The Pop Group

From Academic Kids

The Pop Group were a post punk band from Bristol, United Kingdom whose uncompromising, dissonant sound spanned punk, free jazz and dub reggae. Their lyrics were, more often than not, political in nature.

Formed in 1978 by Mark Stewart (lyrics, vocals), Jon Waddington (guitar), Gareth Sager (guitar), Simon Underwood (bass) and Bruce Smith (drums, percussion), they issued their debut single, She is Beyond Good and Evil on the 'Radar' label the following year.

Their debut album [[Y]],wasone of the earliest touchstones of the emerging post-punk sound. Produced by reggae veteran Dennis Bovell, the record is still cited today as one of the best of the era, although it is, at the time of writing, along with the rest of their discography, sadly out of print, save for an expensive import edition from the Japanese label Wea. A rarities compilation known as We Are All Prostitutes is also available on the Japanese label AK according to Amazon.com.

Although it did not chart, the album's success was sufficient to convince Rough Trade to sign the band, but not before more line-up changes, with Dan Katsis replacing Underwood on bass, and Tristan Honsinger joining on cello.

The band's career with Rough Trade commenced with what is possibly their best-known single, the angry 'We Are All Prostitutes', which preceded the release of their second album, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? in 1980. Apparently this album is also available on an Japanese import CD though it's exact status is not known save that it is quite rare.

The band split in 1981, after legal wranglings and internal squabblings ingulfed them somewhat, but that was not the end of their members' involvement in the music scene, with ex-members going on to form bands like Pigbag, Maximum Joy and Rip,Rig & Panic, the latter notable for the involvement of a young Neneh Cherry.

Singer Mark Stewart, meanwhile, collaborated with the On-U Sound posse, issuing records firstly as Mark Stewart and the Mafia, then as a solo artist.

The Pop Group are often credited with founding the Bristol scene that would later spawn trip-hop.

Discography

  • Y (1979,Radar Records)
  • "She Is Beyond Good and Evil" (1979, Radar Records)
  • For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? (1980, Rough Trade Records- includes collaboration with The Last Poets)
  • "We Are All Prostitutes" (1980, Rough Trade Records)
  • "Where There's A Will..." (1980, Rough Trade (split release with The Slits' "In the Beginning There Was Rhythm"))
  • We Are Time (1980, Rough Trade semi- bootleg compliation of live tracks, demos and out-takes)
  • We Are All Prostitutes (1980, Radar Records (retrospective compilation))

Sources: The Great Alternative and Indie Discography (Martin C Strong)

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