A posthumous collection of all of the Wonder Stuff's singles from 1987 to 1993, plus a cover of Slade's "Coz I Love You" from a charity compilation, If the Beatles had Read Hunter…the Singles is both a fine starting point and, for most, all the Wonder Stuff they'll ever actually need. Albums one and three, 1988's The Eight-Legged Groove Machine and 1991's Never Loved Elvis, are solidly entertaining (in wildly differing styles) throughout, but the rest of the group's output was fairly inconsistent. However, in the classic Brit-pop tradition pretty much all of the band's very best material, from the Kinks-like, music hall-style tune "The Size of a Cow" to the manic buzz of "Give Give Give Me More More More," was released as singles. There are a couple of iffy inclusions, particularly the frankly terrible version of Tommy Roe's "Dizzy," recorded in collaboration with British comedian Vic Reeves, but overall, this is a solid, completely representative overview. Those whose curiosity is stoked would do well to buy The Eight-Legged Groove Machine next.
Long John's second album for the Alligator imprint is even more potent than his first, Texas Border Legend. This time around, Hunter's sly, drawling vocals and stinging clusters of guitar are well to the fore, keeping the spotlight firmly in place on this Texas guitar legend. The record was cut in Austin and Abilene, Texas, and as such boasts Lone Star talent like Derek O'Brien, who plays rhythm guitar on this disc and solos on "I Don't Care" and "V-8 Ford." Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff blows saxophone on eight tunes and harmonica on "Locksmith Man." For his part, Hunter contributes 10 of the 14 tunes, co-writing with various members of his Walking Catfish Band or his co-producers, Tary Owens and John Foose. Long John's no-holds-barred approach literally screams Texas blues, letting you know you're listening to an originator, not an imitator.