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In Memoriam
Rob Jones
Martin Gilks

After expressing a desire earlier in the year to do something to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the release of the group's debut album, 'The Eight Legged Groove Machine', the group took to the stage for two nights in Birmingham and London at the end of October 2008.

Performing the entire album from 'Red Berry Joy Town' right through to 'Poison', with a selection of some of their favourite tracks that had been released as bonus tracks with single releases such as 'Astley In The Noose', 'Ten Trenches Deep' and 'Goodbye Fatman', the group stormed their way through sets of over two hours leaving the audiences baying for more.  Encores for the shows consisted of a shortened greatest hits set whilst lucky holders of guest passes and VIP ticket were also treated to an after show party with an additional encore of early tracks 'Down Here', 'It's Not True' and 'Wonderful Day'.  Such was the response to the gigs that further dates were added for May 2009 at other Academy Group venues around the UK.

To celebrate the anniversary, the group also released a limited edition pressing of a completely re-recorded version of the 'Eight Legged Groove Machine' album with the current line-up consisting of the original ELGM tracks plus the bonus tracks as performed during the concerts.  Limited to just 1,000 copies, the album had been recorded by the group only a few weeks previous and whilst Miles was quick to maintain that he intended for the album to remain as true to its original roots as possible, the addition of Erica's violin parts to many tracks served to bring out a new enhancement to the album notably on tracks such as 'Poison', 'Ten Trenches Deep' and 'The Animals and Me'.


Shortly after the concerts, Mark McCarthy popped up on UK television screens when he appeared on the charity programme Celebrity Scissorhands as one of the guest hairdressers with his friend and work colleague Nina Butkovich-Budden, owner of Nina's Hair Parlour, a specialist vintage and retro hairdressing salon based in London.  Outside of his work with The Wonder Stuff and club-DJ, Mark's 'daytime job' is at the salon whose work is highly in demand and is regularly featured in magazines, fashion shows, trade exhibitions, music videos and more.


As 2008 drew to a close, it was announced that the group would be headlining a new festival in Reading, Heavenly Planet - designed to be a replacement for the WOMAD festival that had recently moved from the area to its new home in Wiltshire.  Sadly the festival would later be cancelled due to funding difficulties although further dates were added in the run-up to the Summer months as it was announced that, following a hugely successful appearance by Miles and Erica in 2008, the group would be appearing at the Wychwood Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse in May following their UK anniversary tour.


In March 2009, news leaked out that the group had been approached to headline one of the side stages at the Glastonbury festival, almost twenty years since they had last played there.  Headlining The Avalon Stage on the Saturday night, Miles has since been very vocal about not actually wanting to take part in the festival. 
When originally offered a Saturday-night headlining slot, Miles' first question was apparently "How much are they paying?" - the answer was not encouraging. "[It wasn't] even enough to pay for the crew," Miles said. "I had absolutely no interest in doing it. Why would I want to aid and abet Michael Eavis’s empire-building?"  He was, however, eventually talked into playing the festival by his management company.


The group also announced that they would be releasing their first single since 2006 with the release of 'The Animals And Me' - taken from the 20th Anniversary recording of the 'Eight Legged Groove machine' album.  The single would be accompanied by a bonus live version of 'Who Wants To Be The Disco King?' from their live album released in 2006.

The anniversary live dates approached with an increased amount of media interest.  Mentions of the group began picking up as the tourdates approached and the group were even included in a feature on Sky News about bands who had started revisiting earlier period of their career by performing complete albums during their live sets.  The tour saw the group perform to near-sellout crowds at all venues and the quality of the performances never dropped below outstanding for the who time.  The tour closer in London once again saw the group return to the stage during the aftershow party to perform the three tracks from their debut EP for the final time.


At the end of some of the anniversary dates, Miles announced that the group were planning on returning to the stage later in the year to perform the Hup album (released in 1989) in a format similar to the Eight Legged Groove Machine anniversary tour which would also see the group performing other tracks released during the same period.  A re-recording of the album was also going to be planned although it was rumoured that the group had also been working on new material during their time together during May also.

At the end of May, the group released their first album in Japan since 1993 with an exclusive pressing of their 'Eight Legged Groove Machine 20th Anniversary Edition' album which not only contained all of the tracks from the standard re-recorded release but also, somewhat confusingly, included non-album tracks from 2004 and 2006 that had previously only been available in the UK.  The Japanese release was later followed up in September by a live appearance in Tokyo in addition to some promotional work scheduled to take place around the show.


Wychwood Festival review

Basking in sunshine on the main stage The Wonder Stuff got Wychwood off to a great start on Friday.  The band provided non-stop feel-good tunes for an hour while festival-goers danced away to some of the best-known tracks of the Nineties.

Sporting a straw trilby hat and shades, frontman Miles Hunt was having a whale of a time and was thrilled to have been asked back to perform after appearing with violinist Erica Nockalls last year.  The band kicked off with Wish Away from their first album Eight Legged Groove Machine and then straight into It’s Yer Money.  “Every song we’re going to play is going to be from the last century and we won’t utter those dreaded words ‘this is from our new album’,” Miles said triumphantly to a delighted crowd.  It wasn’t long before they launched into Size of a Cow, the band’s first top 10 hit, and Don’t Let Me Down Gently.

It’s been 21 years since The Wonder Stuff released their debut album but they can still pull off a great gig with plenty of energy.  Inbetween swigging wine, singing through a megaphone and hurling an egg maraca into the crowd, Miles had a couple of pops at mainstream radio stations for not playing their tunes, but apart from that he was in good spirits.

“It’s a pleasure to be with you at Wychwood,” he said. “Myself and Erica played the big top last summer and it was a lovely afternoon. It’s a real privilege to be on the main stage with the band.”

Erica, who has been with The Wonder Stuff for three years, added a glamorous element with her Fifties dress, bright red lipstick and blue violin.  The five-piece had no shortage of material to draw from and got people of all ages up on their feet.

After a few years in the wilderness it’s great to see the band back on form.

Lucy Parford


Following the group's anniversary celebrations for their Eight Legged Groove Machine album, thoughts turned to their second album, HUP.  Tickets went on sale for a special one-off performance at the O2 Academy in Birmingham where it was announced that a new Anniversary re-recording of the album would also go onsale.  The date would also feature a plethora of support acts as the venue had two side stages in addition to the main stage leading to no less that six support acts, many of whom had worked (or planned to work) with Miles as part of his Shared project.


The end of June saw the group returning to the Glastonbury Festival - very much a different affair to their original debut at the festival where they were 4th on the Friday night bill followed by All About Eve and Suzanne Vega!  Going head-to-head with 'The Boss' Bruce Springsteen on the main stage, the group only expected to pick up a small gathering to see them perform - and Miles was still un-excited about the prospect of performing at the event.

Ultimately, their show was watched by a crowd of around 5000 people inside the tent with many more piled up outside trying to listen in and get a glimpse of the group.  At times the audience were so loud that the group couldn't be heard over the noise of the crowd singing along and Miles concedes he ended up enjoying the night.  "I absolutely loved it," he said in an interview in the Sunday Time following the festival appearance, "but the money was still piss-poor!"