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a sound reaction daveowens.

THIS weekend you have the opportunity to witness one of the great lost bands of Welsh rock 'n' roll dusting down their amps and taking to the stage in Wales for one last giddy skip through their back catalogue.

There was a point in 1993 when arch indie pop auteurs The Pooh Sticks looked set to live up to the grandiose billing of their cheekily-titled album Million Seller.

Safely ensconced in a major label record deal with music giants BMG, the cartoon power poppers, who formed in Swansea in 1987, were seemingly set for chart conquering success.

They released surely the greatest song to clock in under two minutes, The World Is Turning On, a thrilling blast of power pop that came spinning to a dizzying climax at one minute and 51 seconds.

It turned the heads of taste-makers at Radio 1 who playlisted the song on the A List - the hallowed ranking which inevitably guaranteed chart success. Except in The Pooh Sticks' case, of course.

"When World Is Turning On was being played by Gary Davies in between Whitney Houston and Madonna," recalls Pooh Sticks founder Huw Williams. "It was all downhill after that. It wasn't so much a million seller, as a 25,000 seller, which doesn't have the same ring!" It wasn't meant to be for the outfit generally considered as Wales' greatest lost band. Caught between the Madchester swagger of The Stone Roses and the storm of Seattle's brazen guitar noiseniks Nirvana they were perhaps a band out of step.

When The Pooh Sticks laid their cardboard cut-outs and elaborately playful pop sounds to rest in 1995, it was prophetic that Williams then embarked on a conventional career in the music industry as a talent-spotting A&R man. He was also the guiding hand behind the success of Catatonia and 60ft Dolls, and left a far-reaching legacy as the co-founder of the Welsh Music Foundation.

However, a decade and a half since The Pooh Sticks crashed and burned, Williams is picking up the pieces of this most cult of Welsh bands. For a Welsh band it's incredible that The Pooh Sticks played so few shows in their homeland. That will be rectified somewhat when they play The Globe in Cardiff tomorrow.

"We did one headline show in Pontypridd, and we only ever played one show in Cardiff at the Venue, which was on Charles Street. That was in 1989," recalls Williams. "As we had hardly played in Wales I thought it would be a nice thing to do, especially to do it in a place like The Globe.

"It's the last show we'll ever do in Wales," he states firmly, before adding with tongue planted firmly in cheek: "You have to say things like that to get people to come!" For those not heading to that shindig, check out this weekend's inaugural Merthyr Rock Festival. I'll be live blogging from the festival, bringing you the sights and sounds of what promises to be an incredible couple of days. ? For more info check out www.walesonline.co.uk/merthyrrock ? Follow Dave on twitter @asoundreaction visualarts
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 2, 2011
Words:518
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