Friday, August 01, 2014

FDF Volume 3 Issue 346 - The Wonder Stuff - Hup

Album - Hup

Artist – The Wonder Stuff

Key Players – Martin Gilks – drums. James Taylor – organ. Martin Bell – fiddle, banjo. Rob Jones – bass. Malcolm Treece – guitar, vocals. Miles Hunt – lead vocals, guitar.

Produced By – Pat Collier

Release Date – October 3. 1989

Overview - This is the second album from the band. The band was formed in 1986 and originated out of Stourbridge, West Midlands, United Kingdom. The alt rock band blended acoustic guitars, banjo and fiddle for some rowdy fan sing along anthems. The band would have a revolving door of members but would continue to release records but break it off in 1994. In 1995 a Live album was released and the band would go off to solo projects. By 2000 the band had re-formed and a one off show became a series of sell out shows. The band continues to be largely Miles Hunt's project and their most recent studio album came out in 2012.

This is the second time The Wonder Stuff has gotten coverage on this blog, The first time was when we looked at “Construction for the Modern Idiot” back in 2007.  Read about it here if you like

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – Twelve tracks in just under 40 minutes is how this breaks down.
“30 Years In The Bathroom” opens with sound effects and a TV Broadcast that run for close to a minute before the band comes in. The guitars bass and drums slowly build as Hunt begins to sing. The song has a mid tempo feel with Hunt pushing things. Jones has a cool bass line and Treece and Hunt seem to play off one another on the guitar. Gilks has some conga rolls as Treece has a very brief solo and the song loops back and winds to a close. In an homage to the radio business and payola you get
“Radio Ass Kiss”. Gilks snare has a cool effect as he “rat-a-tats” the intro and the full band comes right on. A more uptempo track than the opener the chorus, as expected, is a great sing along. For the first time you hear more from Taylor and Bell as “Golden Green” gets underway. The country feeling track will have your toes tapping and Treece adds great support on guitar and vocally. “Let's Be Other People” is a track that I'd sum up as being the classic Wonder Stuff sound. Great guitars, an equally pushing bass line with simple, but tight drums. The build up to the chorus is where Wonder Stuff songs tend to shine, this is no exception. Treece goes after the wah wah pedal and is up to the task with Hunt vocally. A shining moment on the record comes in the track "Piece of Sky"  . Just have a listen and hear the harmonies and layer upon layer of instruments.   "Can't Shape Up"   is another track that stands out with the wall of guitar intro and heavy hits from Gilks. Buried a little in the mix are the swooping bass riffs from Jones as Treece locks in to a progression. Hunt seems to really push himself, but keep the range tight. Another stand out track.
 "Don't Let Me Down, Gently"  was released as a single to radio in the US and its rollicking beat makes complete sense it was chosen as a single. The bass and guitar play is solid and Gilks really gets a work out on the drums. We slow down some with the track “Cartoon Boyfriend”. For the first time you really hear Bell on the fiddle as it seems to be a key component to the track. When Hunt sings the verse the bass and acoustic guitars reign supreme and the vocal harmonies are strong. The punchy bass that comes with the keyboard intro on “Good Night Though” builds to a frantic full band eruption. The vocals are quick and sung with urgency as the track rolls.  “Unfaithful” has a country feel to it with the acoustic guitars and fiddle. The melody is nice and its a cool “other” side of what the band can do. Where one comes up with a title like “Them, Big Oak Trees” is a mystery, but it is one heck of a catchy track. The bass on this track is only second to the great vocal work with the band. The nice thing about the Wonder Stuff is its never really a full on showcase for one instrument. You get that whole “big” sound all the time. Closing out the record is“Room 410” another track that uses spoken samples as part of the intro on the song. The drums have a particular snap to them, even the tom toms, and the guitars are busy melding back and forth. A bit on the trippy side, but that is okay. The Wonder Stuff want to keep you interested, and guessing.

Where are they now? - The band broke up in 1994, but reformed in 2000 with Hunt being the lone member still from this period. The last studio record from the band was in 2012 called “Oh No It's..The Wonder Stuff”. Jones left the band in 1989 and moved to the United States. He passed away in 1993. Gilks passed away in 2006 as the result of a motorcycle accident. I don't have any information on Treece, Bell or Taylor, so please hit up the comments!

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? - I spent a LOT of time with this record soon after it came out as my friends and I dove it to this record. It was played a great deal and the band I was in at the time would try to work up some of the tunes. For me personally it brings back some very fond memories. For the outsider, there are some very rocking tunes on here. Even some of the bands today like the Avett Brothers for example probably unknowingly dip in to the pool that the Wonder Stuff laid down with the heavy acoustic guitars, fiddle and organ. A best of collection for the new fan would have you excited for sure to go back to the individual releases.

Links, find out more, follow em and buy!

Disclaimer – I am just a music fan. Feel free to comment about something that may be written incorrectly about the band/members etc. I strive to have a fun and enjoyable site. This site used to post mp3s but ran in to many issues. The audio clips provided are usually from YouTube. No copy write infringement is intended. Please alert me if something should be pulled. Finally, support the artist featured, or your favorite artist by purchasing their music, seeing their shows if possible and saying hi. They need your support.


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