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In The Beginning...
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In Memoriam
Rob Jones
Martin Gilks

The official line from Polydor was that "every member of the band is taking a couple of months off - two or three at least". In reality, the start of 1990 found Miles (still) living at the flat in London, Malc in America visiting relatives and Martin in Thailand. No-one was exactly certain what was going on, not even within the group itself. In one interview Miles said, "I don't know if he (Bob) has left or not, but to be honest I don't care at the minute - if he has left I sort of know why and I feel like that myself sometimes - so we're just knocking it on the head for a few months." In another interview he went on to say, "Bob started to go a bit off the wall and it was a bit depressing having someone in the band who was totally unhappy. We all found it like careering into a brick wall and we just wanted to take some time off and slow down for a bit. We want to get hungry for it again."

19th January 1990

To: Robin Gibson. News Editor, Sounds
RE: The Bass Thing/The Wonder Stuff

Contrary to popular belief and/or rumours, I, The Bass Thing, did part company with The Wonder Stuff at Christmas, 1989.

Yours Truly
The Bass Thing

To add to the confusion, but to maintain the profile of 'Hup' in the United States, Polydor released 'Cartoon Boyfriend' as a promotional CD single towards the end of January featuring 'Get Together' and 'Gimme Some Truth' from the 'Golden Green' single (not issued in America) along with a cover of Pop Will Eat Itself's 'Inside You' - the latter of which appeared in the UK the following month on a Polydor promotional CD, 'In Future', which previewed forthcoming singles. Whether there were any ideas about releasing the cover as a single is doubtful, it is more likely that Polydor just wanted to keep people's interest in the group alive. The track, which often appeared as part of the live set on the 'Hup' tour, was taken from the sessions recorded at Rockfield Studios at the end of 1989 primarily for fun. It also featured on 'Waffle And Maple Syrup', a promotional LP distributed to American college radio stations and hosted by DJ Gary Crowley, which contained an interview with the group mixed with live, rare and exclusive tracks to maintain the band's profile whilst they laid low.


In February 1990, the remaining band members met up to discuss the future of the group and decided to continue working together by auditioning for a new bass player. As Miles and Malcolm (finally) moved out of the flat in Regent's Park that they'd now occupied for almost a year, the group began preparing not only for the addition of a new bassist but also for a new single that Polydor wanted to release within the next couple of months...

Amicably, Bob has left The Wonder Stuff. The band have not split up. Martin Bell (the fiddle player with whom they work with) is now a full-time member and we will continue with a new bass player.

Love Martin, Miles, Martin, Malcolm.


Following the theme of previous years where the group had released a new track as a stop-gap between album releases, Polydor looked at some of the tracks that they had been presented with from the demos recorded at the end of the last year at Rockfield Studios. They settled on releasing 'Circlesquare', a track that had originally been premiered to viewers of the Rock Steady music programme (broadcast on some UK independent television channels) towards the end of the year when the group had played a one-off low-key show supporting Neds Atomic Dustbin in London. The B-side of the single 'Our New Song' was also taken from the Rockfield demo sessions and was one of the tracks which had been originally destined for the 'Luna Thug' EP.

Their choice of bonus track for the obligatory 12" and CD single releases wasn't so easy to decide upon though and it wasn't until the last minute that the final decision was made. On the demo tapes from the Rockfield sessions was a version of 'Circlesquare' that Miles, Malcolm and Pat (Collier) had come up with late one night (after a bit of alcohol had been consumed, naturally) using the services of a nearby drum machine. Their aim had been to see if they could come up with something comparable to that which was being produced by the then-current Manchester scene of The Stones Roses, Happy Mondays etc. In less than 90 minutes they came up with what is now known as the Paranoia Mix of 'Circlesquare' which they put onto a tape along with nine other new songs which had been recorded during these sessions. The tape was then distributed amongst family and close friends with a note asking them for their choice of which should be the additional track. After immensely favourable reaction to the remix from many of those who heard it, the Paranoia Mix was eventually decided upon and included on the 'Circlesquare' release.


By mid-March, plans for a replacement bass player were well under way. Auditions were held with one hopeful, which proved unsuccessful as he wasn't familiar with the band's back catalogue and then, a couple of weeks prior to 'Circlesquare' being released, the group announced details of Bob's replacement.

Paul Clifford was studying Media Studies at Liverpool University, was already familiar wit the band's music and had only recently left the Midlands after the group he was previously in, The Libertines, had split up. The lead singer of The Libertines (not to be confused with the later group fronted by drug-addled Pete Doherty) was Miles' brother Russ (credited on recordings as Russ Williams to avoid the media connecting him with Miles). The Libertines had previously their one (and only) 12" EP, 'Smith Is A Liar', in 1989.

Russ called Paul to see if he would be interested in coming down to Birmingham to rehearse with the group, which he was so came down as quickly as possible. Impressed by his rehearsal, and also not relishing the task of auditioning a further stream of hopefuls, Paul was offered to join the group for a trial period. As a warm up for him and also as an introduction for the fans, the group played two low-key gigs at Walsall's Junction 10. Despite the intentions for the groups to be quiet, simple affairs, things didn't go quite as planned when a hoard of Paul's friends and family also turned up to see him play packing the venue out. As it was, the erratic behaviour of the drum machine gave more cause for concern than Clifford's playing with the new bass player coping exceptionally well given the short time he was given to learn the set-list required.


Following the warm-up dates, the group took up an offer from The Mission's Wayne Hussey to tour Europe and America. Shortly before 'Circlesquare' had been released, Miles and Wayne had been talking about Bob's departure from the band and their plans to continue the group without him. Hussey had made the offer: "Come on holiday with us, we'll have a great laugh. You can be the support band, be as anonymous as you like, play all new songs if you want, get your line-up together and be a band again."  Now that Paul was onboard, the group used this opportunity for him to become more familiar with the live aspect of the songs, most of which have a new life when played live compared to their recorded counterparts.

The tour began in Utrecht at the end of March and saw the group playing a mixture of old songs and new tracks planned for their next album. During the break between the European and American dates, Miles got married to his girlfriend, Mary-Anne Hobbs - an NME journalist whom he had initially met back in 1989 when she interviewed him for Sounds magazine. It was then straight over to America to continue the tourdates. To promote the American leg of the tour, Polydor released an A4 press pack containing photographs and a biography of both bands in addition to a twelve track CD featuring six tracks by both groups.


Whilst the tour progressed in the States, Polydor released 'Circlesquare' at the end of April. The single reached No. 20 in the UK singles charts and the group were called upon to return to the UK for the recording of another Top Of The Pops performance. The single probably only served to confuse people in reality though. The recorded version of the track featured Bob on bass, as did the video for the single as it was recorded on the 'Hup' tour at the Brixton Academy in November 1989. The Top Of The Pops appearance featured Paul Clifford and then a video for the Paranoia remix of the single was also released as a result of Miles, Martin Gilks and Malc once again having one of those drunken ideas to record a video for the track themselves - this time in a small video booth in in London's Trocadero Circus!


Hello Miles, congratulations on two counts. One you know about, the second is this is a bloody fine dance record - even if it is slyly taking the piss with its 'Paranoia Mix' - from a bunch of bods who once went round smirking 'Who Wants To The Disco King?' Saw some divvy in Cambridge wearing a T-shirt with that slogan on. Gave him directions to the retard class.
Anyway, 'Circlesquare' kicks off with some '50s type BBC orchestration, a needle screeches across vinyl, an earth quake of a bassline erupts and in sarks Miles singing "Is that a smile that hangs beneath your nose?"

Full of tripped phasing and ripped guitars, this is a great song about, I think, not fitting. Like trying to stuff a circle into a square, funnily enough.

Jack Barron, New Musical Express


During the European and US tours with The Mission, Miles and Wayne struck up a particularly strong friendship. Some of the results of this friendship showed on The Mission's 1992 album, 'Masque'. One of the tracks on the album, 'Who Will Love Me Tomorrow' is very much in the vein of 'Golden Green' and a scan of the credits for the track reveals that the music was co-arranged by Wayne and Miles. However, one story tells that Wayne played the track to Miles one night when they were both slightly drunk. The next morning Miles was playing it back on his guitar when Wayne walked in and asked what it was he was playing, totally forgetting about the night before. Miles told Wayne that it was a track he had played to him the night before but Wayne couldn't remember having done this and credited the music to Miles. Miles is also referred to on another track on the album, 'Trail Of Scarlet', which is based on his revelation, on another drunken night (there's a trend here!), to Hussey that his (Wayne's) wife was secretly having an affair.


It was whilst on tour with The Mission that Clifford earned himself a nickname within the band. After finding out that he had secured the position of the Stuffies' new bass player, he allegedly went around proudly telling people - commonly young women (!) - of his new position and impending fame. Uncertain whether he was telling the truth or not, he found that they were very willing to pucker up for a kiss to give themselves a claim to fame - getting off with The Wonder Stuff's new bass player. The other members of the group felt that his new nickname of 'Snogger' was well deserved...

As the tour drew to a close, The Mission's guitarist announced his departure from the group which led to Malcolm temporarily being in two bands at the same time as he played with the Stuffies for their support act, went offstage for a while and then came back on again as part of The Mission's line-up intended, at the time, to remain until the end of the tour. However, with only a few dates remaining, Miles caught a serious throat infection which eventually saw the remainder of the dates cancelled.   It was pointed out at the time thought that it was rather ironic that The Wonder Stuff were helping The Mission through the departure of a founder member in the same way that The Mission had helped The Wonder Stuff in a similar situation only a few months previous. However, this situation only lasted for a brief period as the final few dates had to be abandoned altogether due to Miles catching a throat infection.


The Wonder Stuff, 1990

Upon their return to the UK, Miles and Wayne began working on a project that they had originally started talking about on the US tour. They wanted to stage an outdoor charity event in the Summer and began organising the Day Of Conscience concert, supporting causes such as Greenpeace, Friends Of The Earth, Amnesty International and Childline. The gig was planned to be held on August 25th at Clapham Common on the outskirts of London and feature both The Wonder Stuff and The Mission along with The Cure and All About Eve. It was also rumoured that former Led Zeppelin member Robert Plant was would join the line-up/  However, as various organisations (including beer companies seeking sponsorship deals and Sky TV who wanted exclusive television broadcasting rights to the event) became involved in the proceedings, Miles began to feel that the original intentions of the concert were "having the piss taken out of them" and was also vocally unhappy about the selection of the support acts. As a result, The Wonder Stuff pulled out of the gig although Tony Perrin, The Mission's manager, strongly disputed their claims. Shortly after this, but not linked in any way, the concert was scrapped altogether due to opposition from the neighbouring Wandsworth County Council led to Lambeth Council refusing to grant a license for the event.


In July, the group put out their first long-playing video release. Filmed during one afternoon in February at their legendary London flat shortly before their departure, 'Thirteen Appalling Promos' featured Miles, Malc & Martin sitting on a couch introducing the videos for all their singles to date, with the exception of 'It's Not True', and divulging titbits of information about each one. Three additional tracks were also featured; 'Cartoon Boyfriend' for it's promotional release in America, 'Piece Of Sky' and the Paranoia Mix of 'Circlesquare'.


When so many of these compilations are released with no thought whatsoever for theme or continuity - indeed, no thought for anything except making a quick profit - it's refreshing, not to say ironic, that the Stuffies of all people should have stumped up with 'Eleven Appalling Promos', a rich documentary of their promo activity to date. I say ironic because, as the title suggests, The Wonder Stuff are legendary in their loathing of videos and yet, here they are taking the time and effort not only to explain just why they consider they constantly fuck up in front of the camera, but also the circumstances which in turn scuppered each particular video.

Squatting on a sofa in some dingy basement, the camera and mike boom often in focus, Miles and his mates exude the hilariously cynical early Lennonesque attitude that pervades all their best songs as they painfully and wittily catalogue each disaster. Miles is sometimes absent from the vids, he says, because he threw a wobbler that day and walked out. There is much griping about six am starts and sitting around, half-arsed psychedelia and inappropriate make-up. There is much mourning over lost youthful looks, doubtless sacrificed at the altar of rock 'n' roll, and there is a touching farewell to Bob, The Bass Thing, who quit amid maximum confusion last year. And then there are the videos, almost all far better than the band would have us believe and some very good indeed. The earliest ones, their own efforts, are the most endearing. The exuberant live 'Unbearable' and the daft 'Give Give Give Me More More More' still come across as attractively over-excitable, Miles fast perfecting his mad killing stare and even the latter, less successful 'Who Wants To Be The Disco King?' and its ilk are fascinating in their failure once the circumstances have been explained.

Apart from the band's eight singles, we also get promos for the brilliantly twisted 'Cartoon Boyfriend (American video)', 'Circlesquare (Paranoia Mix)' and 'Piece Of Sky (Abandoned single release)' and, as a satire of the video business, we get the lads messing around with a camera in a pub, just to show how easy it is(n't). So, although there's no doubt it's our money they're after, at least we're not ripped off.

Steve Sutherland, New Musical Express

Although a quiet year for releases, the group played eight British gigs in the Summer, as part of the God Bless The Fuckin' Lot Of Us tour, before returning to the US to stage the gigs that they had been forced to postpone earlier in the year due to Miles' throat infection. Several new tracks were premiered throughout the UK tour and, in between dates, the group spent much of their time in London's Townhouse Studios demoing and recording tracks.

On each of their eight British dates, alongside the T-shirts, posters and other memorabilia, the obligatory tour merchandising stalls were also selling an album of demo material. 'The Boot Legged Groove Machine', a release on neither the Polydor label nor the band's own Far Out label, featured tracks recorded between the time of the formation of the group and the release period of 'The Eight Legged Groove Machine'. The roots of the first side are undeniably planted in the first few months of the group's formation, and the album effectively contains all the previously unreleased songs from their first few demo tapes. There's a certain rawness about Miles' voice, and some of the tracks hint unknowingly at future recordings - 'She's The Rain', after a bit of lyrical tampering, would eventually appear on the 'Wonderful Day' EP as 'Down Here'. By side two, they had got the hang of playing together as a group and some of the tracks could almost be good enough for proper release. Indeed, a few of them were considered for either inclusion on the first album or as B-side tracks for the single releases. There is also the chance to hear an early and very different version of the 'Hup' track, 'Golden Green'. The album was quickly bootlegged by a number of sources, with one version adding a handful of live material, recorded in Holland in 1988, to the end of the second side.


In September, Melody Maker and the NME published pictures taken at Rob Jones' wedding to Jessica at City Hall in New York. Having left the UK as soon as the group's Hometown Hoedown dates had finished, Rob had relocated to New York where he had taken on a job as manager of the Tower Records store in Manhattan. Rob and Jessica had been writing songs together for a number of months since moving to the US but he felt he needed to do something during the daytime whilst Jessica was out at work.


Towards the end of the year whilst concentrating on recording sessions for the new album, having been nominated for a Brit Award the group were approached by the organisers of the Awards ceremony to take part in a series of concerts to be held at London's Wembley Arena during January 1991 which were planned to be broadcast on National UK television - though they were eventually broadcast on a late-night slot on Sky TV. At the same time, the group also had a request from pupils at the Minsthorpe High School in Pontefract, Yorkshire to play at their school. A number of popular bands had already played there and the pupils thought they would try approaching the group to see if they would be interested.

Unable to to take part in both events, the group had to make a choice - play to 20,000 people in a stadium supporting The Cure or play to a couple of hundred people in a school hall with the school's in-house group as support. For Miles the decision was easy as he tried to imagine how he'd have felt if his favourite groups such as The Jam or The Clash had turned up at his school to play for them... Minsthorpe it was. The performance was also filmed and recorded by the group, with two tracks - 'Don't Let Me Down, Gently' and 'Room 410' - tentatively scheduled for release as B-sides of future singles.

The group were also approached by the Mean Fiddler organisation to headline a New Year's Eve party to be held in a giant marquee in London's Finsbury Park. Although never officially confirmed as playing, a promotional campaign for the gig indicated that The Wonder Stuff would be headlining the event. Annoyed at this and the fact that tickets would be costing in excess of 20, the group issued a statement to many of the local and national music publications refuting claims of their appearance. Referring to his plans for New Year's Eve, Miles said that the only way he would be leaving his house "would be if Slade and Wizzard were to play the local pub and it cost a couple of quid to get in."  Instead, they played a secret support slot to Ned's Atomic Dustbin at London's Astoria venue a couple of weeks before Christmas. Promoted as featuring "very special guests", Miles stormed on stage in darkness at the start, opening with "How the fuck are you? They call us The Wonder Stuff" before launching into a spectacular greatest hits-style set and ending with "We'd like to sincerely apologise for turning up tonight - for those of you who don't like us we're glad we've spoiled your night."


Starting 1991 in better shape than they had been in a year before, the group spent the first few months putting the finishing touches to their third album, to be titled 'Never Loved Elvis', though for many months the working title for the album had been 'Fuck Elvis'. During the American tour with The Mission, Miles had watched a documentary on Presley which had inspired this title. Later, a chance viewing of a Channel 4 documentary called 'Orchestra' found Miles watching director Simon Smith interviewing Dudley Moore and asking him "Were you ever interested in pop music at all?" To which Dudley replied, "No, no - never loved Elvis." The original plan was to have that sample starting the album but the idea was eventually dropped as it couldn't be suitably fitted into the album's opening track, 'Mission Drive'.


The Wonder Stuff, Size Of A Cow promo picThe first release from the album came in April 1991 when the group returned to the singles chart with 'The Size Of A Cow', peaking at No. 5 - their highest placing single as a group in their own right. The additional tracks, 'Radio Ass Kiss' on the seven inch, joined by 'Give Give Give Me More More More' on the 12" & CD single, were both recorded on the American leg of their 1990 tour with The Mission. Buyers of the 12" and CD singles were treated, rather ironically considering the title of the forthcoming album, to Miles' rendition of Presley's 'Jailhouse Rock' at the end of the title track. The video for the single earned the group a nomination on BBC TV's Going Live programme for Best Video of the Year and for the single's release in Australia, a limited edition run of yellow vinyl seven inch singles were pressed.

In conjunction with the single's release in the UK, Polydor also issued two promotional cassettes/CD's, 'Three From Three' and 'Five From Three' which between them highlighted a total of six tracks from the new album.

The group also announced plans for a series of UK live dates to promote the new album, one of which included playing to a 22,000 strong crowd at Bescot Stadium - home of Walsall Football Club. With the problems as previously mentioned about the Day Of Conscience and end-of-year Mean Fiddler gigs, the group had decided to hold their own mini festival as they hadn't been invited to play Reading and concerns over rioting the previous year had lead to the Glastonbury Festival being cancelled.