The Pop Group
|The Pop Group|
|Genres||Post-punk, avant-garde, funk|
|Years active||1977–1981, 2010–present|
|Labels||Rough Trade, Radar Records|
|Associated acts||The Slits, Dennis Bovell, New Age Steppers, Maximum Joy, Rip Rig + Panic, Pigbag, Mark Stewart + The Maffia|
|Past members||Simon Underwood
The Pop Group are a British post-punk band formed in Bristol in 1977. Their output in the late 1970s, which drew on an iconoclastic range of sources across music, politics, and art, has won them acknowledgement as a pioneering post-punk group. In 2010, the band reunited, touring and recording for the first time in three decades.
Post-punk era (1977-1981)
The Pop Group was formed in 1977 in Bristol by teenagers Mark Stewart (lyrics, vocals), John Waddington (guitar), Gareth Sager (guitar), Simon Underwood (bass) and Bruce Smith (drums, percussion). Inspired by the energy of the punk rock movement but disillusioned by its musical conservatism, the group initially conceived of themselves as a funk outfit and drew on artists as diverse as Ornette Coleman, King Tubby, Debussy, Funkadelic, Jacques Brel, and Steve Reich in addition to non-musical sources such as French romanticism, Beat poetry, and the Situationists Soon after forming, they began to gain notoriety for their incendiary live performances and were subsequently signed to Radar Records. They issued their debut single, "She Is Beyond Good and Evil," in March 1979 and their debut album, Y, in April of that year, both to critical acclaim but relatively low sales figures. Regardless, their moderate success was sufficient to convince Rough Trade to sign the band. During this period, Dan Catsis replaced Underwood on bass.
The band's career with Rough Trade commenced with the release of the single "We Are All Prostitutes." This was followed by the release of their second album, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? Shortly afterwards the Pop Group released a split single, "Where There's a Will...", with the Slits, a band with whom they now shared a drummer (Bruce Smith) and managers (Christine Robertson and Dick O'Dell). The band split in 1981, after legal wranglings and internal disagreements. Members of the group went on to join bands including Pigbag, Maximum Joy, Head, the Slits and Rip Rig + Panic, the latter notable for the involvement of Neneh Cherry. Stewart collaborated with the On-U Sound posse, issuing records backed by The Maffia, then as a solo artist.
It was reported on 24 May 2010 that the Pop Group would be reuniting and touring, with three of the original five members returning. The Pop Group's 1980 LP We Are Time saw its first reissue worldwide on 20 October 2014. The band also released a compilation of rarities titled Cabinet of Curiosities. In support of the reissues the band undertook a 7-day UK tour. On 23 February 2015, the Pop Group released Citizen Zombie, their first studio album in 35 years.
Style and influence
The Guardian wrote that the Pop Group "—ahead of Gang of Four, PiL, A Certain Ratio and the rest – steered punk towards a radical, politicised mash-up of dub, funk, free jazz and the avant-garde." Theorist Mark Fisher describes their sound as "both carvernous and propulsive, ultra-abstract yet driven by dance music’s physical imperatives." Stewart's fevered lyrics took influence from the leftist avant-garde, French poetry, the Beat writers, and existential philosophy.
The Pop Group have been called pioneers of the late-’70s and early-’80s post-punk scene. They have been cited as an influence by artists such as Nick Cave of The Birthday Party, Massive Attack, Nine Inch Nails, Mike Watt of Minutemen, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and St. Vincent.
- Studio albums
- Y (1979, Radar Records)
- For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? (1980, Rough Trade Records)
- Citizen Zombie (2015, Freaks R Us)
- "She Is Beyond Good and Evil" (1979, Radar)
- "We Are All Prostitutes" (1979, Rough Trade)
- "Where There's a Will There's a Way" (1980, Rough Trade/Y)
- "Related: Associated With". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- "The Pop Group: The Oral History of the Post-Punk Pioneers - Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
- Freaks R Us
- Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-21570-6.
- Dougan, John. "Artist Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 757–758. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
- "Update: The Pop Group to reunite". The A.V. Club. 24 May 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
- "Premiere: The Pop Group - "Citizen Zombie"". NOISEY. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- "Stealing Fire: The Pop Group`S `Y` Lp: Fact Magazine". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
- O'Hagan, Sean (14 September 2010). "The Pop Group: Still Blazing a Trail That Makes Rock Look Conservative". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- "The Pop Group Are Back and Fighting Against the "Warm Bath of Apathy"". NOISEY. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- Everhart, John (2015-02-24). "Review: The Pop Group makes a triumphant return · Music Review · The A.V. Club". Avclub.com. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
- Official website
- Trailer for the Pop Group/Mark Stewart documentary
- Fan site
- Review of Y on HeadHeritage, Julian Cope's site