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Suspended By Stars
Suspended By Stars

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miles and co's tracks of the trade signal stellar return, 22 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Suspended By Stars (Audio CD)
After all the criticism that went with the last long player (was it a 'proper Wonder Stuff album' or just a Miles Hunt project with the Stuffies badge badly sewn on etc), this outing sees the four official members bedding down and delivering something that amounts to at least a partial 'return to form'.
From the rousing opening number, 'Tricks of the Trade', it's clear that this is more the result of a band pulling in the same direction again and sharing ideas as a unit but still with the unmistakeable Hunt hallmarks. The first half of the album barely hits a duff note; standout tracks in the form of the aforementioned opener, the first single 'Blah Blah La Di Dah', the punchy 'Say it Ain't So' and the gorgeous, reflective 'The Sun Goes Down on Manor Road' invoke thoughts of "Stuffies classics in the making". These tracks could be from any era really and are bound to feature in setlists for a while to come, sitting perfectly amongst the old favourites. Tricks of the Trade and Manor Road especially, are about as infectious as anything they have ever done. In a nutshell, it starts off sounding like a Wonder Stuff album should (it's mixed better than the last one too): lyrics and tunes up to scratch (Angelica Maybe is a minute or two too long perhaps, but patience folks - Miles has another story to tell), a fuller sound (helped by Erica Nockalls' excellent violin playing) and you find yourself asking if the second half of the album can get any better!
The answer, sadly, is no. Much of what is left isn't up to the standard of the first few tracks; even though they do improve with repeated listens, there isn't quite the musical exhileration and bite of the opening barrage of songs. Even the great albums contain the odd filler but perhaps the tracklisting could have been slightly better? It's a minor gripe, all things considered as - on the whole - this is better than anything Mr Hunt and co have delivered in absolutely ages! Many early reports (talking about actual fans, not two-bit industry hacks) summed it up that there's something for everyone on this album. That's not far off the mark.
The best way to approach this album, however, is as the first proper offering from the Wonder Stuff as they are now; with the 'new boys' Mark and Andres as much a part of the group as old hands Miles and Malc; all mucking in and making this better than a lot of the rubbish out there. Many bands would take twice as long to come up with something half this good. So, this time, accept it - this IS The Wonder Stuff. And they're sounding pretty great to me. Maybe the definitive Stuffies album is still yet to come...

Escape From Rubbish Island
Escape From Rubbish Island
Price: £12.39

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to Work and Stuff the detractors, 4 Oct. 2004
Perhaps the two fingered salute the man on the cover (a Mr Miles Hunt) is giving us is a signal of the remaining members of the 'classic' Wonder Stuff line-up - something that has caused a debate to rage in the former 'official' website's message board; more likely it is a succinct 'f-off' to 'Rubbish Island' (dear old Blighty, no less) as per the title. For this album (argued - wrongly - by some to be merely a Hunt solo project tarted up under the Stuffies banner in a cynical ploy to boost sales, reeks of the singer's current major issue. That issue is his desire to leave these shores for a better life away from a country that has not just 'gone to the dogs' but been savagely chewed up out of all recognition. It's a relevant bugbear to have and thank the Lord that Hunt still has issues. It reeks good!
So, what of the actual content. Well, it's a concise 38 minutes and very much a 'back-to-basics' exercise in comparison to their last 2 of 3 albums, the last of which was as long ago as '93 before they split up and then came back (strictly for gigs only, until this year). Gone are the fiddles and mandolins (at least for now) and you could argue that it's '8 Legged Groove Machine' all grown up. With Hunt and trusty Malc Treece firmly to the fore and former Radical Dance Faction man Mark McCarthy on bass, it begins very well indeed and all is once again marvellous. The album's title track leads us in and we're back on familiar territory; a rollicking tune with Hunt's trademark ascerbic lyrics. Other standout tracks that will go down a storm live (and boy is it time we had something new to 'mosh' to!) are the first single 'Better Get Ready for a Fistfight' and 'Back to Work', as catchy as anything the band has ever recorded and with smart lyrics to boot. Elsewhere, the moody 'Another Comic Tragedy' and closer 'Love's Ltd' are just 2 tracks that deal with fading relationships, but do it well and don't outstay their welcome. Not all the songs appear to have a chorus, but when they do, then it IS a chorus! With bells on. Hunt has clearly rediscovered his knack for writing a good tune as well as lyric. It's only on the primative 'Head Count' where things get far too broody for anyone's good and the word 'filler' comes to mind.
All things considered, this is as worthy as anything Hunt and co have committed to disc and hopefully signals a permanent return to recording as well as playing live. They may not win many new fans but the old ones (and they're a sizeable and loyal bunch) should enjoy the majority of 'Rubbish Island'; there is much to smile about. As for getting back on Top of the Pops, two fingers indeed!

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