Sunday, April 23, 2006

random journey of musical discovery no.3: The Pooh Sticks

We're going to Wales now. After The Pastels and The Vaselines, my random journey of musical discovery that leads me from one (new to me) band to another by association or, uh, Amazon recommendations, has now moved out of Scotland with this slightly puzzling band of pop junkies from Swansea in the late 80s and early 90s. In the words of their unofficial site , they present "a bizarre genre-hopping hybrid of two-minute jangle pop, 'enthusiastic' harmonizing, three-chord punk, girl-group cuteness and, beneath it all, a sharp wit aimed squarely at the po-faced indie scene of the time". It took me a while to chose an album out of their discography and I settled on 'Formula One Generation', because it has a Vaselines cover at the end. The liner notes for the CD edition reveal a delicious, nerdy sense of humour, a serious love of pop music, talks about a time and place in a very specific way, and even calls out to future pop historians. The music itself is definitely fun, there's two (!) songs called 'Teenage High' (one of them a John Peel fave, no less), a proggish ballad 'Tonight' (!!), the title 'Soft Beds, Hard Battles' is stolen from another local band, and the Vaselines cover is cool too. However to my ears it sounds a bit weedy, unsubstantial and self conscious at times, though i guess that's part of the idea and the appeal. I like the fact that this little musical journey has taken me already somewhere that seems to reference so much other music, it's definitely rewarding, though I'm not sure how the right way to write about it is. With The Pooh Sticks there's a sense that you needed to be there at the time, know the music, local indie scenes, etc. they seem to reference, take the piss out, worship, to be really immersed in that particual scene. I think they're still growing on me actually, which is always good too. There's no links leading on from that record an Amazon but the liner notes of the album lists people who have been the inspiration for 'Formula One Generation', so what better way to link on... I think it's going to be The Raspberries and their recent Greatest Hits.. Tell me I'm right!


Anonymous said...

Good record, but actually a middle-ground between their 'early funny ones' like "I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well" and "On Tape", which first made them Peel and NME favourites, and the later albums which they did with majors: "The Great White Wonder", "Million Seller", and "Optimistic Fool". "Million Seller" is probably the quintessential Pooh Sticks record, in which there really is a feeling that the band are living inside the pop dream/nightmare.

thomas said...

Hi there, thanks for checking in and giving me some further pointers - if I remember correctly 'Million Seller' was one of the other records i was thinking about getting too, judging by what I read about it, so I might still do that then.
"the band are living inside the pop dream/nightmare" - i like the sound of that :-)