MITTEL-EUROPEAN GNOMIC adventures of Paulus, who lived in a tree trunk, resembled Popeye in red dungarees, and was menaced by Eucalypta the witch. Assorted examples of moth-eaten taxidermy served duty as his woodland associates. Imported and translated (to say nothing of dubbed with sub-Goon Show voices) from the Dutch, specifically the pen of Jean Dulieu, who not only created and wrote the long-running cartoon strip on which this was based, but made and manipulated all the puppets himself. As a result… Christ, the thing’s hideous. Misshapen fragments of fowl and sightless lumps of Plaster of Paris move about with disconcertingly jerky motion, making the show’s rather routine “bad witch gets foiled by ace chums” plots appear sinister and claustrophobic, scarring many a child’s psyche in ways Bagpuss could never dream of. The theme’s lyrics (sung by the upper registers of a plummy children’s choir) are the easiest part: “Let’s take a holiday, there’s a little wood where we can stay/Paulus, the little wood gnome welcomes you to his home/Crackers and Hoppy are there/Hoo-Roo and the Bear/Snatch, Bristles and Gregory too/They’re waiting all for you/Something’s brewing, that’s quite plain/The witches cauldron’s boiling again/Paulus, you’d better take care/She’s out to get you/She’s up to get you/She’s out to get you, beware!” Indeed.
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We wish someone would put on the internet the brilliant interview with Stock Aitken and Waterman from Smash Hits in 1990 where they were asked if they were going down the dumper and they bitched about some of the less successful artists they’d worked with like Kakko (“she simply couldn’t sing the songs we gave her”) and Yell (“they did themselves so much damage in interviews they could never have another hit”). We think the biggest problem with the trio was that for every great record they did, and they did do plenty of great records (we’d cite Happening All Over Again, Love In The First Degree, Better The Devil You Know, When You Come Back To Me and You Spin Me Round as our top five), there were about half a dozen crap ones because they spread themselves a bit thinly. Regardless, Sir Pete is still, rightly, very proud of their legacy, as he will debate here alongside Sinitta, Jase and regular Hit Factory collaborator Phil Harding.
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