1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 352

Never Loved Elvis, by The Wonder Stuff
Suggested by Mike Wootton

When you marry in Las Vegas, you’re open to interesting conversations.

One of the more innocuous begins with a stereotypical comment, something like “nice work, convincing your other half that a quickie wedding in Las Vegas was the sensible choice.” This profligates the notion that women, given opportunity to plan their wedding, invariably mutate into Bridezillas, demanding outlandish extravagance at every turn, roaring in anger and agony if the bespoke centrepieces aren’t the exact shade of cerulean blue. I happily debunk this with the fact that it had long been Sarah’s rock and roll dream to wed in Vegas, and my sideline as a card player was merely a happy coincidence.

But by far the most popular question posted at couples tying the knot in Vegas is “are you getting married by Elvis?”

Even though it was never on the table, Sarah vetoed a King-officiated ceremony immediately. She’s never loved Elvis. In fact, as a child she feared Elvis, instinctively knowing that something was amiss, with his hair and his paunch and his shoes of blue suede. Alas, if only young Sarah had used her powers for good, on Rolf Harris or Jimmy Savile. Then again, as an adolescent Michael Jackson fan it’s safe to say she was largely hit and miss.

Apparently, The Wonder Stuff have also Never Loved Elvis, as their third and legitimate breakthrough album can attest. Originally a taught thirteen tracks, its 2000 reissue is a sprawling, seventeen-track epic, housing two electric singles in Welcome to the Cheap Seats and Size of a Cow.

Some two hundred and eighty albums ago, I reviewed If The Beatles Had Read Hunter, the band’s de facto Best Of compilation album. Then, I lauded Size of a Cow as my standout song, and it’s patently the best on offer here too. I’ve always viewed bands like The Wonder Stuff as singles practitioners, more through a lack of investigation on my part than through any actual evidence. Would this title stand up to scrutiny once I’m faced with an actual studio album release?

Happily, I can attest that The Wonder Stuff have a lot more to offer than a towering chart-topper and a gaggle of Top Forty hits.

Every song on this album is catchy. Every song has the signature lyrical frippery of Miles Hunt. Every song is exciting, nuanced and enjoyable. From the opening summer breeze of Mission Drive to the intriguing and almost clandestine spy-chic of Donation, to the delightful jangle-pop of Caught in my Shadow, the band refuse to sit still and decline to serve up anything boring or bland. My not-Size-of-a-Cow standout is 38 Line Poem, the album’s closing song and likely the largest sound they make on this and any other album.

There’s a single splinter in the eyelid, however. While I’m drawn to Miles Hunt’s signature vocal, there’s no denying that he can come over as overbearingly smug, so buyer beware. Being churlish, I’d also say that the cover of That’s Entertainment, while enjoyable, is superfluous to requirements, but as it’s a reissue track I can’t judge too harshly.

Never Loved Elvis scores a fine 7/10. My love for it may not be the size of a cow, but it’s certainly the size of a large pig or middling sheep.

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