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In Memoriam
Rob Jones
Martin Gilks

As the year drew to a close, the group went to work on learning (and re-learning!) tracks from the HUP album along with some of those tracks that has been released as bonus tracks and B-sides during the 1989/1990 era.

When posters and flyers for the show had been initially released, they had advertised the fact that a newly re-recorded version of the HUP album would be on-sale at the show.  However, with time against them, it became clear that the album wouldn't be ready in time - indeed it wasn't until the end of February 2010 that Miles and Malc went into the recording studios with Pat Collier to finally put the finishing touches to the album leaving just a few weeks to get the album completed with artwork, liner notes and sleeve production not to mention the actual pressing of the discs.

A couple of weeks before the Birmingham show, it was suggested that the show could be recorded for a future DVD release.  Behind-the-scenes discussions and logistical planning meant that it was literally only a few hours before the group took to the stage before it was confirmed that the show would be recorded with some hasty preparations being made for camera and microphone setups.  This would be the first fully-live record of the group's performance capturing almost every moment of the show from start to finish - no in-between commentaries or pop videos just straight, out and out, live performances.



At the head of the triumvirate of bands that made a temporary NME Mecca of the town of Stourbridge, on Birmingham's western fringes, were the petulant, spit-in-your-eye quartet The Wonder Stuff. Flanked by Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned's Atomic Dustbin, they dealt in fuzzy rushes of acerbic guitar pop, but in 1989, after a trot around America and the addition of the multi-instrumentalist Martin "Fiddly" Bell, things were about to take a bit of a hoe-downish turn.

"Being on a tour bus with us was a nightmare," explains the band's frontman and famously spiky mouthpiece, Miles Hunt. "We wouldn't let each other play our favourite music, so we settled on stuff that we all agreed that we hated. We'd been on the road in America for a couple of months and then we got into this album called Forty Trucking Greats. Just 40 songs about trucking. Very yee-ha. We were also starting to enjoy a bit of country and bluegrass."

The resulting album, Hup, was a sparkling mixture of Wonder Stuff old and new: "Don't Let Me Down, Gently", the band's first Top 20 hit, was one of a clutch that still provided kindle for the sweaty mosh pit, but others, notably the glorious "Golden Green", leant the band a rootsy brio and provided a benchmark for the rest of their career.

Twenty-one years later, and The Wonder Stuff are back to celebrate Hup's longevity, playing the album in its entirety over a series of live dates and pegging on an hour's-worth of old favourites for very good measure. A bostin' time, then, as they say in the Black Country, and absolutely nowhere else.

Warren Howard, The Independent


The HUP anniversary show could almost have been described as a mini-festival.  With the O2 venue offering multiple stages, Miles organised for three groups of performers to play during the night before the group themselves began their set on the main stage.  Acts from 'Shared' such as Dirty Ray and Tim Parkes took to the stage alongside The Alarm's Dave Sharpe and Carter USM's Jim Bob.  A late addition to the support line-up was Birmingham's The Twang, whose lead-singer had met with Miles earlier in the year when they discussed the possibility of him appearing on a future Shared album.

A short while into the main performance, Miles announced that the group would not be performing the album in exactly the same order as it had been originally released.  He said that after the album had come out he felt they'd got it wrong - a prime example being the positioning of the track 'Good Night Though' coming in as the ninth track when he felt it should have been the final track on the album.

The show was such a success that the group began to look at plans to tour the album, hopefully to coincide with the eventual release of the re-recorded HUP album.  The first announcement of the tour, to take place in April, came at the beginning of February 2010 when Miles spoke about it during the inter-song banter at one of his acoustic shows.  Further dates were also announced for the middle of the year including a number of festival appearances.


Following the end of the second set of HUP dates which saw the group playing across the country to near-sellout audiences each night, Miles was asked about his plans for the group going forward.  He said that he had had enough of looking backwards and wanted to working on new projects and material.  On the subject of new Wonder Stuff material, Miles said that any new works would need to be directed by Malc in the first instance but he hoped that a new Wonder Stuff album would emerge at some stage in 2011.  Miles also said that he was working on producing tracks for a number of the acts who he had become acquainted with through both his work on the 'Shared' project and also from performances he'd seen at the Horseshoe Inn pub near to where he lives.


At the end of May, it was announced that the group had been booked for the middle of July to be the first act to perform at a new series of concerts to be held at Coopers Field in Cardiff, in the grounds of Cardiff Castle.  Unfortunately, just two days before the show was due to take place it had to be cancelled.  Despite a massive amount of work having been done by the group's management and the event promoters, Cardiff City Council decided to undertake a last-minute review of the anticipated sound levels for the show and decided that they exceeded permissible limits for the venue.  Despite efforts to find an alternative location for the show to be held, up against such tight time-scales they were fighting a losing battle and the official announcement was made on the 14th July (only the day before the show should have been due to take place) that it had cancelled outright.  This left a hole in the group's touring plans - they were booked to play Leamington on the 14th, Cardiff would have been on the 15th and then the Guilfest festival was arranged for the 16th.  For most groups this would not be a huge issue but travel logistics for the group, notably those for getting Andres and some of the crew over to the UK for shows, mean that any shows booked need to take into account the cost of travel arrangements and any tours that run for less than three days are unlikely to make the dates financially viable on an ongoing basis.


The final Wonder Stuff show of 2010 was in August at Belfast's Feile Festival.  No further dates were planned for the group and, indeed, there were no plans for the group to get together at any stage before the end of the year to do any further work together, despite the rumours that they hoped to have a new album out early in 2011.

During some of his acoustic shows, Miles did finally talk about the rumours of Never Loved Elvis anniversary shows however and hinted they would be taking place before the Summer of 2011 and also that they would likely bring out a re-recorded version of that album also.  The main concern he had though was that it could conflict with the release of a new Wonder Stuff album, which logic would dictate would be supported by a full tour in its own right to promote the new album, and also that a second 'Shared' album was anticipated as well as a new live album from one of the acoustic shows performed by Erica and himself in October 2010.

As more acoustic shows passed, Miles announced that the shows would be taking place in October 2011 although no further information was given.  However, in October a series of dates around the UK were announced where the group would be supporting The Levellers at a number of O2-owned venues around the country in March 2011.  Initially 10 dates were announced, culminating in a final show at the Brixton Academy in London on what would be the actual 25th anniversary of the group originally forming.  A further four dates were later a few weeks later which would see the tour starting in Liverpool on March 4th.

A warm-up date for the tour was booked for the unusual surroundings of Buxton Opera House in mid-February.


As the year drew to a close, it was announced that Andres Karu had decided to leave the group.  Since coming on-board in 2004, Andres had started to develop a career in TV and Film and had decided earlier in the year that this was the path he now wanted to go down rather than his current musical direction.  Andre's decision surprised the group though they all wished him well and began to search for a new drummer to take his place.

The task was concluded in mid-November when Miles approached Fuzz Townshend, known to many Wonder Stuff fans as the former drummer from Pop Will Eat Itself.  Fuzz was obviously already well-known to Miles and Malc, as well as many of the touring crew members, and fans of the group were very pleased and excited at the new appointment.