The Wonder Stuff
30 Goes Around the Sun
Words and Pictures by Phil Rose esq

I have always loved The Wonder Stuff and I’ve never sung the blues. Could I ever slate them? I’d rather catch something controversial and die.

Banff, Alberta

Thirty years ago I lived in Manchester having just escaped the rubble and shit of Swansea and I was looking for a way out of the slightly restrictive purist world of punk rock. The Subhumans and Crass were all well and good (very good) but I wanted more. I had found the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill and I knew that it was good (very good) and so I could see that rap and hip hop were a new arena of anger and attitude and that NWA could only be months away. But when I wandered into a weird old record store where a lot of outdated, spurned and unwanted albums could be bought at prices starting at 50p and I heard the woman stocking shelves with The 8 Legged Groove Machine and sniggering at the title and the owner letting her know that this was being touted as the best album of the eighties (not a high bar as it turned out) I knew it was worth a try so I shelled out a fairly high percentage of my giro on the thing and knew instantly that I had found one small island of beauty in a sea of Rick Astley, the Happy Mondays and Wham!

Not Not all of Canada is nice

What sets the Wonder Stuff apart from the drug addled or sparkly detritus of the eighties is hard to pinpoint but, as with so many of my favourite bands it lies as much or even more in the lyrics and the attitude than it does in the catchy, bouncy, unique sound. While the Wonder Stuff never went to the ‘fuck you’ or even the ‘You Love Us’ extreme there’s something lying there like a coiled snake of self regard which is so necessary for a band to truly steal their way into my heart.

A raven. Or maybe a crow.

And 30 Goes Around The Sun doesn’t fail me in this (self) regard. It’s not an album that will be an instant, solid, number one hit as The Eight Legged Groove Machine was or Generation Terrorists or Never Mind The Bollocks or Songs About Fucking but after play four of the album I knew it was here to stay.

Them bigger trees.

It’s not perfect. Every track has the violin which, while clearly a signature sound (Jesus Fucking Christ. Am I turning into a muso. ‘Signature Sound’ indeed. Shut up, Rose, you prick) I would be happy with maybe 20% less of it. But that’s perhaps the only thing I can bitch about. There’s definitely less of a party going on in 30 Goes Around The Sun than in earlier albums and there’s some sadness there too but there’s a depth that is as welcome as the shallowness I usually crave. It’s 65% old style Wonder Stuff and 37% new style Wonder Stuff. The extra 2% comes free, at least with the download. These proportions are good enough for me. So get this album or I will come round to your house and kick you. Hard. Miles needs a pension and it is our duty to make sure he gets it. He seems a lot more healthy than the likes of Lemmy and so we owe it to him to make him comfortable in his old age.

A photo taken the year the Wonder Stuff formed.

These seemingly irrelevant photos are of a trip to Canada my wife and I took and listened to this album on repeat until we loved it wholeheartedly. Well, I did. Lola still thinks the violin is annoying though she likes it over all. 30 Goes Around The Sun will always remind me of Alberta and that’s a good thing.

More predictable final image...

Phil Rose Esq