Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
Sometimes people neglect or worse forget the music that calls The Midlands its home as if the area never produced anything of note. There is no rhyme or reason to this as whether it is the Black Country streets of Wolverhampton, the gentle market town of Stourbridge, the old industrial heartlands of Birmingham or to the East Coventry and every port of call in between, The Midlands is responsible for arguably the best popular music to come out of England that doesn’t have the Mersey River feeding its musical life blood. Whether it is E.L.O., Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, The Specials, Jeff Lynne, Duran Duran, Magnum, Black Sabbath or Dexy’s Midnight Runners, The Midlands has contributed so much to music and so have one of the finest out of the region, The Wonder Stuff.
So many albums down the line, so many great tracks and now there is a new album to add to the list, Oh No It’s…The Wonder Stuff. The album contains an abundance of songs that hit the conscious hard, makes the heart jive in delight and wanton abandonment and is impossible to turn away from. After all why would you want to ignore the great song-writing of Miles Hunt, Fuzz Townsend, Steve Wyatt, Mark McCarthy and Erica Nockalls, the splendid and driven way that the songs are weaved together and given that little bit of Midlands amour that just wants to make you give the album a huge cuddle and hug it tight, promising to never let it go.
The music is upbeat; you wouldn’t expect less, and has that something extra as the splendid violin of Erica Nockalls creeps through the electrifying sounds supplied by the four men to give it a wonderful feminine sound, soft, gentle and full of heart-breaking elegance, something that Miles Hunt hangs some beautiful and honest lyrics upon. From the opening track of Clean Through The Years, the album becomes one long foot tapping experience, a desire to dance notwithstanding, it also deals out the musical equivalent of a gentle prod to the mind to get busy enjoying life whilst understanding that everyone should be in that enjoyment, not just a select few.
The delightful Friendly Company, From the Midlands With Love, the genuine decency and obvious affection of Right Side of the Turf and the corking Be Thy Name give the recording its natural and rich sound and amongst some of the great tracks made by the band in the history.
For lovers of music from The Midlands there are also 10 bonus tracks on offer to get to grips with, songs that the band have covered in homage to the home of some of the great songwriters of their time including a sensational version of The Move’s Blackberry Way, Duran Duran’s Planet Earth and Slade’s Far Far Away. If one C.D. full of outstanding songs wasn’t enough, to record a second is nothing short of fantastic. A charming embrace of music from the centre of the country, the area that rivalled Merseyside in the 60s and to this day still gives a grateful nod to its musical sister whenever they meet.
Oh No It’s…The Wonder Stuff, more like Oh please give us one more song, an album you will never regret buying.
Ian D. Hall