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In Memoriam
Rob Jones
Martin Gilks

As the group's dates at the end of 2003 came to an end, it became apparent that trouble was brewing within the Wonder Stuff camp. Miles was reported to be keen to try out new material after playing some of his recently recorded solo work to Clint Mansell whilst working with him in New York. After hearing some of the tracks, Clint was quoted as having said that it was “more like a new Wonder Stuff album than anything else you’ve put out since you disbanded”. Miles approached the other members of the group but this resulted in a major fall-out with some other members, particularly  Martin Gilks, having already recently disagreed about the levels of royalties being issued to each member and also songwriting credits on their work.  Shortly after, Miles received a call from Martin asking him to collect his equipment from the group's lock-up store as they no longer wanted him to be part of the group and they would be splitting up again.

This was the culmination of a number of clashes within the group in recent times. Concerns had come to light in relation to the groups live appearances at the end of 2003 which saw ticket prices in the region of £25 - a figure that many fans, and also some members of the group, felt was to high to realistically justify. Issues over songwriting credits for any new material was also a major cause for disagreement.


Ditched by the group, Miles continued with his plans to release his own solo album 'Escape From Rubbish Island' early in 2004 but with the realisation that he and Malc Treece had been the primary songwriters in the group and with Malc having worked with Miles on the new album, they decided to continue using the Wonder Stuff branding by switching the release of the new album from a solo project to a fully-blown 'Wonder Stuff' release.

This was confirmed in May when Miles performed a handful of solo acoustic UK dates which included tracks from the new album including one song, 'Are You Ready For A Fist Fight?' that he said could be the next Wonder Stuff single.

In the interim, Eagle Records released a single disc compilation of the 'Cursed With Insincerity' album under the title 'Welcome To The Cheap Seats : Greatest Hits Live'. The album, distributed on their budget Music Club label contained nineteen of the original twenty-six with a reprint of Miles' original liner notes. Notes on the CD sleeve indicated that all of the tracks on this release were taken from the final night's performance at the Forum in 2000.  The 'Cursed With Insincerity' album was still on general availability though and the new release did not state the tracks had previously appeared elsewhere on the outer packaging so a number of fans went out and bought in only to feel slightly conned when they opened the disk contents and played it - albeit that the running order was slightly different to that of the 'Cursed' release.


In June, the group's official website was updated to show a statement from Martin Bell and Martin Gilks confirming the group had encountered a number of internal disagreements and that they were no longer working with Miles but that he was working on a new solo project but still continuing to use The Wonder Stuff name.


It may not have escaped your notice that there is a band out there purporting to be "The Wonder Stuff" who are touring in October. As we see it, we feel that you are owed an explanation.

This band is releasing a solo album by Miles Hunt provisionally titled, "Escape From Rubbish Island" and has re-branded it under the name of "The Wonder Stuff" (to be released on IRL Recordings, an independent label associated with Spirit Music & Media, Miles' management company). However, we feel it is only right to point out that Martin Gilks & Martin Bell, along with Stuart Quinnell and Peter Whitaker, have nothing whatsoever to do with either this tour or the recording. We perceive this as merely a marketing ploy by Hunt & IRL. It appears that Malcom Treece will be making an appearance with this group, although we have had no confirmation from Malcom at this time.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported us since the reformation concerts in December 2000 and are sorry that things have ended up the way they have. But this situation is not of our making.

Martin Bell & Martin Gilks


Miles chose to wait a couple of weeks before launching his own new Wonder Stuff website where he gave his own response to the changes - "...for those of you that would've like to have seen me take part in the debate over the line up change that the band have recently gone through.... I simply have better things to do."  The new line-up for the group would consist of Miles and Malc in their familiar roles with Miles' flatmate Mark McCarthy (formerly of Radical Dance Factory) on bass. Drumming duties were to be split between Luke Johnson (studio work on the new album) and Andres Karu (live performances).

The first offering to feature the new line-up would be released in September through the now-much publicised 'Escape From Rubbish Island' album. This was to be followed up shortly after by the group's first single release since 'Unbearable' in 1994 with the aptly-titled 'Better Get Ready For A Fist Fight'. The release of the album was followed by a tour of the UK covering a wide range of areas such as Leeds, Glasgow, Nottingham, Birmingham, Norwich, Bristol and London. A warm-up was scheduled for the Cambridge Junction.

At the time it was rumoured that the album would also be released as a limited edition double album featuring a bonus disc of cover versions recorded by Miles and amusingly titled 'Hunt Sings 'Em For The Ladies'. The tracks, all performed acoustically, included Adam Ant's 'AntMusic', Thin Lizzy's 'Whiskey In The Jar' and Wreckless Eric's 'Whole Wide World'. The double album was listed on many online stores such as Amazon, HMV, Tower etc. but by the end of August it was clear that the tracks would not be finished in time - indeed many had still not yet even been recorded - so the bonus disc was shelved and the release simply came out as a single-disc album.

The remainder of August and early September was taken up with the group rehearsing for the forthcoming tour. The plan was for the live dates to include 6-7 tracks from the new album, with another 18-19 taken from the group's back catalogue. The group were keen to explore new ideas and worked on a number of older album tracks and early B-side material such as 'Grin' and 'Ooh She Said'.


After three years of Christmas gig reunions playing the old hits to pay for the turkey and trimmings, THE WONDER STUFF have decided to go the whole hog and make a new album too. Well, sort of.

Check the official band website at www.thewonderstuff.com (as opposed to the other official www.thewonderstuff.co.uk) and you'll find a note from Martins' Gilks and Bell to the effect that neither they nor Stuart Quinell and Peter Whitaker have had any involvement and that, while featuring guitarist Malc Treece, Escape From Rubbish Island (IRL) is actually a Miles Hunt solo album, recorded with Radical Dance Faction bassist Mark McCarthy and Amen drummer Luke Johnson, that's been rebranded under the band's name.

Whatever the politics, it ultimately comes down to whether the album's actually any good. Which is most certainly is. Variously veined with Hunt's acrid views of Britain (the rubbish island), his cock rock influences (the title track struts like the Stones), love of the Beatles (Bile Chant borrows from George Harrison's Within And Without You) and growing fondness for Americana, it's a guitar driven number that's both very much in the classic Stuffies mould and, in the moody Eastern-flavoured Head Count and the fabulous Celtic-hued anthemic ballad (with Bill Hunt on soaring organ) Love's Ltd, far beyond anything they could have attempted.

The usual sharp, biting lyrics and contrasting mix of self-assertiveness and self-criticism Better Get Ready For A Fist Fight, You Don't Know Who, Was I Meant To Be Sorry are present and correct while if anything Hunt's melodies have grown even stronger over the years, producing what's arguably the best thing he's done since the band's debut. Of course, it should also be said that his borrowings have become a lot cockier, Another Comic Tragedy sounding not a million miles away from Aztec Camera's Somewhere In My Heart!

Mike Davies
The Beat


Promotional beermat (!) issued at Cambridge and London gigs only

The album's release at the end of September was met with mixed reception. Many were unsure of the new line-up but reviews for the album cited it as a more rockier return harking back to the days of 'Eight Legged Groove Machine' and 'Hup'. Indeed, the line-up were indeed back to being purely eight legs again without a fiddle or violin in sight on the album - although organs, pipes and cowbells made an appearance. The first track on the album, also it's title track, spoke of Miles' disgust at the state of the country at the present time. Fuelled by politicians, the Iraq war and the general state of the nation, Miles had been quoted in interviews for a number of months that was considering leaving the UK and moving to relocate to Southern Ireland, probably around the Dublin area. Having spent time there in recent years, Miles had developed a love for the country and was keen to move from his current London home to a new location over the Irish Sea. In the end, his move from London didn't quite stretch as far as Ireland, instead only as far as a return to Shropshire where he had originally briefly moved to after the Wonder Stuff had split in 1994.

Three tracks on the new album were co-written - two with new bassist Mark and another with Jonny Male (of Cheapglue and Republica) who Miles had struck up a recent friendship with through their management company. Despite the lack of liner notes which fans had grown to love from previous albums, Miles was happy to divulge information about some of the tracks when pressed - 'Head Count' was written with Stuffies manager Les Johnson in mind, the idea for the song coming after the two of them had a disagreement about something and both realised they were as stubborn as each other to back down; 'Was I Meant To Be Sorry's' opening line ("Was I meant to be sorry that I didn't look good enough, when this is the only face that God gave me") came from a conversation Miles had had with a close female friend who had recently been left by her partner. She made the quote when she was talking to Miles about the break-up and Miles just had to stop her mid-flow and go to write it down.


During the course of the tour to promote the album, Miles was invited to take part in a number of radio interviews at a number of the cities and towns visited. Many of the interviewers were keen to find out more about the acrimonious split within the group and find out more about the line-up changes. In an interview on the eFestivals website prior to the group's appearance in Nottingham, Miles said "the truth of the matter is we had a disagreement after the gig we did last Christmas, I was trying to call them, they wouldn’t return any of my calls, they wouldn’t return any of my emails. Eventually one of them phoned Malc and told him that he couldn’t work with me anymore. I was told to get my equipment out of the storage space by a certain date, and that my last cheque would arrive on a certain date."  In another interview he went on to say "...it got to be a situation where we were always arguing and banging heads. Martin was acting as our manager and trying to sort gigs where we would be playing huge places and charging the fans £25 per ticket. That wasn't on at all. Anyway, in the end, Martin said he didn't want to be in a band with me anymore. Fine by me."

In another interview, Miles went on further to say, "The support we've been shown by our audience over the years is phenomenal. Particularly these last three years. I think if we'd have carried on wheeling ourselves out every Christmas, like The Gary Glitter Gang Show, with no new releases, then we'd be taking the piss. This new record is as much a thank you to those people as it is a necessity for us to write, record & play."


Following the completion of the tour, the group felt that they could improve on some of tracks from on the new album and returned to the studio to record new versions  of six tracks in total - 'Bile Chant', 'You Don't Know Who...', 'Back To Work', 'Escape From Rubbish Island', 'Better Get Ready For A Fist Fight' and 'Another Comic Tragedy'. The new versions were included on the American release of the album as well as on digital download stores.

Rumours also started about the next appearances for the group. A planned appearance at the CMJ Music Festival in New Jersey was shelved due to travelling difficulties but was quickly followed by rumours of plans for another UK tour in early 2005 which would be followed by a series of live dates in America to promote the release of 'Escape From Rubbish Island' over there. Miles also spoke of plans to record new material with Vic Reeves, although whether this would be a solo or Wonder Stuff project was unclear. The two artists have been talking for a long time about doing further work together and some unreleased material based on tracks from Underground Ernie have featured Vic on vocals.


In mid-November, it was confirmed that the group would be touring the UK during March 2005. A new single would also be released shortly before the tour. Adverts for the single's release in December issues of New Musical Express indicated that 'Bile Chant' and 'Escape From Rubbish Island' would be released as a double a-sided in February. With the single containing the newly re-recorded versions of the tracks, its content was be enhanced with the inclusion of three remixes by Johnny Dope of Alabama3. New bassist Mark McCarthy had given Johnny a number of tracks to work with during Summer 2004 and the group had selected these particular tracks for release although it isn't clear whether Dope had worked on other tracks that have not yet been released.