“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest was part of a great indie band that I have super fond memories of. The Pooh Sticks were Peel favs, with seemingly soft but exceedingly sharp lyrics and sub 2 minute pearls of pop wisdom. I was a massive fan of the song “Alan McGee” with it’s knowing refrain “I know someone who knows someone who knows Alan McGee quite well” and other alternative holy grail references like Geoff Travis looking for a post Smiths new band and suggesting The Pooh Sticks could be it. Not to mention a missive about Paul Smith from Blast First (someone who took a photo of my vomit on a bus to use as a Blast First ad in VS) suggesting they couldn’t be on his label as they don’t hurt to listen to. Lyrically in the spirit of Half Man Half Biscuit, musically in the spirit of McCarthy, it was C86 era self effacing jingle jangle indie kiddery at its bashful best, literally “these were the best days of my life” (“Indiepop Ain’t Noise Pollution”).
When they later signed to cult US label Seed while I was writing the original VS zine, I was sent the amazing and much underrated album “Optimistic Fool” whose summer anthem “Cool In A Crisis” is still often played chez nous. It cocked into a snook anything similarly sprightly but way more fey The Lightning Seeds ever did around those mid 90s halcyon days. Can anything else but a snook be cocked? I digress. It is great to see that The Pooh Sticks have got a box set of all their 7″ singles coming out – perhaps the best way to imbibe their intrinsic charms. Obviously it’s a trainspotting dream but also a brilliant looking package and intro to a band you should have always had in your heart. What better time then for a Pooh Sticks “song for ewe”, and I was chuffed that the awesome Trudi Tangerine agreed!
The Pooh Sticks 7″ box set was originally released in 1988 on Fierce Recordings as a collection of five one- sided singles in a 7” cardboard box (etched on B-sides), with information insert, and hand-drawn designs on the box and labels and now sells for £250 if you are lucky enough to find a copy. It’s being lovingly re-released as five different coloured vinyl 7” singles (this time complete with B-sides) and 24 page booklet. Four of the new old songs had never been available before and the other “Hard On Love”, was released in 1989 on a flexi-disc and has never been available in any other format. It’s coming out on 22nd November via the ace Optic Nerve label.
Pretty spesh in short, as is Trudi’s choice of tune for us, which has an unusual connection to our very own fanzine name…so without further ado, here’s Trudi Tangerine’s mega personalised “song for ewe”…
“When I was little – no really little, not just delightfully petite like I am now – I used to have a cuddly black lamb called Velvet. She was called Velvet because
(a) I was making a pre-teen point that I preferred sheep to horses even though
(b) Liz Taylor once waved at me from a wound-down Rolls Royce window
…so a website called Velvet Sheep is right up my street. Plus, I’m Welsh, so there’s that. So thanks for asking.
Anyway, you want an “obscure” record? I can do you “UFO Dictator” by Tampax, if that’s any good. They were Italian, and the record came out in 1979. The first time I heard this I apparently turned blue because I stopped breathing. I don’t want to know what the band thought they were doing. I don’t want to know anything. I just don’t want to know.
It’s beautiful, but mostly people just think it’s stupid. I get it – I do, I really do – but I can’t be friends with those people. All I know is that every time I play the record any flowers in the room go through a four-minute cycle of first dying and then growing back stronger, taller and with more vibrant colours.
Your homework: there’s a little live clip of the band on Youtube (search ‘tampax-live’). Then go back to “UFO Dictator”. Remember to keep breathing.
CHEERS TO TRUDI TANGERINE AND TO SEAN NEWSHAM AT MUTANTE
You can pre-order the handsome “The Pooh Sticks 7″ Box Set” from Optic Nerve on the linkage below.