Pat Collier was a member of the Vibrators, one of the earliest British pop-punk bands in the late-’70s. As the ’70s became the ’80s Collier turned to recording, owning and operating the Greenhouse Studio in London, and over the course of working with dozens of young bands he developed Collier’s Corollary.
Collier’s Corollary explains what young bands have: “When you are a kid, you can tell what’s cool and not cool because your peer group is essentially the market for pop music. When you’re too close to the music business, or have been in it for too long, you lose the ability to have a gut reaction to something.”
Collier’s work with the Wonder Stuff illustrates these points aptly.
The Eight Legged Groove Machine, the Stuffies 1988 debut, is full of all the snarling punk bravado one could expect from a quartet of Birmingham youths. Collier captures the energy and flinty soul of the band (led by Miles Hunt’s surly, savory vocals) with clean, immediate production. “Red Berry Joy Town” and “No, For the 13th Time” kick where it hurts. The cynical, jaded “It’s Money I’m After, Baby” sounds like the Clash of Give ‘Em Enough Rope. Groove Machine is an unambiguous classic.
The band’s next, Hup, was still smoking, adding Martin Bell’s fiddle and banjo, and James Taylor’s organ to diversify the sound. “Radio Ass Kiss” and “Don’t Let Me Down, Gently” are standouts. Though the group never even charted in the U.S., they were superstars in Britain by their third album, Never Loved Elvis, produced by Mick Glossop.
Collier returned for Construction For the Modern Idiot, but by 1993, the angry young punks had become listless pop stars and the bloom was way off the rose. The band broke up soon thereafter, and Miles became a host for MTV Europe. Heh.
I interviewed Miles twice in the early-’90s and he was just a flat-out prick: supercilious, rude, bored, dreadful. He put on a good show, though. The Wonder Stuff was a great band live.
After a couple of iffy solo releases, Miles came back with some thrust with the Miles Hunt Club last year. He could not look much more different now than he did in the Wonder Stuff days: then a young, lean, wan, sneering artiste in leather pants with wild long red hair bouncing around the room. Now – a slightly puffy, respectable type in a suit and tie with accountant hair whom no one would mistake for young nor presume to be artistic. Ten years isn’t THAT long.