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Pointed Sticks - Waiting for the Real Thing LP
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Pointed Sticks - Waiting for the Real Thing LP

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Reviewed By: Geraint Jones

Label: Sudden Death Records

Format: CD

One of those bands that I had a very vague recollection of despite probably never having heard anything by them that I can recall until now, Pointed Sticks were one of the movers and shakers in the early Canadian punk scene, forming in 1978 and disbanding just three years later in 1981.

Canadian bands with few exceptions have the odds of achieving success overseas stacked against them and little has changed in the almost 30 years since the Pointed Sticks were in their heyday. For them that lucky break, despite a golden opportunity, would prove even more illusive than even they could have anticipated, of which more later.

Formed in the summer of 1978, when singer and principal songwriter Nick Jones returned to Vancouver from London, England that is rather than Ontario, where he’d been working in a record store, it’s clear that Jones had been paying attention to what had been going on around him.

Conjuring a winning formula of punk’s energy and no small amount of pop sensibility, the band churned out three cracking singles between 1978 and 1979. Sounding quintessentially English – the band even took their name from a Monty Python sketch! – the band should have gone down a storm in the UK. Stiff Records, one of the great record labels thought so as well, signing the band and releasing the Brinsley Schwartz-produced single ‘Out Of Luck’ backed with ‘What Do You Want Me To Do?’ and ‘Somebody’s Girl’ in 1979. Re-recordings of tracks featured on their first two Canadian singles, the original versions are included here, but whether the re-recordings captured the band’s energetic punk-pop hybrid as successfully as the originals had done, I don’t know. Had they done so, I’d have certainly bought a copy at the time, assuming I’d even known of its existence. Despite the lack of increased UK profile from the single, the hook-up with Stiff did succeed in gaining the band increased visibility and credibility nearer to home where they began to get regular shows and resulting acclaim from regular stints up and down the US West coast from where they ventured increasingly from their Vancouver base.

Stiff then invited the band to England to record their debut album which was when things began to go awry. Produced by Nigel Gray (The Police, Siouxsie And The Banshees), for reasons not entirely clear Stiff decided not to release the finished album, the band returning to Canada, very disappointed though not quite defeated, soon afterwards. Re-recording the album with producer Bob Rock upon their return, the band's debut album ‘Perfect Youth’ was finally released in Canada in 1981. Unfortunately though the band’s momentum, by now diminished on the international stage following the unsatisfactory conclusion to the Stiff deal, eventually saw the band stutter to a halt later that year.

‘Waiting For The Real Thing’ collates all six sides of their three original Canadian singles, a slew of compilation appearances, some unreleased material, including a number of tracks from the aborted Stiff album, and a live radio session from 1979.

Essential for the inclusion of the singles anyway, elsewhere though, perhaps lacking in fidelity at times, most noticeably on the radio session, this excellent set reveals a band fully deserving of their not even fifteen minutes in the spotlight and who deserved much more. For anyone enamoured of the punk/new wave scene of the late 1970’s, this retrospective reveals a band far too good to be forgotten.


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