The Pooh Sticks – The Pure Styx EP
Sympathy for the Record Industry, 1989
Acquired: End of an Ear, Used, 2008
The legacy of the Pooh Sticks brands the Welsh group as indie rock tricksters. The group itself was the brainchild of producer/record label runner/songwriter Steve Gregory implemented by frontman Hue Williams and their MO was to subvert pop music while making some brain-meltingly catchy, jangly, sing-a-long pop music along the way. The cover of the group’s most famous album—1991’s The Great White Wonder—depicted the band an Archies-esque pop group while stealing melodies, song titles, and lyrics at will from various American musicians (Lou Reed, James Taylor, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, the list goes on and on). While “Teenage High,” the first track from The Pure Styx EP, could easily be confused with one of the more upbeat Sarah Records singles of the era (the band recruited twee-pop queen Amelia Fletcher on vocals a year later) the tracks are as much as a play on twee as they are pure pop bliss. After all, the b-side features a GG Allin cover, so how twee can this be? Regardless, I love this seven-inch so much I own two copies (one in opaque pink, one in translucent blue). The power pop embracing b-side “Soft Beds Hard Battles” features Williams on vocals and a couple of short, wailing guitar solos all buoyed by a propulsive rhythm section all crammed into a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it running time (it can’t be more than a minute long). The running time of this “EP” is probably just over five minutes and I could pretty much listen to it forever, evidenced by the fact that I just listened to it 8 times while writing this short review.