The Pop Group
Career[edit source | edit]Edit
Formed 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 Radar Records in March 1979.
Their debut album Y, was produced by Dennis Bovell to critical acclaim but low sales figures. 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 Catsis replacing Underwood on bass.
The band's career with Rough Trade commenced with what is possibly their best-known single "We Are All Prostitutes", which featuring a guest appearance by free improviser Tristan Honsinger on cello. This was followed by the release of their second album, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? in 1980, which included a contribution from US proto-rappers The Last Poets.
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), as well as a growing interest in exploring musical genres such as dub and funk rhythms.
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 firstly as Mark Stewart and Maffia, then as a solo artist.
It was reported on 24 May 2010 that the Pop Group would be reuniting. Stewart announced the first two dates of a reunion tour. Three members of the original line up were part of the reunion with two gigs in London and two in Italy initially confirmed. The band issued a statement explaining the reunion, saying "There was a lot left undone,....we were so young and volatile....Let's face it, things are probably even more fucked now than they were in the early 80's.....and we are even more fucked off!"
The Pop Group played live in Paris (for the first time) on 6 September 2010, at La Machine Du Moulin Rouge venue as part of "L'Etrange Festival" Film Festival which served as a kick off to their five date tour through Europe which included a London gig on New Year's Eve with Sonic Youth and Shellac.
In a 2010 interview, Stewart said that the reformed Pop Group was recording a new album, to be titled The Alternate.
Despite the group's lack of commercial success, they have been cited as an important influence in the development of alternative music in the 1980s; Mike Watt, of the Minutemen and, more recently, Nick Cave, have cited the Pop Group as an important source of inspiration on their own work.
Discography[edit source | edit]Edit
Albums[edit source | edit]Edit
- Y (April 1979, Radar Records; reissued on CD by Radar in 1996 and Rhino Records in 2007)
- For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? (March 1980, Rough Trade Records - included collaboration with The Last Poets)
- We Are Time (December 1980, Rough Trade semi-bootleg compilation of live tracks, demos and out-takes)
- We Are All Prostitutes (retrospective compilation album, 1998, Radar Records)
- Idealists In Distress from Bristol (official bootleg compilation album, 2007, Vinyl Japan, double CD, Japan only release)
Singles[edit source | edit]Edit
- "She Is Beyond Good and Evil" / "3.38" (March 1979, Radar Records)
- "We Are All Prostitutes" / "Amnesty International Report" (October 1979, Rough Trade Records)
- "Where There's A Will There's A Way" (March 1980, Rough Trade split release with The Slits: "In the Beginning There Was Rhythm")