Book review: ‘The Wonder Stuff Diaries 86-89’ by Miles Hunt

The Wonder Stuff

The Wonder Stuff in their early days, with Miles Hunt on the right

Wonder Stuff frontman Miles Hunt serves up volume one of his memoirs, and they make for a very enjoyable read

The Wonder Stuff Diaries 86--89roadly speaking, music biz memoirs fall into two categories. The first type, best avoided, are vain-glorious ‘look at me!’ efforts by X Factor winners, boyband members and their ilk, scribbled hastily by ghostwriters and rushed out to cop a few Xmas stocking-filler sales before their subjects’ stars inevitably fade. The other type – the good type – are brutally honest ‘I was there’ accounts along the lines of Keith Richards’ Life, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt’s XS All Areas or Horace Panter’s hilarious Ska’d For Life… all of which are well worth a peruse, by the way.

Happily, this first volume of recollections by The Wonder Stuff frontman Miles Hunt falls into the latter category. Hunt, we discover, kept diaries throughout the Black Country greboes’ heady early days, and those diaries form the backbone of this book, with Hunt’s own latterday recollections, reminiscences and clarifications interspersed as an accompaniment. The result is a book that’s an essential purchase for any Wonder Stuff fan… but also worthwhile reading for anyone with an interest in the 80s indie/alternative scene, or indeed anyone who’s ever been in an aspiring band.

For readers in the former camp, Diaries 86-89 is packed full of fascinating trivia: did you know, for instance, that the pink and green colour scheme for the Unbearable sleeve was chosen as a tribute to The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead? Or that to create the band’s wonkily-lettered logo, Hunt and his girlfriend cut out individual printed letters, stuck them onto the curved surface of a wine bottle and photocopied the results? You do now. For readers in the latter camp, meanwhile, tales of broken down vans, grotty B&Bs, dodgy promoters and the sheer excitement of finally getting a record out, hearing your song on the radio or going on TV for the first time will be all too familiar. Hell, it’s worth picking up for Miles’s memories of the band’s first encounter with Zodiac Mindwarp’s road crew alone!

Verdict: Highly recommended for all who’ve ever visited Red Berry Joy Town

Russell Deeks

The Wonder Stuff Diaries 86-89 is out now, published by IRL, priced £30

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