Dramarama – Stuck In Wonderamaland

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

By the way, this is yet another album I bought twice. The attention created by “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” persuaded the band to move to California. They quickly recorded the prophetically-titled Box Office Bomb, which suffered from weak songs (with a couple of standout tracks, including “It’s Still Warm” and “Out In the Rain”). The band seemed stuck – big in the LA region but not making gains anywhere. After disastrous French tour, the band broke up for a bit and then regrouped to record Stuck In Wonderamaland. If the feeling of displacement and lack of success was getting to John Easdale at the time of the second album, then during the recording of Wonderamaland he was experiencing full-fledged disillusionment. Nonetheless, the recording sessions produced a ton of extra material, which the band packaged for a release in Europe – Looking Through – under the name of the Bent-Backed Tulips.

What I Think of This Album

A surprisingly subdued disc, so much so that you could be forgiven for thinking this was the sound of Dramarama giving up. I suspect part of the problem is the production, which sort of neuters the band, but in general, the material is slower and lacking in energy.

Three tracks nonetheless achieve classic Dramarama status:  the frantic “Last Cigarette,” which approximates the desperate energy of “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” and on which the entire band seems to come to life; the bitter and defeated “No Regrets,” offering up some live wire guitar; and “70’s TV,” on which John Easdale grimly acknowledges the impact of that art form on his life. Throw in the fine deep cut of “Try” – very Beatles-esque – and you have the foundation for a strong album.

Almost as good is “Lullabye,” which adds color to the mostly drab surroundings with some jangle and an energetic vocal. And finally, probably the band’s best cover is here in the form of Mott the Hoople’s  “I Wish I Was Your Mother,” whose sentiments and origin nicely dovetail with Dramarama’s bewildered exhaustion.

The rest is problematic. “Pumps On a Hill” lasts less than a minute and doesn’t make much impression. “Fireplace, Pool, & Air Conditioning” might have worked better on a different album, surrounded by more uptempo songs, but here it’s lost amid similarly slow, dour numbers, like piano ballad “It’s Hardly Enough.” Not belonging anywhere is “Would You Like,” on which Easdale abandons singing and just babbles into the mic. “Wonderamaland” is very dreary (and I’m not sure how I feel about the soul-ish middle eight, which sits awkwardly between the mopey, droney parts). Needless to say, the reprise at the end of the album (now titled “Stuck In Wonderamaland”) was ill-advised. The band benefits from the help of high school buddy Tommy T. and thanks Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople) in the difficult-to-read liner notes.

The Best Thing About This Album

I really like the Mott the Hoople cover.

Release Date

April, 1989

The Cover Art

Sort of hippie/trippy, which is a weird aesthetic for this group, and I don’t care for the washed out colors, which, intentionally or not, compliment the tepid sound of the album.

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