Fierce 1990. Fright041
The Nightblooms were a Dutch band who had obviously made quite a study of the likes of MBV and Slowdive, but they did take their aesthetic somewhere a bit new. This single is awash with fuzzed out guitar, loads of wah-wah and twee female vocals very low in the mix. The song is so great it feels like they must have nicked it from somewhere, but I can’t place it. The B side is similar, but without a tune it doesn’t work that well.
It’s an odd release though because it’s on the somewhat dodgy Fierce Records, which have featured here quite a bit. However this is a totally normal record. The band are real and were signed to Fierce. It was distributed properly, has the playing time you’d expect, with proper covers and label art work. It might be the only Fierce release I have which is like it.
Fierce 1991. Fright 047
By the time this came out I’d got very bored of the Pooh Sticks, but this was in a bargain bin, and against my better judgement, I bought it. It’s actually an expanded re-issue of Orgasm, with a bunch of studio tracks appended to the original release.
Side 1, supposedly recorded live includes most of their early tracks. Surprisingly they’re the most proficient and well recorded versions of these songs, so my purchase wasn’t quite as ill advised as I thought. Of course when I say proficient, I mean proficient by Pooh Sticks standards, so don’t expect too much.
Side 2’s studio recordings are a bit of a mess, and follow Fierce’s weird penchant for mono recordings.
Fierce Records 1987. FRIGHT006
I haven’t posted anything from Fierce for a while, so here’s a rare thing – a single by a convicted mass murderer. Fierce were all about annoying people, so what better way to kick things off than re-issue Charles Manson’s 1970 album, Lie: The Love And Terror Cult. I don’t have that album, but this single is taken from it. As is typical of Fierce, it’s one sided and very short. The single actually has two tracks, but the second is silent, so I didn’t bother ripping that.
The music is pretty much what you’d expect from 1970 low budget hippy ramblings. It’s not bad exactly, but no-one would be listening to it if it wasn’t Charles Manson. But don’t let me underplay that. It is genuinely unsettling listening to this when you know what he was getting up to.
So is this single in bad taste? Probably, but many of us, me included find people like Manson horribly fascinating. We read about these killers in the paper and watch TV documentaries about them in an effort to find out what makes such a monster as this tick. I can’t see that listening to him sing is any different. You can rest assured that not a penny (cent?) from this stuff ever made it back to Manson.
Fierce Recordings 1988. No catalogue number.
This continues the Fierce theme and is something of an oddball record. It claims to be by the KLF, and was sent to the music papers in 1988 for review. However the KLF themselves denied all knowledge of it while heartily approving of the idea of musicians pretending to be other musicians. It should have been obvious to anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the KLF that this was a fake because it lacked any of the features which made the KLF worth paying attention to. There’s no humour, no statement, no Scottish ranting, no flair and no tunes, but the British music press fell for it and reviewed it as a KLF release. To their credit it got the bad reviews it deserved.
What this actually is, is a Fierce scam, a real one this time, not a pretend one. It was made by Kid Chaos – which does give a KLF connection because he played bass with Zodiac Windwarp, aka Mark Manning who co-wrote various books with Bill Drummond, most notably Bad Wisdom.
The A side, probably called Borderline is Jon Bonham’s drum break from When The Levee Breaks looped with some random records playing in the background. To call it sampling would imply some sort of competence. So it’s garbage, but still an enjoyable listen because the looped drum break is fabulous. It would have been better without Kid Chaos’s inept turntablism in the background though. The first of the B sides, All U Need Is Love actually has some merit. Like Borderline it has looped drums, although I don’t know where they’re lifted from, which create a powerful sense of tension. In the background is a Morcambe and Wise skit, but without the laughter track. For some reason it works really well – maybe I’m just a sucker for anything different sounding. The final track, BFB is a rip-off of the Public Enemy track She Watch Channel Zero – it samples the same Slayer riff and dumps more random bits of music on top. It is utter garbage and doesn’t even have the appeal of the first track…
The “info” sheet it came with is above, and I’ve pasted a couple more letters from Fierce below. It’s an interesting historical curio and worth hearing if you’re interested in Fierce or the KLF.
Update: I’ve just played this to a friend and he described it as fascinating, so maybe I’ve been a little harsh. It’s certainly true that it doesn’t sound like anything else.
Fierce Recordings 1988. Fright 015/016
When this was released, Fierce implied that it was a bootleg and very much part of their identity as a subversive label. However it later transpired that they had permission from Sonic Youth to to this, a pattern that was repeated with later releases. It also continued their habit of releasing little music for a lot of money – this was originally 2 one sided 7″ singles, although my second pressing dispenses with that silly format.
The music here is interesting. The A side, Stick Me Donna Magic Momma is a Peel session version of Expressway To Yr Skull which later appeared in a more polished version on Evol. It’s undermined by the format of this release – a 33rpm 7″ single which makes the sound quality a bit dodgy. Given how expensive this single was, they could have sorted that out, but if you’re into early SY, it’s still worth hearing.
The B side is a re-issue of the insanely rare first single, (Over) Kill Yr Idols, and since it plays at 45rpm it sounds better than the A side. Like the A side, it isn’t an easy listen, but it’s worth persevering with.
Fierce Records 1989. FRIGHT 034
Another rare indie 7″, but a good one this time. The Pooh Sticks had moved on by 1989 from being a terrible band with a great sense of humour into an outfit who could actually make decent records. This is a cover of a Vaselines song (Nirvana also had a strange penchant for this obscure Scottish band which gave them some infamy). OK, so Hugh still can’t sing, but they’ve either learnt to play or have hired someone who can because this single really rocks with loads of distortion and wah-wah. Actually, the only person who can play is the lead guitarist – the rest is as bad as ever, but the overall effect works for me. It’s not much of a hi-fi experience though….
Fierce were keen on selling records for a lot of money with very little music on them – this one didn’t cost too much but is one sided, so only 1 track.
I found a delightful letter from Hugh inside. Fierce were mainly mail order, so some sort of correspondence was inevitable:
Google analytics means I can do scary e-stalking of people who come here. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I did discover that the band have linked to this blog from their facebook page. I guess that means they’re not hacked off with me posting their deleted material which is good to know.
Fierce Records 1988. FRIGHT 026
Andy left a comment linking to a London gig of a load of 80s Indie bands I used to listen to back in the day. I can’t go, and I’m not sure I’d want to, but it did remind me of this lot.
The Pooh Sticks were a particularly shambolic Indie band from Swansea who recorded, at least initially for the somewhat subversive Fierce Records. Their first single On Tape (1988) was a stupidly limited pressing, 100 as I recall, so I never managed to get a copy but I did hear it on Peel and thought it was hilarious. It takes the piss out of geeky Indie kids of the time – you probably had to be one to get all the in jokes. They followed it up with an even more limited box of 5 one sided 7″ singles (50 copies I think, also in 1988) which I have. I guess it must be worth something but I’ve never seen one for sale. It contained more Indiepop in-jokes – I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well and Indiepop Ain’t Noise Pollution together with some less memorable ditties.
Actually to call them a band at all, at least in the early days was pushing it a bit. The whole thing was more an elaborate practical joke – with their bizarre and effectively unobtainable releases, Hugh’s tuneless singing and rock star fantasies, and a lack of musical proficiency which had to be heard to be believed. The line-up was also fictitious; it was actually just Steve Gregory who owned Fierce Records and Huw Williams the singer. But to criticise them for those things is to miss the point. They were about parody, and they achieved that very well and the joke rolled on for a surprisingly long time. They were properly funny.
This CD, long deleted, gathers together those 6 tracks and a couple of skits recorded in New York, one of which is a spoof of a TV ad that was around at the time. On one level it is of course dreadful, but On Tape still works I think.
By 1991 they’d changed direction and had a bit of success, but I’d lost interest by then. I did exchange a few letters with Huw Poohstick (Williams), the lead singer and he even did me a compilation tape. It was full of frighteningly cool stuff which I was very impressed by at the time, but it turns out his dad was the drummer in Man and Dire Straits and had a cool record collection. I had to buy my own records….