wonder stuff
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In my first year at the college radio station, practically everything felt like a discovery. It was as if I had been plopped down inside a magical mine of modern music and anywhere I swung my pickaxe was likely to reveal a glittering vein of tuneful, offbeat perfection. My personal knowledge base was limited enough that I couldn’t always accurately discern between material that was new versus that which was simply new to me, but that didn’t necessarily matter, as long as I was wise enough to speak carefully when the studio mic was turned on.

Still, I maintain a special affection for those acts who officially debuted at the radio station at about the same time as me. The U.K. band the Wonder Stuff released a couple singles before their first full-length arrived, in the latter half of 1988, but I’m not sure if those crossed the Atlantic. They certainly never made it into the glorious transmitter-equipped den of college rock I called home for five years. So when their debut album, The Eight Legged Groove Machine, hit our Heavy Rotation shelf, I was there to eagerly spin it, secretly relieved to have a band that put me on even experiential ground with my broadcast brethren. That it was rollicking affair, stacked with tracks perfectly suited for bursting into notice in the middle of a set, was a happy bonus.

Several months later, when the band’s sophomore release, Hup, hit the station, I was already an old hand. And the Wonder Stuff’s 1991 album, Never Loved Elvis — complete with a lead single ideally suited for our America’s Dairyland locale — allowed me to accurately claim I’d been listening to the band’s music for years. As proof, I’d retrieve their first album from the music library and confidently drop the needle on “Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More,” sagely intoning, “I know their new stuff is good, but you’ve got to hear this.”

I suspect that particular fandom journey was a common one for scruffy college radio kids like me, especially in the era before digital connectivity put access to new music as close as an ever-present handheld communication device. I can get nostalgic about plenty of things from my student broadcasting days, but few match the extended evolution of knowledge about the bands that meant little to practically anyone outside our rarefied cultural sphere.

Listen or download —> The Wonder Stuff, “Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More”

(Disclaimer: For some reason, I’m always especially flummoxed in my attempts to discern the availability of older Wonder Stuff releases, at least as physical objects that can be procured from your favorite local, independently owned record store in a manner that compensates both the proprietor of said shop at the original artist. Regardless, my sharing of this track should be viewed as encouragement to commerce that supports musicians and record store owners and personnel, not as a replacement for such capitalistic interaction. Although I feel I’m adhering to the legal principle of fair use, I do know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove this file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by an individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)

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