Rock Star Trek

Enterprising ironists David Gedge and Sally Murrell of Cinerama

Enterprising ironists David Gedge and Sally Murrell of Cinerama

CAPTAIN KIRK HAD sex only twice within three seasons of Star Trek--which, by my count, is only once more than Leonard Nimoy. Yet he's still hailed as an outerspace mack daddy by millions of Voyager geeks like Cinerama frontman and ex-Wedding Present singer David Gedge. "Sexy!" mutters the breathless Gedge on the Wedding Present's Peel Session 1983-1991 recording of "Felicity," which he calls "a William Shatner number."

Sexy is less an afterthought to punctuate the song than an ad-hoc mantra that continues to sustain Gedge as rock's consummate hitchhiker, with one hand on the intergalactic Kama Sutra. Gedge has also titled an ode after the actor who launched a thousand Trekkie conventions: "Shatner." Sexy, huh?

Gedge's libido hasn't cooled in the years since his seminal British guitar band the Wedding Present left its lyrical "Favourite Dress" by the side of indie rockers' beds. Yet, after shifting his iconic lens to Cinerama, Gedge began to explore his sexual frustration through references to Fellini and Gainsbourg, purveyors of hazy violin solos and sucked-in cheeks.

"I just started by taking a few months off from the Wedding Present--that was the easy bit," he admits in an e-mail interview. "And then that time became filled by my learning how to use samplers and sequencers, and how to arrange orchestration."

Gedge's flirtations with technology flourished on Cinerama's debut Va Va Voom, which took up the hallmarks of surround sound and Gedge's affinity for classic American imagery. "I like the fact that pop culture isn't sneered at [in the United States] the way it is in Europe," he explains. "I'm not interested in opera and ballet...or books, particularly. But I'm fascinated by pop music, TV, film, and comics." And apparently, he's most fascinated by Star Trek.

Based upon what Gedge describes as "film music, love songs, and generally being nosy about what people get up to in relationships," Cinerama's music and voyeuristic tendencies have kept the group busier than a Bollywood soundstage. The band has released three albums in the past year: the Steve Albini-produced Disco Volante, the singles collection This Is Cinerama, and most recently a John Peel Sessions [live] LP highlighting Gedge's numerous dalliances with the famous BBC program.

Despite the initial bombast of keyboard, bass, flute, and string section on John Peel Sessions [live], Gedge's what-me-worry wordplay and subtle witticisms still demand the most attention. His Leeds-bred baritone has been buffered to a near whisper as he croons, "I can't take my eyes off you tonight/And if you asked me to make love to you I might," ("You Turn Me On"). Such leering poetics lay the foundation for the album, leading toward Gedge's teasing rendition of the Turtles' classic "Elenore," before he closes with the tormented temptations of "Hard, Fast, and Beautiful," which sounds as if it had been written by the romantic novelist Erich Segal.

At the same time, the lustful tunes on Peel Sessions might be the best showcase yet for the talents of Gedge's partner and muse, keyboard player Sally Murrell. Murrell is a statuesque blonde whose own drafty vocals provide the chokehold of the band's sexual tension. She is (ahem) instrumental on Disco Volante's singles, which are laden with coquettish giggles, bubbling with bashful confessions and come-ons like a lurid flute of Veuve Clicquot. Gedge swoons over her in lyrics from the lustful "You smile and say it's not your fault/Meanwhile the world's come to a halt" ("146 Degrees") to the laughable "You need a paramour/Someone to pluck your eyebrows for" ("Heels").

It's as if Gedge could stay in an adolescent flush forever. "I'd been listening to some early stuff the other day. It sounded a bit teenage-angst-ridden" admits Gedge. "Maybe I've grown into a twentysomething now."

While his music stays youthful, perhaps our brave Captain Gedge has been traveling to the moon, traipsing through outer space, in order to escape the space-time continuum that is currently launching him toward middle age. The thought of Gedge acting as a Shatner for fans of the that's sexy!