The Yanks have colonized our subconscious (Wim Wenders - Kings of the Road)
Any kid listening to rock music has his/her mind haunted by America, at least by its image. I've never been to San Francisco, yet I consider it something like a promiced land, ever since I learned about Ashbury Height and Summer of Love (Yes, I know there's nothing left today, but this doesn't change a bit of the image I have). For many years I've listened carefully to any band came from there - and still do. Every now and then I find music that assures me that my little ...err obsession is not wrong at all, on the contrary it's very rewarding (the latest find is of course Wooden Shjips). After this rather off-topic introduction, let's go on to World of Pooh, a very promising band from SF, that didn't last enough to get known, yet their few releases are objects of desire in certain circles - not only because of their rarity but for their musical value as well. Brandan Kearney, Barbara Manning and Jay Paget were World of Pooh. Kearney said that the band existed from 1983, though Manning joined in 1986. Brandan Kearney is a major figure in San Francisco undreground/experimental circles and participated in a million bands - the most known are Caroliner, World of Pooh and Tarnation. Barbara Manning -former 28th Day- while in the WoP, released her first solo album "Lately I Keep Scissors" (with Greg Freeman on production and Kearney playing in it) which is an absolute must have, and if you don't listen to it you'll regret this huge lack in your musical education for the rest of your life. Jay Paget was a long time Thinking Fellers Local Union 282 member.This trio soon became very hot action, due to their amazing shows in the SF clubs. In 1989 the cult Nuf Sed label released their only LP - unfortunately in very small quantities- which almost immediately went out of print. Shortly after that, the band was no more, due to Kearnan and Manning's differences. There were two more 7-inch releases after their demise and the rest of their output are contributions to numerous compilations (To Sell Kerosene Door to Door anyone?) that are even rarer than the LP."Land of Thirst" never re-released, although there's a continuous demand from the fans until nowadays, and became a part of the myths and legends of the US underground. Around 2001-2002 there were discussions about a CD with all the released material of World of Pooh, but Kearney himself put an end to the release of this project, although it had actually started to take shape. This is surely a pity, because this means that their great music will remain unheard and unknown to the unlucky people who weren't in San Francisco around 1988-89 or aren't visitors of Lost-In-Tyme! Well, what about the music? Described as "terse, poppy and loopy" and "nervous pop/art group" by two gyus who know what they're talking about and, besides that, they have saw them live.I've started my hunting for "Land of Thirst" after listening to a couple of tracks (Mogra being one of them) in the radio in 1990, believing that World of Pooh was the new Barbara Manning group, and this was a psychedelized version of her "Scissors" album (which I've already had, as a huge fan of hers). When (after several years) managed to find it and listened to it from start to end, I realised that was not Barbara's new band. It's clear that Kearney had the last word to this record - even at Manning's songs - and in a way these songs (some of them already included in "Scissors") got the electrified treatment they need to earn their place in "Land Of Thirst" - not as psychedelic as I've expecting but nevertheless different, as they were performed by a band now and not from a solo artist, as in "Scissors". In fact they sound more "rockin" than the rest, just to underline the difference from the solo recordings. I'll mention that Gregg Freeman produced both records. Not as chaotic as Thinking Fellers records, not as folk as Bedlam Rovers, more weird than X-Tall and Donner Party, I think that "Land of Thirst" is an essential record if you wanna know what kind of music was created and played in San Francisco in late 80s-early 90s. I wouldn't know if the love/hate relationship between Manning and Brendan was true or not, but "I'm On The Wrong Side", the only track they co-wrote and "Mr.Coffee-Nerves" and "Mogra" on which are both on vocals, are pure magic. My personal favorites are the weirder tracks, but if you listen carefully to any of the 13 tracks of "Land of Thirst" you will discover a million beautiful details hidden in the background - distant voices, found sounds, tiny organs. You can discover this New Zealand "chunga-chunga" beat, made famous by the Clean, the Bats and the Chills, you can discover the peculiar turns of the song melodies, that drive them out of the regions of pop. You can discover the psychedelic essence throughout the record. And you can discover three imaginative, talented, brilliant artists who made an exceptional record, full of songs that invite you to live with them, and believe me, it won't be a boring life. You can find their ultra psychedelic version of Carpenters' "Druscilla Penny" here.
After this post Brendan Kearney made a comment and he promised that someday this CD retrospective will eventually see the light. We're waiting, Brendan!