Y (album)

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Pop group Y.jpg
Studio album by The Pop Group
Released 20 April 1979
Recorded Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey, England
Length 40:11
Label Radar
Producer Dennis Bovell, The Pop Group
The Pop Group chronology
For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?
(1980)For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?1980

Y is the debut studio album of English post-punk band The Pop Group. The album was produced by dub musician Dennis "Blackbeard" Bovell at Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey, and was released on 20 April 1979 through Radar Records.[1]

Y initially received mixed critical reviews but has since received acclaim. Pitchfork Media ranked it at number 35 on its list of The Top 100 Albums of the 1970s.[2] The Wire included it in its list of "The 100 Most Important Records Ever Made.[3]

Background and recording[edit]

Inspired by the energy of punk rock but disillusioned by its musical traditionalism, The Pop Group initially set out as funk band, drawing influence from black dance music and radical political traditions. Soon after forming, they began to gain notoriety for their live performances, landing them a contract with Radar Records[4] and a cover of the NME.[5] They issued their debut single, "She Is Beyond Good and Evil" in early 1979.[5]

To record their debut, group teamed with British dub reggae producer Dennis Bovell. Critic Simon Reynolds wrote that "Bovell's mix of acid-rock wildness and dub wisdom made him [...] the ideal candidate for the not hugely enviable task of giving The Pop Group's unruly sound some semblance of cohesion," noting that he grounded the band's sound in its rhythm section while utilizing a variety of production effects.[5] Writing for Fact Magazine, Mark Fisher characterized the album's sound as a "delirial montage of funk, free jazz, Jamaican audio-mancy and the avant-garde," describing it as "both carvernous and propulsive, ultra-abstract yet driven by dance music’s physical imperatives." He noted the "sonic alchemy" of Bovell's production work.[6] PopMatters wrote that the group "sharpened the straightforward guitar lines of punk, the bounding throb of funk rhythms, and the sonic manipulation of dub and let them penetrate each other in ridiculously slapdash fashion."[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[8]

Upon its release, Y received enthusiastic but mixed reviews. In 1979, the NME described it as "a brave failure. Exciting but exasperating."[5] In recent years, the album has risen in critical estimations. Simon Reynolds called it "a heroic mess, glorious in its overreach."[5] In 2008, Mark Fisher wrote "Joy Division’s Closer is often considered the crown jewel of post-punk, but Y – inchoate with potential, the fire to Joy Division’s ice – has an equal claim.[6] Stylus Magazine called the album "a landmark of lunatic post-punk," writing that "these are political punk tunes deconstructed so that only the skeleton remains, and weaving between those bare bones are some of the nastiest sounds ever made."[9]

In 2004, Pitchfork ranked Y at number 35 on its list of the greatest albums of the 1970s, saying that "unlike most of the late-70s' no-wave types (and perennial imitators), The Pop Group were less concerned with eschewing convention than with vehemently eviscerating it."[2] PopMatters named it the 11th best post-punk ever in 2017.[7] The album has had a lasting impact, with artists such as the Minutemen, Primal Scream, Sonic Youth and Nick Cave citing the album as an influence on their work. Minutemen bassist Mike Watt commented that "The Pop Group said “let’s take Funkadelic and put it with Beefheart. Why not?"[10]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Rockerilla Italy Albums of the Year[11] 1979 14
The Wire United Kingdom The 100 Most Important Records Ever Made[12] 1992 *
Spex Germany The 100 Albums of the Century[13] 1999 51
Il Mucchio Selvaggio Italy 100 Best Albums by Decade (1971-1980)[14] 2002 41
Rock de Lux Spain The 200 Best Albums of All Time[15] 2002 145
Paul Morley United Kingdom Words and Music, 5 x 100 Greatest Albums of All Time[16] 2003 *
Pitchfork United States Top 100 Albums of the 1970s[2] 2004 35
PopMatters United States The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever[7] 2017 11
Stylus United States Top 101-200 Albums of All Time[9] 2004 168
Blow Up Italy 600 Essential Albums[17] 2005 *
Uncut United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Debut Albums[18] 2006 82
The Guardian United Kingdom 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die[19] 2007 *

(*) designates unordered lists.

Track listing[edit]

Most of the editions after 1996 include "She Is Beyond Good and Evil" as Track No.1

All tracks written by The Pop Group.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Thief of Fire" 4:35
2. "Snowgirl" 3:20
3. "Blood Money" 2:56
4. "Savage Sea" 3:01
5. "We Are Time" 6:29
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Words Disobey Me" 3:25
2. "Don't Call Me Pain" 5:34
3. "The Boys From Brazil" 4:15
4. "Don't Sell Your Dreams" 6:37


Adapted from the Y liner notes.[20]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom 1979 Radar LP RAD 20
Japan Warner-Pioneer Corporation P-10705F
United Kingdom 1996 Radar CD SCANCD14
Japan WPCR-722
United Kingdom 2007 Rhino, Radar 5101-19920-2
Japan 2013 Warner Music Group WPCR-15282


  1. ^ "Y LP". thepopgroup.net. 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Ubl, Sam (June 23, 2004). "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Wire - 100 Most Important Records Ever Made". The Wire. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  4. ^ Dougan, John. "Artist Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Reynolds, Simon (2012). UK Post-Punk: Faber Forty-Fives: 1977–1982. Faber & Faber. 
  6. ^ a b Fisher, Mark. "Stealing Fire: The Pop Group's Y LP". Fact. Archived from the original on 18 March 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c Fitzgerald, Colin. "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever". PopMatters. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  8. ^ Dougan, John. "Y – The Pop Group". AllMusic. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Howard, Ed (March 22, 2004). "Top 101-200 Albums Favorite Albums Ever". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  10. ^ Manchester, Guy (2014). "Legendary Post Punk Band The Pop Group Release Video for Colour Blind". Louder Than War. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Rockerilla End of Year Lists". Rockerilla. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Wire - 100 Most Important Records Ever Made". The Wire. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  13. ^ "100 (+17) Alben". Spex. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  14. ^ "100 Best Albums by Decade". Il Mucchio Selvaggio. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  15. ^ "The 200 Best Albums of All Time". Rock de Lux. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  16. ^ "File Under Popular Music (4) – 100 or More Greatest Albums". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  17. ^ "600 Essential Albums". Blow Up. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  18. ^ "The 100 Greatest Debut Albums". Uncut. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  19. ^ "1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die". The Guardian. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  20. ^ Y (sleeve). The Pop Group. London, United Kingdom: Radar Records. 1979. 

External links[edit]