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Wonder Stuff - Oh No...It's the Wonder Stuff

  by Paul Waller

published: 8 / 3 / 2013



Wonder Stuff - Oh No...It's the Wonder Stuff
Label: IRL Recordings
Format: CD X2

intro

Superb double CD comeback record from the Wonder Stuff, which consists of an album each of both covers and original material


It has been seven years since the Wonder Stuff released an album of new material and just like waiting for a bus if you hold on long enough two come along at once. The version I have comes with a covers album which originally sprung out as a series of 7” records last year under the title 'From the Midland With Love'. What an incredible comeback it is too. In the intervening years between albums, singer and guitarist Miles Hunt has been busy playing on the Wonder Stuff nostalgia market, all the time penning new material for his solo career and partnership with Erica Nockalls. As the title would suggest the cover versions are taken from various musicians and bands that originated from the Midlands of the UK. In the whole they stick pretty close to the originals but with their take on UB40’s 'One in Ten' they have slowed down the pace and injected a syringe full of melancholy into the proceedings, transforming the song. It is the one track that here improves on the original as the arrangement forces the listener to focus on the desolate lyrics instead of UB40’s pumping, downbeat reggae groove. Elsewhere the key is fun, tributes to the likes of the Primitives, Duran Duran and Stourbridge legends Pop Will Eat Itself fly by, and the only track that isn’t truly up to scratch is opener 'Far Far Away' which never manages to grasp on to Slade original’s magic. Saying that I have never heard anyone cover Slade and match them, let alone better them, so the band don’t lose too much face here. But enough of the starter, devouring the main meal is what Wonder Stuff fans have been waiting for all these years, a brand new album full of original material. And would you believe it’s been worth the wait. Where 'Suspended by Stars' and 'Escape from Rubbish Island' didn’t quite capture that band’s original spark or vibrant knack for penning a tune that you could fall in love with, 'Oh No… It’s the Wonder Stuff' appears to be the natural and superior successor to 'Construction for the Modern Idiot’. 'Be Thy Name' contains one of the most passionate Hunt vocals ever placed onto plastic. The opening line of “I swear that this was easier when I was in my youth” may well be true, but to hear the audible cracks within the vocal take brings a specific weight to it that the line simply can’t hold alone. Within the emotion of that simple line the listener can feel the struggle from the various failures and successes of the intervening years since that band's swansong show at The Phoenix Festival. Intentional or not, it is moments like this that mean no matter what the financial success the record brings the band they are in a place where once again they are making music that truly matters, music that acknowledges the past and looks to the future and which is coming from the heart, not made for the bank, not made for the fans but for the players involved only. This is why fans fell in love with them in the first place. There is up-tempo moments of course. Opener 'Clear Through the Years' employs electronics within its opening moments to create an unusual space for the thumping drums to take over from. The chorus is fittingly huge and Erica’s string solo is lightning fast. Then we have the single 'Oh No!'. It could have been lifted directly from the 1993 'Construction…' sessions as well, except somehow it has too much life within its grooves to be part of the bands “difficult fourth album” as Miles famously once said at the time. There is vibrancy from all involved in the playing. The song sounds utterly alive. Another stand out needs to be mentioned though; 'Steady As You Go' is the best ballad that group has produced since 'Sleep Alone'. The strings once again sweep you through the songs length and the vocal is defeatist and content at the same time. Once again the Wonder Stuff are anything but easily pigeonholed, while the lyrics are still full of contradictions and penitent verse. I know it will annoy me no end as the band gets ignored by the press for yet another year when they can produce music as stunning as this. Maybe they got back together too early to catch the reformation wave. Perhaps pre-Britpop indie will have its day in the near future. Whatever, in the meantime this will do nicely thank you. Worth the seven years wait? And the rest.



Track Listing:-
1 Clear Through The Years
2 On No!
3 Friendly Company
4 Steady As You Go
5 From The Midlands With Love
6 Right Side Of The Turf
7 Hard Truths (Stay A While)
8 Be Thy Name
9 Yer Man's Alright
10 Arms Wide Open
11 Inner Voices
12 Far Far Away
13 Planet Earth
14 In A Room
15 Sweet, Sweet Pie
16 Blackberry Way
17 Get Up!
18 There, There, My Dear
19 Crash
20 One In Ten
21 Save It For Later


Band Links:-
http://www.thewonderstuff.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/thewonderstuffofficial/
https://twitter.com/thewonder_stuff
https://www.youtube.com/user/TheWonderStuffUK
https://www.instagram.com/thewonderstuffofficial/


Label Links:-
http://irl.org.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/SpiritIRL



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interviews


Interview with Miles Hunt (2012)
Wonder Stuff - Interview with Miles Hunt
Paul Waller speaks to Miles Hunt, the front man with bestselling 90's act the Wonder Stuff, about their current 'From the Midlands with Love’ cover singles project; forthcoming first album in eight years, and the break-up of the first line-up of the band at the height of their fame
Interview with Miles Hunt (2004)

live reviews


Leadmill, Sheffield, 12/3/2005
Wonder Stuff - Leadmill, Sheffield, 12/3/2005
18 years on from last seeing them, Denzil Watson at the Sheffield Leadmill finds that time has been kind to the reformed Wonder Stuff and vocalist and chief protagonist, back on the road to promote their new album 'Escape from Rubbish Island'


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