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Love Is All Around – Wet Wet Wet

‘I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes…’

LoveLove Is All Around – Wet Wet Wet

Precious JWLCD 23 (UK) / London 856194 (USA)
Released 9th May 1994
Writer Reg Presley
Producers Wet Wet Wet & Graeme Duffin
UK #1 4/6/94 15 weeks USA #45 8/94

From the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral

With its’ 15 weeks at the top of the UK charts and sales of 1,783,827 copies, this could have perhaps beaten Bryan Adams’ 16 week record set in 1992 with ‘Everything I Do I Do It For You’ but, in a somewhat unusual move, the record was withdrawn from the market during its’ final week at Number 1, apparently at the behest of Wet Wet Wet vocalist Marti Pellow. The record had been at the top for so long that some UK radio stations had banned it and Pellow had apparently heard some negative comments. However, there were still plenty of copies in circulation and it appears the record became available again since it remained in the charts for a total of 37 weeks. (Claims in some publications that the record was deleted because Polygram wanted to promote the band’s next single ‘Julia Says’ are nonsense since that track was not released until 1995)

Originally written by Reg Presley and a US/UK Top 10 hit for his group The Troggs in 1967, ‘Love Is All Around’ was an unusual departure for the band better known for their three-chord garage-rock tunes whose previous Presley composed titles included the vaguely risqué ‘I Can’t Control Myself’, ‘Any Way That You Want Me’ and ‘Give It To Me’. Since it was composed in 1967 it was doubtless a conscious effort to jump on board the hippy ‘peace, love and good-vibes’ bandwagon, though Presley says he was inspired to write the song after seeing the Salvation Army band The Joy Strings on television one Sunday, and he claims to have knocked it off in 20 minutes. Wet Wet Wet were a quartet of Glaswegian school friends who first appeared on the charts in 1987 with a trio of Top 5 hits in the blue-eyed soul vein, ‘Wishing I Was Lucky’, ‘Sweet Little Mystery’ and ‘Angel Eyes’. Their first Number 1 was a 1988 charity cover of The Beatles’ ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, the second of three times that song has topped the UK charts. Following further hits there was a second Number 1 in January 1992 with the self-penned ‘Goodnight Girl’. ‘Love Is All Around’ became the group’s third and final Number 1, its’ popularity greatly helped by its’ appearance in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral and the fact that the movie’s star, Hugh Grant, featured in the accompanying video. Released as a one-off single, the track appeared the following year on the band’s next album, Picture This, helping it become their third UK chart-topping collection. (In a Christmas version, the song later became the main focus of another British movie, Love Actually, where it was sung by the main character ‘Billy Mack’ alias Bill Nighy, a UK Top 30 hit in December 2003)

The band split up in the late 1990s after a disagreement over the distribution of record royalties and following numerous tabloid revelations regarding Pellow’s drug problems. He followed a relatively unsuccessful solo career which included a re-hash of the Wet’s hits on Marti Pellow Sings The Hits Of Wet Wet Wet, which must have gone down a bundle with his former bandmates! The inevitable Wet Wet Wet comeback came in 2004 with the release of a Greatest Hits album and a minor new hit ‘All I Want’ (UK #14) before a new album, Timeless, appeared in late 2007, delivering the Top 10 hit ‘Weightless’. (In this author’s humble opinion, ‘Worthless’ might have been a more appropriate title for this overproduced soup which had echoes of Foreigner’s ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’ – and the record-buying public obviously agreed. Having hit the Top 10 in its’ first week it subsequently dropped to Number 96, the biggest drop ever on the UK charts)

Reg Presley and his bank manager must have been over the moon when ‘Love Is all Around’ began raking in the royalties for a second time, particularly since he didn’t compose the song the band are best known for, ‘Wild Thing’. As well as its’ huge success in England, ‘Love Is All Around’ was Number 1 in Sweden, Norway, Holland, Australia and New Zealand and Number 2 in France and Germany. It was also Number 2 in Ireland and would have made the top had it not been for Bill Whelan’s ‘Riverdance’ which hogged the Irish top-spot for an impressive 18 weeks. The royalty cheques continued to fall through Reg Presley’s letter box. Aside from several million record sales back in 1994, the record is still a much played oldie on radio stations throughout the world. While ‘Love Is All Around’ was at Number 1, Presley announced that he would be spending a good deal of the cash on his favourite pastime, researching crop circles. Let’s hope he wasn’t making them as well! The Troggs, minus two original members, but still led by the 68-year-old Reg Presley, continued to tour the UK oldies circuit in 2009 though Presley retired in early 2012 and sadly died in February 2013.

Copyright © 2009/2013 SongStories/Tony Burton
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