The Pooh Sticks: Alan McGee


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….

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  2. I have the box of singles too. I never knew there was a CD. I thought fierce was too low rent in 88 to get a CD together.

  3. It also came out as an LP which I’m ashamed to say I have. Hopefully all this stuff will keep me in my old age…

    Fierce did a few other improbable CDs at around the same time including the pointless Jesus & Mary Chain Riot.

  4. […] had rather lost their way at this point.  They’d left behind the joyful wind-ups of their early records, but hadn’t yet turned into a band that could make music which could stand up without the […]

  5. I had (still have somewhere?) the pink cover LP.

    “Heartbreaking” remains one of my favourite tunes…. Love it to this day

    1. That’s the only version that I don’t have. Vinyl with black cover, CD and 7″ Box. I really should get a life…

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