Monday, April 18, 2005

It's hard enough just watching you

WORLD OF POOH "Squirm Test"
It’s no secret that an awful lot of the best ensemble music is created in an atmosphere of mutual dislike, even outright hatred. I got my first glimpse of this when asking members of Husker Du and Black Flag about their repective bandmates, as a young fanzine lad back in the day.

Didn’t realize until well after they’d broken up that the SF-based World of Pooh had this sort of dynamic going on; apparently the band’s lyrics (“Stay away your flesh disgusts me,” etc.) had something to do with Brandan Kearney and Barbara Manning (allegedly) being lovers/ ex-lovers. The chorus to the only song they sang and wrote together went "I'm on the wrong side -- always." Which reminds me of my marriage -- 'nuf sed.

Their music was terse, poppy and loopy, and they jammed very econo. It all made perfect sense at the time, coming on the heels of Byron Coley’s great Urinals bootleg 7”s and the waning of Flying Nun/ nascent ascendancy of the XPressway scene (i.e. noise-pop to pop-noise). I only saw them once, at CB’s ca. ’90, one of the best shows I ever saw. Anyway, Trouser Press liked 'em. Bad boy Brandan Kearney said in an interview that "World of Pooh started out as this childish keyboard-heavy trio in 1983, then mutated into pretty straightforward indie-rock by 1987 or thereabouts." Barbara has said over the last few years that a reissue of their only, rare LP Land of Thirst is in the works, but according to the great Jack Cole via the also-great Agony Shorthand blog, we're just going to have to wait.

I would rather have the vinyl than the CD reissue, of course, myself, so I'll keep checking the "W" section at record shops. I spend a bit of time looking for stuff I used to own and got rid of for decent reasons (I didn't like it at the time), stupid reasons (I was broke), and much stupider reasons (I needed drugs, maaan). Whether it's this small book of translations of Francois Villon done by (I swear -- though I can't find it listed anywhere!) Ron Padgett (wait, maybe it was Larry Fagin?) or that 7" where Dutch band the Shanks cover Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World" (produced by Mayo Thompson, too!) -- yeah I'm pretty much always looking for these things I used to have.


Blogger Mike said...

Were you at WoP's Maxwell's show? It was their last ever, and one of the most emotionally-charged live sets I've ever seen: relief, anger, resentment and residual passion (which sums up Babs' best songs in general, actually). Speaking of anger, Henry Rollins apparently threatened the band at their CBs show for some imagined onstage slight. I'd have liked to be a fly on the wall for that.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Mike McGonigal said...

Hey Mike!!! Ummm, I do not think I was at that show -- I just remember seeing them at CB's -- Rollins was at that gig too? Damn. I do not remember that at all.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Long time no see! I just have to say, "Mr. Coffee-Nerves" is based on old ads for Postum cereal beverage; it should be seen less as an expression of my own psychosexual angst, and more as the result of a childhood spent listening to Randy Newman. (And "Squirm Test" is about "The New Newlywed Game," of all things.) I've never been one to write songs about inamorata, to tell the truth.

Reissue? You don't wanna know. It actually got to the point of being mastered, but...well, I don't really want to go into it, but it has nothing to do with band-member friction (we're all on friendly terms). The booklet's done, the tray card's done...but it's been hanging in limbo for about three years now, and I'm not quite sure what's to be done about it, if anything.

If anything changes, I'll let you know.

9:41 AM  
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