Monday, July 16, 2007

YOUR ROADMAP TO THE WORLD OF POOH

It makes me happy to see references to late 80s/very early 90s outsider nervo-pop act WORLD OF POOH online, and yet chagrined that the band is still such a goshdarned secret to so many. Granted, I was lucky enough to be a free-spending, heavy-drinking, club-hopping early twentysomething San Franciscan during their heyday, and so I got to see the band live about half a dozen times. They were about my favorite band going for about six months – and then they broke up. I’ll never forget the last show of theirs I saw (which was either their last show ever or their last San Francisco show), at the Blue Lamp bar, in which guitarist/bassist Brandan Kearney smashed a sand bottle on bassist/guitarist Barbara Manning’s head, causing the entire crowd to gasp, and then chuckle with relief. Me & my pal Tone EB always talk about the show in 1989 where they played with The Melvins & The Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, right as the latter had arrived from a sweaty first-US tour and blew everyone away, as being among our favorite rock n roll experiences ever.

If you look at old issues of WIRING DEPT. magazine (not that you have any lying around), there are references to a pre-Manning, pre- Jay Paget World of Pooh in which the band sounds like a more dark & strange beast with keyboards & noises & whatnot. Around 1987, with the arrival of recent Chico State college grad Barbara Manning, legend has it that they morphed into the jagged, oddly constructed New Zealand-meets-100 Flowers-meets-second album Wire pop trio they became marginally known for. I was a college radio DJ when I heard 1989’s “The Land of Thirst” LP at our station, and that’s when I knew there was this small treasure in my own backyard that I didn’t even know about. The record went out of print very quickly, where it remains. Rumors have persisted that it will be compiled onto CD with much or all of their other work, and Kearney himself has told me and others that a multitude of failure points have kept this event from actually happening. So they had those final six months or so, and poof – were gone. Manning presently went on to quite a career of her own, amassing a body of songs that are or should be the envy of singer/songwriters everywhere. Paget too didn’t miss a beat, and joined those aforementioned Thinking Fellers right away. Kearney went deep into experimental music and absurdist comedy – here’s a good interview with him if you want to know more.

One booster and friend of the band from day uno was Seymour Glass’s BANANAFISH magazine; I’m posting two tracks that the band put out with him from freebie comps that came with the mag – “Strip Club” (100 Flowers) and “Drucilla Penny” (The Carpenters). Both are fantastic, with the former being among the best cover songs I’ve ever heard. I’ll also include two tracks from “The Land of Thirst”, both with a Kearney vocal, as this is an excellent record top-to-bottom, and needs to find a new legion of devotees starting right about now. Finally, World of Pooh put out two 45s after they’d broken up, both of which were great. There’s “G.H.M./Someone Wants You Dead”, and there’s a 4-song EP on Kearney’s Nuf Sed label called “A Trip To Your Tonsils”, which has some of the best non-LP songs they were playing live up until their dying day. I’m giving you a healthy smattering of my favorites here. Anyone with stories or contributions of any kind is invited to share them by clicking the comments button.

Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Stones of Judgment” (from posthumous EP “A Trip To Your Tonsils”)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Owl Business” (from posthumous EP “A Trip To Your Tonsils”)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Playing One’s Own Piano” (from “The Land of Thirst” LP)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Laughing At The Ground” (from “The Land of Thirst” LP)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Strip Club” (from a Bananafish comp CD of some kind)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Drucilla Penny” (from a Bananafish comp 7” of some kind)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

For some reason, I've never heard this band. Always wanted to. Liked Barbara's solo stuff & SF Seals & shit like that. Will listen to these tunes after work. Thanks for posting 'em!

-trickknee

Anonymous said...

Hi Jay,

Thanks for the kind words! The Blue Lamp show wasn't the last SF gig, I don't think. The last show was at Maxwell's in NJ; it was the culmination of a weeklong East Coast tour loosely modeled on Scipio Aemilianus's tour of Carthage in 146 BC.

And Barbara actually joined in 1986. Other than that, your grasp of our microscopic history is unmatched.

Looks like it's time for my sponge bath, so I'll be rolling along. Cheers!

BK

PB said...

Great post!! I have the LP and the "A Trip to Your Tonsils" 7" but it was nice to hear the much touted (by you) 100 Flowers cover.

Anonymous said...

Didn't they cover Dominance and Submission on another compilation EP?

Jay said...

Yes, they did. It's very out-of-character compared to other work of theirs, which I suspect suited them just fine.

tim hinely said...

hey jay,
thx for the post...glad someone remembers this band. i love their two 7"s i have but sadly , i was never able to find the lp (not that i didnl't try valiantly). all i have to say is if it DOES get reissued i have a perfect slot for it right next to my would be goods cds !
thx ,tim

Douglas Wolk said...

Oh man. Thank you for posting this--one of my very favorite bands ever. So cruel, so smart, so perfectly small-scale.

Mike said...

Brandan is correct that Maxwell's was the last show. And what a show it was - you could feel the burning hatred between him and Barbara. It was like what I imagine Richard & Linda Thompson's last tour to have been, scaled down to an early-90s indie-rock level.

I really hope they manage to do that reissue someday.

Aerial said...

Thank you Jay and The World of Pooh; Jay for taking me back to the scene from the Noc-Noc club to the Crystal Pistol, MCM and the monster. A lovely time had by all. World of Pooh, you ruled and you still rule in my book, not that "ruling in my book" is that big a deal, but it's all I've got! Thank you Jay for the tracks because I've been missing them, along with my "Land of Thirst" LP for many, many years.

panikscam said...

great post, wish that Land of Thirst was out someday. For now, i'll just enjoy the nice sampling you posted.
thanks!

Anonymous said...

I first saw World of Pooh in SF (playing in an alley -- I can't recall the name but I think the name of the alley began with a D). And I still have an original World of Pooh T-shirt.

Past Expiry said...

How Winnie the Pooh got his name...

http://pastexpiry.blogspot.com/2009/05/cartoon-winnie-pooh.html

Anonymous said...

I had the World of Pooh Someone Wants You Dead 45. I love that song. I found it in Berkeley, CA..back in the 90's.

Shawndra
-Grants Pass, OR