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In The Beginning...
Mar 1986 to Sept 1988
Oct 1988 to Dec 1989
Jan 1990 to Apr 1991
May 1991 to Jan 1992
Feb 1992 to Aug 1993
Sept. 1993 to Feb 1994
Mar 1994 to Nov 1994
Dec 1994 to Dec 1999
Jan 2000 to Dec 2000
Jan 2001 to Dec 2003
Jan 2004 to Dec 2004
Jan 2005 to Dec 2005
Jan 2006 to Apr 2006
May 2006 to Oct 2006
Nov 2006 to
Sept 2008
Oct 2008 to Sept 2009
Oct 2009 to Dec 2010
Jan 2011 to Dec 2011
Jan 2012 to Feb 2015

In Memoriam
Rob Jones
Martin Gilks

September began with the group preparing for 'On The Ropes' - their first single release in nearly 18 months. In a bid to gain popularity in America, Polydor bought in Samuel Bayer (of Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' fame) to direct the video. Despite having a reasonable following in the US, there was still a lot of work to be done for the group to claim to be big in America. Everything that Bayer was involved with seemed to be lapped up by MTV and, in a nation where nearly every home has access to the channel, the move to bring in someone who had the power to boost their popularity via the television medium was all important.

The Wonder Stuff promotional photo, 1993As if to highlight Polydor's attempts to breakthrough the American market, the total cost of producing this one video amounted to more than the cost of rehearsing and recording the entire fourth album - including the lease of the studio complex as well!

In conjunction with the release of the single, Polydor also distributed two promotional CD's. The first was a six track compilation featuring 'Welcome To The Cheap Seats', 'Unbearable', 'Don't Let Me Down, Gently', 'Who Wants To Be The Disco King', 'Circlesquare' and 'The Size Of A Cow'. The second, a sampler for the forthcoming album entitled 'Construction For The Modern Idiot', featured 'On The Ropes' and 'I Wish Them All Dead' plus new tracks, 'Hot Love Now!' and 'Hush'.

With the decision on track listings and running order finally decided upon, there was now a bigger problem - the artwork. Proof copies of the CD were pressed and distributed to the band and their management team which showed the front picture as a conventional band photograph, taken underneath palm trees in America earlier in the year. However, upon seeing it, the group had some objections to the design and alternative artwork had to be looked for.

The eventual decision was to continue the theme of images used for the sleeve inlays of schoolchildren in various lessons though the group were just as unhappy with this solution. However, deadlines had to be met and the new design had to stay though the change was made too late for promotional purposes and adverts for the album in the music press featured the 'palm trees' picture. Some CD copies of the album were also pressed before the design change which somehow found their way out of the manufacturing plant into British record shops and were quickly snapped up by collectors.

The album was released at the start of October, one week later than originally planned due to the sleeve changes. Unlike 'Never Loved Elvis', the album had a fuller and more mature sound - Miles had wanted to use electric guitars more and Fiddly, fed up with comments about the Waterboys influence of the last album, had played many of his instruments through a set of Marshall stacks. To create an atmosphere for the album, Miles created a character called The Modern Idiot - someone who symbolised everything that he hated; entertainment, trivia, the changing face of music, the re-election of the government and environmental issues - and employed this persona for the intro to the first track on the album.

The Wonder Stuff, 1993 (from The Zine magazine 10/93)The album itself was a major advance on anything else they'd ever done before - with the exception of the 'Size Of A Cow'-like 'Cabin Fever' and the eventual appearance of 'Sing The Absurd'. A horn section was used for the first time on 'Hot Love Now!' (dedicated to Diana Dors and Alan Lake) and Miles' alcohol-inspired 'A Great Drinker' also made it's appearance towards the end of the running order. Dedicated to Charles Bukowski in the sleeve notes, the track sees the Stuffies attempting a new musical style - blues - during which Miles coughs, splutters, lights cigarettes and tells the story of his booze-fuelled antics.

An unlisted track appears at the end of 'Sing The Absurd' on the CD and some copies of the cassette, 'Something For Sammy' - dedicated to the American comedian Sam Kinison. However, for owners of the 'palm trees' sleeved CD which, incidentally, was still being used on German, Australian and Japanese copies of the album, the track is listed on the sleeve at the back of the CD case, but there is still no mention of it elsewhere in the inlay or on the CD.

Ironically, for everything about the country that the group seemed to dislike, it was America that inspired a large amount of the songs on the album - notably 'I Wish Them All Dead' with its US paedophile connection and 'Cabin Fever' which was loosly based upon a track written during a three week promotional trip to the States in 1991, when Miles heard an advert for the Interflora flower company involving two OAP's arguing about frozen stringbeans and started to pen a track titled 'So Honey We Don't Mention The Stringbeans Anymore'.

Another track on the album, 'Hush' (written around the same time as 'Cabin Fever'), concentrated on Miles' 25th birthday for which the group's American manager, Steve Rennie, arranged for them all to see Guns N' Roses in concert. As Miles says, "I got really drunk, sat in my seat in an audience of, what, 14,000 people and Guns N' Roses were just horrible. I just found myself looking at the audience and thinking: I've spent three weeks prostituting the band in an attempt to sell ourselves to an American audience. And here's a gig so vile... I started to spit on people. In the end, Steve and Mary Anne dragged me off and I sat in a corner sobbing, because I thought the whole trip had been pointless."


It's been a long time since the last album. Maybe I've forgotten what to expect - but while Miles and Co. may not think it's remarkably different, I do. Glorious brass sections; fiddles laid down in favour of something more guitar-orientated - this is undoubtedly a change of mood...

Initially, I couldn't decide whether it was a stroke of genius or a sell-out; albeit an uncomplacent one. Look at 'Hot Love Now'. The Stuffies - leading lights of the infamous rough and ready Stourbridge contingent, who gave us brash, footstomping odes we could swig beer to - coming out with a smooth, polished little number laced with horn and trumpet... Come to think of it, why didn't they do it sooner? - it's cracking.

First fears pushed aside, it becomes obvious that this is something rather special. Only 'Cabin Fever' harks back to pre-Idiot Stuff - and it just so happens to be a stormer in true 'Size Of A Cow' mode.

Miles' lyrics are less quirky, more reflective, more conscious, more inspired (have a listen to 'Full Of Life'). His voice couldn't be better. He pushes himself to the limits. Never have we heard such power and passion.

Through the bright hard-pop of 'Swell', the bluesy 'A Great Drinker', and the epic 'Sing The Absurd', the traditional Stuffies exuberance remains evident; yet underneath it's moody, intense and brooding. If you haven't done so, pack away the tartan and the frilly shirts - this album, dark yet not sinister, has no place for them. Miles and the boys are still pissed off with the shit-tip that is life, and with the time-wasters who add to its enormity.

'Hup' hit the number five slot, 'Elvis' made number three - this album deserves to get to the very top. Many people love the Stuffies; some loathe them so much it hurts. No-one can fail to acknowledge just how impressive The Wonder Stuff have become.

Di Lambert, The Zine

The album charted highly in its first few weeks of release, but then dropped quickly. Reviews for it were mixed. Some liked the new sound, others accused them of selling out to the mainstream pop scene. Despite hopes for a successful release, the album flopped in America. Die-hard fans lapped it up, but relationships between the group and the American side of the Polydor label were strained - they'd been at loggerheads since the beginning of 1992 and things were getting worse. The label basically didn't want to know about them, they couldn't be bothered to do much, if any, promotion of the group or their material, but wouldn't release them from their contract knowing full well that there were labels such as A & M who were eager to sign them.


Shortly after the album's release, the band embarked on a new tour with a special warm-up gig at London's Astoria Theatre on October 28th. Playing a set of exclusive material from the new album, the show was filmed for broadcast by ITV's The Beat programme which was shown across the UK during November and December. Along with an interview with Miles, a total of six songs were showcased.

The Idiot Manoeuvres Tour officially began on November 3rd in Stockholm, stopping off the following night at the Rockefeller in Oslo. Broadcast on the National radio station, the show was later the subject of two bootleg CD's and premiered the new set-list to the majority of the band's large fanbase - including a rearranged version of the 'Hup' track '30 Years In The Bathroom', revived for the first time in almost three years, and now boasting a new fiddle solo. Oddly, despite being bootlegged from the same broadcast, there are some differences in the track listing of the bootleg CD's though they still both play the same tracks.

Paul Clifford promoting Elite guitar stringsLater that month, 'Full Of Life (Happy Now)' was released on a four track EP as the follow-up single to 'On The Ropes'. Possibly the highlight of the EP was the inclusion of their excellent cover of the Indigo Girls' 'Closer To Fine', one of Miles' favourite tracks, which had previously only been heard at the solo acoustic sets he had staged in America. However, a snippet of the song is featured as the backing track to one of the scenes in the 'Welcome To The Cheap Seats' video where they talk to DJ and close friend, Matt Pinfield - who also appears in the video as a reporter called Sol Rosenberg.

For CD buyers, an additional disc was released which showed the group working in a new vein - the dance remix. The title track on the second disc (subtitled as the 'Dignity Mix') was remixed by top producers Rollo and Rob D and contained a new gospel-sounding backing behind a newly re-recorded vocal by Miles. The other tracks on the disc were dub mixes of 'Change Every Light Bulb' and 'I Wish Them All Dead'. A French promotional one track version of the single was also released featuring an exclusive edited version of the Dignity Mix.

These two dub versions came from a batch of five remixes which Miles allegedly organised. Initially, the group had re-worked another of the 'Construction...' tracks, 'Swell' for inclusion on the eighth instalment of Demon Records' 'Volume' compilation CD's. The idea for this mix came after Malc had been listening to an instrumental version of Generation X's 'Wild Youth' called 'Wild Dub'. After taking a recording of the track into the Greenhouse recording studios for the others to listen to, they then decided to try to produce something with similar effects and sound.

Two other tracks were also given the remix treatment, 'Hush' and 'Storm Drain', though these have never yet been released commercially.


The Wonder Stuff, 1993 (Autographed)

With the group electing not to play in the UK until after they had visited Europe and America, the band's only end-of-year UK appearance was at the recording of a session for satellite music channel MTV's Most Wanted programme during which they played acoustic versions of 'Full Of Life (Happy Now)' and 'Sing The Absurd'.


After a short break for the Christmas and New Year period, the group reconvened for the next leg of the Idiot Manoeuvres world tour at Seattle's Moore Theatre on February 1st. The tour - marred by Miles' long-standing love/hate relationship with the country - proceeded to continue across the United States for the next four weeks.

Feeling that the European tour had not gone well, things swiftly got worse - an entry in Hunt's tour diary for the night of the Seattle gig marked further dissatisfaction with the state of affairs: "Another car park before another stage. On with the pretence." By Vancouver, only two nights into the tour, things had deteriorated even further. Miles had considerably cut down on his drinking but his tour diary said it all: "I was really disappointed at myself on that second night, when I said to Nipper (guitar tech) halfway through the gig, 'Get us a bottle of wine will you, because I'm so bored!'"

Miles Hunt in Alcatraz Prison, February 1994Further unhappiness came to light in an article for Q Magazine in which Miles was interviewed whilst on a visit to San Francisco's infamous Alcatraz prison - the main picture for the feature showing Miles sitting on the floor in a prison cell, not looking the happiest of people. "I feel like we're flogging a dead horse here," he was reported as saying. "I don't think we should be here now. I've had countless arguments with management and record company over this. They said it would be 'commercial suicide' not to tour this album in America, and my answer was: it can't get any worse."

The worst selling album of their career in the US, the band became resigned to the fact that they wouldn't be breaking into big-time in the States just yet. Miles recalls how "one of the morons from the label in New York was talking to a friend of mine the other day - he didn't know he was a friend of mine - and he said 'I just don't get that group.' And yet I've stood with this bloke countless times and he's said, 'Great album! Love it! Love it!'" He continued by saying, "I pray every time we make an album: Please, America, don't release it. Because if they don't release it within three months then we're free. But they always release it, because someone somewhere has said, 'They do alright in England, we can't let them go, we might look like idiots.'"

Two days later, in Toronto, Miles spoke to Caitlin Moran of Melody Maker: "I fucking hate being here, I resent every fucking minute of it. The people we have to deal with here, Polydor America, are shit-for-wits and I would willingly jump on their graves, but they're not dead yet. Give me a shovel and I'll start digging in preparation... I know my contract inside out, I know the exact fucking paragraph that says 'We will do our utmost to promote and exploit the music of The Wonder Stuff' and they haven't kept their side of the bargain, and I think it's fucking unfair... The amount of time I've spent on this tour sitting in car parks surrounded by kids asking why we don't play here more often - the reason is I hate the fucking country and I hate the people I have to deal with. They're all apathetic wankers... Anyway, I'll be over all this when I get back home. This is my Complaint of the Week."

He also began to air his dissatisfaction with the music of the band publicly. "I like the bits between the songs. I don't get any enjoyment from playing my guitar in front of people any more. The only thing I like at the moment is thinking of stupid things to say between songs."

In parallel with his change of heart during the recording of 'The Eight Legged Groove Machine' - when he felt that he'd "rather be making Shamen records - 'Jesus Loved America' and 'Knature Of A Girl', not fucking 'Love is like a merry go round'" - when asked what he wanted to be doing now, he replied "I want to be making 'Ich Bin Ein Auslander' by Pop Will Eat Itself."