It's not very often that a topically themed pop song sounds as relevant 20 years down the line as the day when it was cut, but for one to sound more relevant, well, that's just something special. And this season, where the 'net fad is the ubiquitous rickroll, a song penned in mock disgust of the Mr. Astley could probably be re-released as a single and chart.
Possibly more bizarre than the Wonderstuff's sort-of precognitive powers on "Astley in the Noose," which was, I think, originally released as a B-side to some single or another is that it was literally the first Wonderstuff tune I sought out. It was tipped in a lyric in Pop Will Eat Itself's "Preaching to the Perverted," and, after discovering the ties between the Stuffies and the Poppies — which are so geeky I can pretty much guarantee only Erik G. is going to care about them — hunted The Eight-Legged Groove Machine down, then skipped to the penultimate track to check it out.
All I can say was I was a bit disappointed. "Astley in the Noose" isn't too bad of a song. Produced when The Wonderstuff was at the height of its smartass indie-pop songwriting, 1988 to be exact, front man Miles Hunt makes good on his sarcastic streak without sounding bitter or grumpy. Even better, the band packs more hooks into this track relegated to bonus-material infamy than a lot of bands muster in a couple singles. It's crisp, clean and snarky Stourbridge-sound pop. It was also worlds away from the intergalactic punk rock hip hop I was expecting from a band with ties to PWEI. Oh well. I quickly learned to love Groove Machine in its own way, though could never muster much more than mild interest for the other Wonderstuff albums I later picked up.
But see college-aged Internet pranksters? Making fun of Rick Astley is nothing new. The Wonderstuff was doing it better than your YouTube hijinks back when you were probably still in diapers. Game over.