(Planet Me)
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
MILES HUNT, Hairy On The Inside

15 years after it's US release, at last, Miles Hunt's solo debut “Hairy On The Inside” is afforded a UK issue, complete with 17 extra songs. At the time, without a band, the solo artist was ploughing a relatively lonely furrow – despite the assistance of former bandmates Malcolm Treece and Martin Bell – and this album largely escaped to a deafening silence. Which is a shame, because despite the self-confessed introspection of “Hairy On The Inside”, it is a record that I come back to all the time.

It sure ain't The Wonder Stuff. Nor would I want it to be : gone were the big rock bombast, the roar of guitars and rampaging drums. Instead this album , penned at 32, was a reflective and self-aware collection of 10 songs and 38 minutes. Taking the introspective and intelligent view of some of the later Wonder Stuff songs, stripped of the flippancy, “Hairy On The Inside” was a record for listening to. For me, it became a broken heart record, a collection of songs that soundtracked my newly found singledom at the cusp of the millenium, and songs that gave themselves new insight, with a hopeful but hopeless view of everything. There's little that will be familiar to you unless you have heard this – after all, despite the personnel being 60% Wonder Stuff, and therefore draped utterly in the band's DNA, this is a solo record, a singular vision of the world at a point in time, and a record older than its years, wiser than its age may betray. The bottom line is that this is a record that rewards repeated listening with hidden depths and a view that sometimes makes sense years – or even a decade and a half later. The core album itself is a record you might love but don't even know exists, and in the shape of “Manna From Heaven” and “Getting Over You”, anyone whose ever felt love and lost love will know this. It's bolstered up by 17 songs recorded from the same period – and whilst some explore the same mine with lesser returns (“Haunted Country”, “How Long Was I Asleep?” and “Crutch” are good, but not great), it's also welcome to hear 9 completely unreleased, fully formed extra songs and a clutch of embryonic demos. Of the unreleased stuff, the absolute cream of the crop, and one of the greatest songs Hunt has ever recorded is the inexplicably hidden “It's A Wonder”, which is as good as anything Hunt / Treece / Bell ever recorded, albeit far more reflective and far less jaunty than the other work.

I have no hesitation in recommending this to any fan of The Wonder Stuff who wants to hear a more mature, and thoughtful side of the band that you might previously have overlooked.

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