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The Wonder Stuff – 'Upstaged: A Live Anthology. 1987 – 2016' (7 Disc Boxset)

There has always been something to The Wonder Stuff live that is unexplainable, but their gigs are something else. They can’t be compared to any other band I know, even the bad gigs (and there have been some) are good. This anthology tells a story of the band through their live sets, how they have improved and honed their craft. Basically it’s a set of bootlegs but you know, decent sound quality and not bought from a dodgy bloke on Camden Market.

Miles has spent an awful lot of time and money on this box set and it shows. The artwork, the construction of the set, the inner sleeves for the CDs are all beautiful touches. The fact that it is selling for about £30 is amazing. Total value for money. I’m currently listening to disc two which is 1988 and already the band have their sound which has stayed with them right up to this day. It sounds like a different Wonder Stuff from their 1987 disc. 'Ruby Horse' shows off the urgency of the music, 'Unbearable' (acoustic) sounds gorgeous (and is often again something they do all these years later). 'Ten Trenches Deep' is probably my favourite live song of theirs, it sounds massive and the band always looks like they are having a blast playing it.

Many of the songs are repeated throughout the anthology but it is great to hear them as it shows how much they have altered over the years and become the songs I love today. I’m finding it quite hard not to be a total fan boy over this release; I will however note that I’ve got a stupid grin all over my face listening to it. It’s not hard listening to these CDs to see how I was obsessed with The Wonder Stuff during my teens and probably still (I like to think I’ve mellowed a bit). I’m frustrated as I can’t put my finger on why they are so good, I’ve known it for so long and having to describe it now is damned near impossible, maybe you’ll just have to trust me?

As Miles says in his liner notes this anthology stands as a testament to a band that has all but been written out of history. It’s a fine tribute to a band that is as on fire now as they were all those years ago. I could go on forever about each track and why I love them, dissect them and explain the way they have evolved but I suspect that would end up as a book and you would all be bored stupid. Suffice to say that 'Upstaged' is at the very least value for money; to me it’s perfect, now I get to have a gig whenever I want. Basically what I’m telling you is buy this box set, thank me later!

Review - Andrew Forcer

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