If I Could Only Take One

My desert island song by Wet Wet Wet

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time again to pick a song to take on an imaginary trip to a desert island. If you’re a frequent flyer on this blog, chances are you’ve seen previous installments of this recurring feature. For first-time travelers, the idea is to pick one tune only, not an album, I would take to an island in the sun. There are a few additional rules to guide my selections.

The song must be by an artist or band I’ve only rarely covered or not written about at all. Selections are in alphabetical order, meaning the band’s or artist’s name (last name) must start with a specific letter. This week, I’m up to “w.”

Options that came to mind include The Wallflowers, The Walker Brothers, The Waterboys, Weather Report, The White Stripes, The Who, Steve Winwood, Stevie Wonder and World Party, among others. And my pick is Wet Wet Wet and the Scottish soft rock band’s cover of Love Is All Around.

Love Is All Around was written by Reg Presley, lead vocalist of The Troggs. It also was the British garage rock band, who first released the song as a single in October 1967, giving them a no. 5 hit on the British charts. Fast-forward 27 years to May 1994, when Wet Wet Wet released their rendition of the song and took it to no. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, a position it held for 15 consecutive weeks. The tune was part of the soundtrack of the popular 1994 British romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Wet Wet Wet were formed in 1982 as Vortex Motion at a local high school in Clydebank, Scotland. The original line-up of the group, which initially mostly played covers of The Clash and Magazine, featured Mark McLachlan (vocals), Lindsey McCauley (guitar), Neil Mitchell (keyboards), Graeme Clark (bass) and Tommy Cunningham (drums). By the time Graeme Duffin replaced McCauley as guitarist in 1983, the band had already changed their name to Wet Wet Wet.

In March 1987, their debut single Wishing I Was Lucky came out, reaching an impressive no. 6 on the British Singles Chart. The tune was also included on Wet Wet Wet’s debut album Popped In Souled Out released in September of the same year. Three additional studio albums followed before the group started to unravel in 1997.

Wet Wet Wet reformed in 2004 and recorded Timeless, their sixth studio album that appeared in November 2007. Fourteen years later, in November 2021, the group’s seventh and most recent album The Journey was released. Earlier this year, Cunningham and keyboarder Niel Mitchell departed, leaving the band with Clark and lead vocalist Kevin Simm as their only current members.

Following is some additional background on Love Is All Around from Songfacts:

Troggs lead singer Reg Presley wrote this in about 10 minutes. He was inspired by the Joy Strings Salvation Army band he’d seen on TV. The song is a gentle folk ballad and a far cry from The Troggs previous hit “Wild Thing.”…

…The UK record for longest stay at #1 is held by Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You).” Wet Wet Wet’s record company tried to tie this record by announcing they were pulling the single after 16 weeks, hoping people would rush out to buy it. The plan failed and Whigfield knocked them out of #1 with “Saturday Night.” Wet Wet Wet claimed they asked their record company to pull the song because they were sick of it. Their version does hold the record for most weeks at #1 for a UK based act. In the US it reached #41.

When this was revived by Wet Wet Wet, Reg Presley got massive royalties as the songwriter. He denoted the proceeds to crop circle research.

R.E.M. did a cover of this as well, which they played on an episode of MTV Unplugged. The video for this can be found on their VHS/DVD This Film Is On, featuring all the videos for the songs off their 1991 album Out Of Time.

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts; YouTube

12 thoughts on “If I Could Only Take One”

  1. decent song, but wouldn’t be my pick…but that’s what’s great about music, different tastes! I liked the REM version and had it on some CD single but even with them it seemed a tiny bit redundant , seeing as how it sounded so close to the other takes on it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I love XTC – they’re a really good Beatles-influenced band. They started as new wave (‘Making Plans for Nigel’ is a very good early track) and went more into studio mode after frontman Andy Partridge got stage fright. ‘Mayor of Simpleton’ and ‘Earn Enough For Us’ might be worth trying from this later era.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. To tell the truth I never heard anything by Wet Wet Wet before even though I knew they had some other hit, and as much as I love Love is All Around I never heard their version before, and I heard that it was really bad but it’s such a great song that it’s always good to hear it anyway. The Troggs one is one of the best records ever so it’s probably not fair to compare the two. And this version starts out okay cuz it just kind of copies the original, but then it goes into all that ’90s production when it really shouldn’t have. It just loses all the charm that the original arrangement had. But he doesn’t sing it badly or anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The only thing I can think of for X besides XTC is the ’80s punk band X. And also Generation X, although that doesn’t really start with an X, does it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s also X-Ray Spex another punk band from the seventies or eighties. But they really sucked .

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  4. Wet Wet Wet do a pretty decent cover that has a lovelier vibe than the original, though I think I prefer the Troggs’ version, probably because I remember it from my youth. Hard to believe Wet Wet Wet’s version spent 15 weeks at #1 in the UK, while peaking at only #41 in the U.S. It’s interesting how some songs resonate so differently in the two countries.

    Liked by 1 person

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