Click here to read Trudi's handwritten note.
When I started The Pooh Sticks it wasn't my concern whether anyone would actually like what we did. I just wanted to make a couple of vaguely nice records to look back on in my old age (you know, about 30). Still, 2 years later, here we were recording a proper album for simultaneous release in America. Who'd have thought it? And it would be a sharp, bright pop record for future historians to say that yes, those Pooh Sticks, they were pretty good really. We never for one moment thought there'd ever be another album so this was going to be one take; whatever we wanted to do we'd better do it now.
It's one of those great American A&R/promo phrases. Like, is such-and-such a track suitable for airplay. But in our song it refers to that magical moment in a girl's life when the photos of ponies and teddy bears are replaced with huge fold-out posters of the new teen sensation and she absolutely, positively cannot possibly go to sleep while the batteries in the transistor have a gasp of life left in them. Yes of course she'll feel terrible in the morning if she doesn't get some sleep soon but, well, some thing are just too important.
As it happens, this was recorded before we'd planned the LP, and as something of an experiment. One day Stephanie came down to the basement before breakfast and we had her sing her first ever lead vocal. As I remember, Hue was still in bed and by the time he emerged we'd finished and were munching toast and supping the day's first tea. I loved Stephanie's singing on it and was over joyed (and puzzled) when that Long Gone John from the wholly unlistenable Sympathy label said he wanted to release it as a single, ASAP. Obviously it was easily going to be the most tuneful thing he'd ever put out.
When it was released it seemed to be Peel's opening record every day for a month. To this day I still think that this is the best of all Pooh Sticks lyrics; I never did get to find out if Hue was unhappy he didn't sing it.
TIME TO TIME
Eventually Amelia would take to throwing out to the crowd the relevant number of sweets during those middle sections and this song would always be one of the most popular in Pooh Sticks gigs. And there is no story whatsoever about its writing or recording, which is a shame as I know you'd really like one. But I only ever tell the truth and I'm not going to start lying now. That would just confuse you.
I've already told this story on the "Million Seller" sleeve so it's not really necessary for me to say here that (yawn) Hue apparently had a cousin who was once lucky enough to entertain a sleepwalking Susan (not her real name?) when she climbed into his bed one night. What I neglected to mention on "Million Seller" was that I've always been slightly nervous about this story as I sometimes sleepwalk myself and there have been many occasions when I've wandered into someone else's room.
Makes you think, doesn't it? And blush.
ALL THE GOOD THAT'S HAPPENING
I stole this title from an old record by The Leaves I'd nerver heard. I've heard it since and our song is better, although you should have heard the original version we made with one of those sitar guitars! I actually owned one of those things myself for about ten hours, after I'd bought it from Paul Carman and before I sold it to Danielle Dax in the morning. One of the most stupid things I ever did. Still, she was nice enough to sign a copy of "Jesus Egg That Wept" to me ("Thanks for everything, Trudi, love Danielle Dax", with three kisses) so I suppose we all came out on top.
Anyway, that version seems to have been lost forever when we moved house a couple of years ago and whole boxes of Pooh Sticks history (and little known pre-history) went missing. So I haven't heard it in a long while and well, let's face it, it was probably not that good - we did remake it, after all- but at least now I've got it off my chest. The version here is marvellous enough, though, and once again it has a lyric which I'm really happy with and which really captures walking on Swansea beach in the middle of winter, going from the Guildhall up to town for tea in Wimpy's when it was still a caff and before they made it a McCaff.
By the way, the end section eventually became "Optimistic Fool", the title track for our last album; after all, if it's a good idea why use it only the once, right? Just ask Oasis.
DARE TRUE KISS PROMISE
Who of us didn't used to get an exciting sick feeling in the stomach when it came out 'dare'? Anyway, this is basically "1-2-3 Red Light" although obviously nowhere near as good. The tradition, of course, is to take a kiddie lyric and make a pervy-smut song out of it ("Yummy Yummy Yummy", "Indian Giver") so that's exactly what we did. Originally I'd suggested writing a song called "L-O-N-D-O-N London" which was the British version of 1-2-3 Red Light I remember playing but for some reason we didn't.
TEENAGE HIGH 2
One day we were all sitting 'round in the basement listening to a tape of GG Allin songs, wondering if there were any which weren't rude (no) and we were especially struck by "NYC Tonite", which is basically this. Naturally we had parents and more sensitive friends to consider so we changed the words (and anyway, we couldn't have Hue singing about New York... at least, not yet!) There's also a nice secondary part in this song which comes from a Dion record I particularly liked and would sing constantly; the others thought this was most amusing as it goes "we walk tall" and I'm really quite short and for some reason it tickled them no end.
We'd done it before ("Heroes And Villains") and we'd do it again ("I'm In You", "The World Is Turning On") and here's another song about our friend Apollo Smile. She's from Venus; even though she was brought up in a little log cabin in the woods in Connecticut her real home is Venus, the "brightest star" in the lyric. She does past-life readings, people's auras, that kind of thing. (I know you think I'm making this up.) Anyway, one day there was a big fire in her apartment and everything was burned out - except around the head of her bed where she kept her crystals under the pillow! I saw this with my own eyes and I swear it's true. Everything was destroyed except just there. (That morning we put her completely melted TV on the street and, this being New York, within minutes someone had taken it for themselves, obviously having fallen for its zooty Dali vibe and not caring that there was no way that telly was ever going to work again.) Apollo later wrote that song "Rainbow Rider" we did on "Million Seller" and eventually made her own great album for Geffen.
Anyway, we were sure that everyone would hate "Tonight " because it just goes on and on and definitely has some sort of prog vibe about it, what with the rain noises and everything. They didn't, but I don't remember it getting a lot of airplay, that's for sure!
SOFT BEDS, HARD BATTLES
I suppose after the excess of "Tonight" we had to make some kind of reassurances so here we are back to short pervy-smut songs again. It's a safety net! There's no real life background to this lyric but I can tell you that we stole the title from a song by a Swansea band whose name I've forgotten. Anyway, if we had some gigs coming up we'd sometimes rehearse in their studio because our basement just wasn't really big enough and one day we were in there when their guitar player trapped two fingers in the jamb of the big heavy studio door: there was blood everywhere and we had to find the fingertips, put them in ice and get him to the hospital quick! In the end they weren't able to sew them back on so it's lucky it was his strumming hand.
And when we'd put all these songs together, come up with an album title and had our photo taken for the cover that was about it. Some people still maintain it's their favourite Pooh Sticks album (mine is "Great White Wonder") and now it's being released on CD for the first time all seven years or more after "On Tape". Since then we've been all over the world, signed to a major label, been fucked over more than once, had a nice time anyway. And remember:
MY WEEK BEATS YOUR YEAR