti Pellow was pleased to discover was a Wets fan. As the best tracks on the debut album. ‘Wishing I Was Lucky" and ‘Temptation‘ were self-produced. it
is a move that has taken Wet Wet
HOME ANI IRY
Away from centre-stage since their low-key Memphis Sessions, Wet Wet Wet have a lot to live up to when they release their new single. ‘Sweet Surrender‘. John Williamson spoke to the Wets as they warmed up for their open-air Glasgow Green show on Sunday 10.
Wet a huge step in the right direction. judging by the first three completed songs — ‘Sweet Surrender.‘ ‘Blue for You‘ and ‘Somebody‘s Gotta Hold Back the River.‘
These tracks are top-quality white soul. direct descendents of Dusty Springfield‘s Dusty In Memphis and ABC‘s Lexicon ofLove. walking all over Simply Red‘s recent chart-topping offerings. and taking a step back towards that which made the earliest Wets‘ demos and the Willie Mitchell Memphis recordings so strong — good songs with a truly great voice much in evidence. While these features may have been slightly lost in Michael Baker‘s polished pop production before. the new material hits the target. and certainly represents a gamble on the band‘s behalf. given the youthful nature of their audience last time around.
Tom is modestly confident about the single. ‘lt has a really strong melody and more of a dance heat than ever before‘ he says. ‘We have never really been a dance band. “Sweet Little Mystery“ came quite close. although it was a bit plastic. The new single and album represent us as an older and more mature hand than we were when we recorded last. “Sweet Surrender“ is a stronger and better produced song than anything
people will have heard us do before. but I think they will be more
surprised by the album than the single.
‘Since it is the first single for ages. I am sure the momentum will take it into the Top Thirty at least. but after that it is down to whether the public like the record and go out and buy it. It will be an interesting test of how much PWL have taken over the charts. Although it is a nasty word. I do see them as the competition at the moment . . .‘
Whether Wet Wet Wet have lost some of their younger fans to the likes of Kylie. Jason and Bros during their absence is hard to assess. but it is not something that unduly worries them.
‘We did have a very young audience. at least up until “Angel Eyes“.‘ admits Tom. ‘but I would hope that we have not alienated them. Their taste in music might well have changed along with the development and maturing ofour music.‘
‘Popped In. Sou/ed ()ut did appeal to a very across-the-board audience.‘ adds Marti. a fact made clear by its UK sales ofclose on two million.‘
Unlike the production-line pap of their PWL chart ‘competition‘. the Wets‘ production is both lush and thoughtful. with a massive string arrangement on ‘Blue For You‘ as well as a clarity throughout that gives much more prominence to Marti‘s vocal. Accepting the title of ‘most
technically-minded member of Wet Wet Wet.‘ bass player Graeme Clark. explains the responsibilities involved in selfproduction. ‘It is not 3 just a case of being creative. it also has to do with organisation. A lot of the time is spent on the phone. trying to make sure that you get the people you want together in the studio at the right time. I don't know ifwe will produce the third LP on our own. but production is something that 1 would like to get into in the far-off future. although playing in a band will always be the tnost important thing for me. There is a lot of pressure on you when you produce yourself. but the end result is always worth the brain damage . . .’
Engineered by Steve Jackson. the album has involved the arranging talents ofAnne Dudley (strings. ABC. Art ofNoise. Buster soundtrack) and Richard Niles. while the brass section used on the last world tour has also been used in the studio. To date. eight tracks have been completed. with two more to be added.
‘We had finished eight tracks. and thought about just putting out an eight-track album.‘ says Graeme. ‘but we decided that we would change the approach for the last two. and record two songs that we wrote quite quickly and recently. We are just going to get the whole band into the studio. get the brass section along. and record them with as much of a live feel as possible.‘
Final work on the album will be done after the band have taken time out to rehearse for their first gig since they finished their world tour last year. An ambitious event it is too. with the open-air show at Glasgow Green taking the form of an all—day extravaganza. Other acts playing include The River Detectives. Bliss. and The River (‘ity People. joining the Wets‘ Precious Organisation label tnates Worldwide and Boom. Part of the event is to be covered by Radio One. and inevitably its ultimate success will depend largely on the weather.
‘It‘s a big event and one that I am really looking forward to.‘ says Marti. ‘We thought it would be a
good idea to do a free gig in our
hometown. so we got our management to approach the council with some ideas. We originally thought about closing off George
Square. but they weren‘t into that. so
they suggested we use Glasgow
Green. We got some money from the
council. but the majority ofthe
money to put on the gig is coming from us.‘
Having been out of the media spotlight for some time. Wet Wet
Wet are back in convincing fashion.
and the gig will present the first
chance for the new songs to be aired to an audience. and a potentially
huge one at that.
Wet Wet Wet — back. and hopefully not forgotten.
Wet Wet Wet. The River Detectives. Bliss. Th e River City People.
World wide. Boom and more will be playing free on Glasgow Green on Sunday I 0. starting at noon.
4 The List 1— 14 September 1989