Formed when Steve Gregory, head honcho of the infamous Fierce label of Swansea, decided it was a good idea to release the World's Worst Indiepop record by the World's Worst Indiepop group. Quite why has never been fully explained.

First step was to recruit an unlikely singer: step forward Hue Williams, not the son of Dire Straits drummer Terry as was later claimed, but a celeb from the local cutie scene. Then, in an obvious move for any manager wishing to minimise the dispersal of royalties, the next stage was to invent the rest of the band and allocate them some made-up names: Alison (bass); Stephanie Bass-Drum (drum machine); Paul (guitar); and Trudi Tangerine (tambourine). Steve would write the songs and produce the records.

The single that resulted was called "On Tape". Released in January 1988, it became hugely popular, selling out its meagre pressing almost immediately and thereby creating one of the highest-prized of all indiepop collectables, though even this pales in comparison to the Holy Grail unavailablity of the legendary Fierce five-single boxset released later that summer, which included "I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well", the finest example of their self-confessed "early funny ones".

Releases followed on 53rd & 3rd (a live album, "Orgasm"), Cheree & Woosh (flexis) and Sympathy For The Record Industry (the first non-U.S. band to have a record released by the cult Californian label), as well as more home-grown releases on Fierce. Each release was calculated to alienate the group's established fans, but on each occasion the records kept selling and there was always demand for the next one. Eventually, Steve decided to do the unthinkable and have The Pooh Sticks make a bona-fide rock album, with proper drums, guitar solos and all the 70s trappings he could muster: surely this would see The Pooh Sticks go out in a glorious blaze of failure, he reasoned.

But when "The Great White Wonder" album was released in April 1991 it gave rise to even bigger interest, both from fans and the press. If even the inclusion of the fourteen-minute guitar solo of "I'm In You" hadn't killed off The Pooh Sticks, thought Steve, he may as well see through this odd experiment to some other conclusion. Steve and Hue signed the first major label deal offered to them, with Zoo (BMG) of America, to see if they could complete the transformation from World's Worst Indiepop group to Stadium Indie heroes, and legendarily becoming the first group ever signed to BMG without the company first hearing demos.

And that was just about the end for The Pooh Sticks. The resulting album, "Million Seller" (1992), with its clean pure-pop upbeats and piano-led downbeats, was one strange turn too many for the fans & press alike (except in the States, where The Pooh Sticks were universally critically acclaimed, if not actually bought by anyone). After an argument with the label president over the real-world-business mundanity of tour support, The Pooh Sticks declined the second album offered to them by Zoo and entered into a deal with Atlantic subsidiary Seed Records.

"Optimistic Fool", and the single taken from it, "Cool In A Crisis", were issued by Seed in 1994 to the deafening silence that heralded one album too many. Although the songs were every bit as good as those on earlier records, and the U.S. press once again provided some ecstatic reviews for the scrapbook, for Steve the cycle was definitely complete and the Pooh Sticks project terminated December 1994.

Since the demise of the group, Hue has gone into management and is apparently the Minister For Welsh Pop in a weekly programme on BBC Radio Wales. Steve made a rare, one-off album as International Language in 1995 before leaving the music business and reportedly moving to Europe.


Jenny.











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