Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Wonder Stuff: The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine (20th Anniversary Edition)

I first became acquainted with The Wonder Stuff when Jim passed me a copy of their debut album, The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine, nearly 20 years ago. I was completely blown away by the groups combination of raw musical energy with the sly intelligence of their lyrics. I could tell that this was a band that was hungry for success, but would be doing it on their own terms. If you want to know where Oasis stole all their style and attitude from, check out some early clips of The Wonder Stuff and prepare to weep.

The Summer of 1989 proved to be a great one, and The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine provided the soundtrack for much of it. I listened to The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine until the cassette I had recorded it on wore out. I can remember popping it into the deck of the car I was assigned to for driver's training and the burn-outs in the back seat saying how it sounded like pop/punk fusion (but it needed to be LOUDER!!!) and how they could get into it after a few drinks.

Nothing good can come from rehashing former glories. It's like going out drinking with your old college buddies. Sure, it's fun to talk about the old days, but you soon find that you can't drink nearly as much as you used to and that you can't stay up nearly as late as you used to. Plus, when you eventually wake up the next day, through the haze of a nagging hangover, you have to wonder why the hell you tried to relive the old days in the first place. Twenty years after its release, The Wonder Stuff decided to re-record their debut album. I feel a massive hangover coming on.

The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine (20th Anniversary Edtion) is certainly very listenable, but it is only inevitbale that it will draw comparisons to the original. The lyrics are as witty as ever and are sung with the same "devil may care" attitude. The music is pretty well polished but lacks that certain hunger that the band exhibited during the recording of the first version of the album. The band sounds too comfortable. The album essentially sounds a lot like a well produced live album rather than an attempt to re-interpret a classic recording. Something is obviously missing, like getting together with all of your old college buddies and finding that the craziest one of the bunch couldn't make it because his wife was being a total bitch.

It's not that this version is bad. It's actually very listenable. I just have to wonder what the point is. It doesn't improve upon the original in any way and will probably not go a long way towards increasing the band's fan base. I guess that I could see it as a valentine to the fans, but don't we deserve something that had a little more thought put into it?


  1. Wow, the Wonderstuff. There's a name I haven't heard in ages. Now I'm going to have to find my copy of 8 Legged Groove Machine and listen to it again. If my memory serves me well (which it doesn't always do) I may have even seen them in concert. I actually even have a promotional roll of Wonderstuff toilet paper. Ah, those were the days.


  2. I saw them a few times, the most recent being in 2005