Home > Bargain > The Wonder Stuff – The Eight Legged Groove Machine

The Wonder Stuff – The Eight Legged Groove Machine

Polydor Records, 1988

Sometimes it’s a feeling, sometimes it’s  the original release date, but usually it’s an album cover that makes one draw out the wallet and cough up the change for a cheap record.  Look at that thing.  It’s bright pink with cops!  Also, why does the band get all wavy with their band name and then make sure that “groove” gets the funky font treatment?  I figured at first that this was going to be late eighties version of Phish.  However it turned out, I thought it was interesting to find it in a dollar bin because, given its age and fine condition, it had been in someone’s collection for some time before it was let go.  Maybe the fact that it was in such good condition might have, in hindsight, implied that it wasn’t listened to very often.

The Wonder Stuff are a band from England that were victims of the time.  The eighties were coming to an end and though Madchester was in full swing, the band wasn’t one of the clubby few that got ravenous press.  They couldn’t even slip in over here because we got the arguably delusional idea that hairspray, guys dressed as women, and poor clothing were a great idea for hard rock.  This left the Wonder Stuff to ply their pop rock trade as best they could given the situation, and it worked for a short while in England.  It just didn’t end up sticking.

Their debut record with the trippy album art is as good as any for a rock band making a feisty impression.  A great double dose to open the album will get the head nodding, with “Red Berry Joy Town” and “No For the 13th Time” speeding along freely with quick guitar hooks and multi-layered vocals.  I also like the fact that there isn’t a synthesizer to be heard as far as I can tell, which is a small miracle even if this was released at the end of a decade full of ’em.  However, with a rather dense sound and vocals that are immersed in the music, these guys really do resemble their contemporaries the Stone Roses .  They do get a little sluggish with “Rue the Day” early on the album, which sort of bumps along without inspiring much interest.  However, its thankfully short-lived as the band recovers quickly with a couple of good ones starting with “Merry Go Round”.  The Wonder Stuff are certainly at their best when they just serve up the pop rock in agreeable two and a half minute doses.

A few of their songs can be found on their MySpace page, but for more info on these guys check out their website.

The Wonder Stuff has actually regrouped and have put out a few albums this decade, including a 20th anniversary re-recording of this very album.  Whether or not anyone was hoping for a return is another discussion, but spinning this record a few times I have to wonder why this group didn’t catch on so well at the time.  They’re catchy, they’re earnest, and they sound whimsically engaging.  At least they’re giving the Brits another chance to appreciate them, even if its a few decades later.

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