The Wonderstuff – The Eight Legged Groove Machine – Round 27: Graham’s Choice

Cover (The Eight Legged Groove Machine:The Wonder Stuff)

Following some of the choices in previous round, I was feeling nostalgic about 80’s student days. The end result inspiring my selection for this round. Though I could have kept this album for when we get round to the theme night of bands you have quickly fallen out of love with.

Being a student in Brum, I spent a good deal of 1988/89 following this lot around the midlands. Given it’s the only Wonderstuff (or “Stuffies”, as we referred to them back in the day) album I possess, I guess that shows how briefly the relationship lasted.

Overly nostalgic on the night, I recalled how accessible live music was at the time and we simply went out and turned up a local venues and caught up with bands like Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Crazy Head, Carter USM, Pop Will Eat Itself etc, etc,. We even discussed the “grebo” scene on the night, a word that I can’t say I heard much of since the late 80’s.

I always thought of this album as indie-pop and listening again its aggressive and arrogant tone is still pretty sharp. Live the band ranged from euphoric to chaotic, but always gave a good show.

Miles Hunt combined both catchy lyrics and riffs to produce great singles like  “Unbearable”, “Give Give Give, Me More More More”, “A Wish Away” and “It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby”. There are  some more reflective moments on the album, but not many. Most of the tracks are crashing guitars and loud drums, “in yer face”, exactly where Miles wanted to be. Unfortunately that approach can become tiresome fairly quickly. A band that I loved for their initial irreverence and arrogance, quickly felt to me like a band with an over-inflated sense of self importance and attitude issues.

I’ll forgive them for now and wallow in a bit more of a nostalgic moment, pint of Snakebite anyone?

Rob listened: I spent my fair share of afternoons singing along to ‘The Eight Legged Groove Machine’ back in the day, so I was happy to hear it again for what must be the first time in 20 years. Still some great songs, and unlike Graham, I persisted with them until ‘Hup’ which I think also has a smattering of goodness to offer. We talked much about Miles Hunt’s ego and whether it’s possible to like an artist who is quite possibly horrible. For me it’s summed up by the title of The Wonderstuff’s greatest hits package ‘If The Beatles Had Read Hunter’. Now, i’m not interested in the Beatles, but I have read almost every word Hunter S Thompson published. He was monstrously arrogant, but he channeled his arrogance into a style that was sufficiently bombastic and over-inflated to contain him. Arrogance is fine in an artist if they can back it up. Hunter could but Miles Hunt couldn’t, and thus he resorts to using his record titles to desperately assert his false superiority. Come to think of it, ‘Wonderstuff’ is a bit of a stretch too…

Tom Listened: It has struck me in the fortnight or so since Graham played this that The Wonderstuff were a bit like an early prototype of Oasis. Which is probably why I listened to them for about a term at the start of university and then dropped them like a stone. Because lurking not far beneath the straightforward pop tunes of 8LGM is a boorish laddishness that, if our conversation on the night is is any way accurate, seems to be a pretty true reflection of the lead singer. Whether I stopped listening to The Wonderstuff because of this or whether I just rapidly tired of the songs I’m not sure but, having recently been reacquainted with Miles and the gang (Uncool and the Gang anyone?), I’m pretty sure our relationship is now dead and buried.

Nick listened: The Wonderstuff are an odd one. Miles Hunt seems to be a prime example of apt rhyming slang, judging by all the stories that easily trot out about him in the context of musicians who are also insufferable %$&*s. Despite Hunt’s obstreperousness, I actually really quite like his band, as a singles artist at least – the only record I own by them is the aforementioned If The Beatles Had Read Hunter, which I think is pretty much terrific, song-for-song. So even though this was the first time I’d listened to a whole studio album by The Wonderstuff in one sitting, I knew (and liked) about a third of the songs already, and though the others didn’t jump out at me, they seemed alright. And that’s the thing about The Wonderstuff; they’d be alright, too, if Miles Hunt hadn’t poisoned many people’s attitudes towards them by being such a massive knobhead. Instead they’ve been consigned to the dustbin of critical history.

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