1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 76

If The Beatles Had Read Hunter… The Singles, by The Wonder Stuff
Suggested by Mike Major

Unless I’m mistaken, this is the first Best Of compilation I’ve hit in the project so far.

That’s fine, of course. I made no real provisos when I set this up. And a number of the albums I’ve reviewed so far have fallen into the “singles band” woodpile, where maybe a Best Of compilation would have netted them a higher score that they landed.

Nevertheless, a Best Of compilation must be judged to a higher standard than your common-or-garden album release. Yes, you lose a little of the band’s artistic vision when you’re listening to a marketing exec’s curated list of bangers, but those bangers are still bangers when all’s said and done.

If The Beatles Had Read Hunter has a pair of legitimate bangers, so let’s get those off the table.

The Wonder Stuff’s number one single, Dizzy, credited as Vic Reeves and The Wonder Stuff, is an infectious and comedic track that’s a perfect slice of Nineties cheese. Vic Reeves was untouchable at that time, certainly amongst the student set that The Wonder Stuff sound would appeal to. On a personal note, this was tied with For Whom The Bell Tolls as my favourite song to play in my first band, Scooby Doo (and the Mystery Machine).

The second true banger is Size Of A Cow, which takes my vote as the best song on the album. This is the perfect showcase for Miles Hunt’s considered yet oddball lyrics. As usual, the song structure is a perfect three-minute morsel of rock-pop that builds to a very catchy chorus. Some songs I christen Eternal Earworms, in that they slide into your mental DMs at any point your life from the moment you first hear them until the day you die. Size of a Cow is one of those, and I’ve found myself unwittingly humming it on many inopportune occasions.

If The Beatles Had Read Hunter has a host of other great tracks, the majority of which I do recall fondly from their time in the charts. Welcome to the Cheap Seats and It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby are particular highlights, but I was toe-tapping along with the majority of this.

The Wonder Stuff are the quintessential Nineties sound, sending you right back into you closet for your Doc Martins, Stonewash Jeans and Flannel Shirt. Their pop rock channels folk and country at times, and they come over like the fun and tipsy uncle of the Levellers, letting his hair down at a family wedding.

This compilation serves as a monument to a strong early career, and as such it deserves a decent score. I’ll rate this at 7/10, with a full minus-one given for its Best Of status.

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