Let’s take a look at another one of my all time favorite bands of the 90s… The Wonder Stuff. Another band that I got to play on the radio a lot over the years (still do, actually). I got to become friendly with the band in the early 90s, and am happy to say I still am friends with frontman Miles Hunt.
A great band from Stourbridge in the West Midlands of England. The original line-up, who got together for the first time in 1986, was Miles Hunt (vocals & guitar), Malcolm Treece (guitar & vocals), Rob “The Bass Thing” Jones (bass) and Martin Gilks (drums, died April 2006). After the release of a self-financed EP, A Wonderful Day, they signed to Polydor Records in 1987 to release a series of singles and the debut album The Eight Legged Groove Machine in 1988.
Ruby Horse (from Eight Legged Groove Machine, 1988, live 1989)
The album featured their first UK top 40 hit, “It’s Yer Money I’m After, Baby.” They followed up The Eight Legged Groove Machine in 1989 with the album Hup. Hup featured their first UK top 20 hit, “Don’t Let Me Down, Gently.” They added Martin Bell to the band to play fiddle and banjo. While on tour in the US, The Bass Thing decided he would leave the band to stay in NYC. Which he did until his sudden death in the summer of 1993. Paul Clifford had replaced Jones in 1990. The only release that year was the single “Circlesquare.”
Circlesquare (1990 single, live at Phoenix Festival 1994)
The line-up of Hunt/Treece/Gilks/Clifford/Bell would then make the album that skyrocketed them to “stadium band” – Never Loved Elvis, in 1991. The album and it’s first single, “The Size Of A Cow” both made it into the UK top 10, followed by another UK top 20 hit, “Caught In My Shadow.” They headlined their local football stadium (Bescot Stadium in Walsall) before 18,000 of their closest friends. There was a documentary of sorts also made around this time called Welcome To The Cheap Seats (which was also the name of a single from the album). They also scored their first number one hit with a cover of Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy” with British comedian Vic Reeves. They wrapped up the touring for Never Loved Elvis with a headlining slot at 1992’s Reading Festival.
I took the photo for this single cover.
I actually witnessed this from the green room having somehow finagled my way into the taping.
Welcome To The Cheap Seats (from Never Loved Elvis, 1991, live on David Letterman)
Mission Drive (from Never Loved Elvis, 1991, from the Welcome To The Cheap Seats film 1991)
Unbearable & Give Give Give Me More More More (from Eight Legged Groove Machine, 1988, live at Reading Festival 1992)
I also took this photo at a show on Long Island.
In 1993 they released another album, Construction For The Modern Idiot, and embarked on their longest tour to date. A tour that would bring about the end of the band. The album made it into the UK top 5 and included more UK top 20 hits. They played their final show at the Phoenix Festival in July 1994, about a month after announcing that they would split.
On The Ropes (from Construction For The Modern Idiot, 1993, live at Phoenix Festival 1994)
Through the rest of the 90s and early 2000s band members worked on various solo projects and new bands. A scheduled one off reunion concert in 2000 quickly tuned into 5 sold out nights. Live albums, DVDs, compilations and more reunion shows followed. Eventually leading to the first new album from The Wonder Stuff in over a decade, Escape From Rubbish Island in 2004.
Escape From Rubbish Island (from Escape From Rubbish Island, 2004)
In 2006 they released a new album, Suspended By Stars. They also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the band and started rereleasing newly recorded versions of their back catalog coinciding with the 20th anniversaries of each album. Hunt and current violinist Erica Nockalls spend a great deal of time touring as an acoustic duo, including a 2009 visit to Red Bank NJ to play a show that the radio station I currently work at sponsored.
Stay Scared, Stay Tuned (from Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls album Catching More Than We Miss, 2009, live in Red Bank NJ 2009)
The current line-up of The Wonder Stuff are recording and touring. The current project is a series of singles and videos called “From The Midlands With Love” which has them recording covers of songs originally done by other bands from the Midlands. They will release an album in the fall of 2012 called Oh No…It’s The Wonder Stuff. And they’ll do their annual Christmas shows, this time featuring their old mates Pop Will Eat Itself and Jesus Jones.
Blackberry Way (The Move cover, 2012)
Save It For Later (The English Beat cover, 2012)
Far, Far Away (Slade cover, 2012)