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Amazon's The Pop Group Store

Music

Image of album by The Pop Group

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Biography

The Pop Group formed in Bristol in 1977 out of a sense of disenchantment with the increasing conservatism of punk.

Drawing on an eclectic range of influences from free jazz, conscious funk, heavyweight dub to avant-garde experimentalism, alongside contemporaries like Public Image Limited, This Heat and Throbbing Gristle, they were at the forefront of a musical period marked out by its ... Read more in Amazon's The Pop Group Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (22 April 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Radar
  • ASIN: B000006ZNJ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 352,479 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By kaysixone on 12 Mar. 2002
Format: Audio CD
The Pop Group started in late 1970's Bristol, inspired by the Sex Pistols but already looking way beyond punk to see how far their imaginations could take them. Produced by dub master Dennis Bovell (also responsible for producing the Slits' first album around the same time) and featuring a young Mark Springer on piano, "Y" fuses together elements from rock, reggae, dub, funk, jazz and who knows what else with bleakly poetic lyrics (and plenty of primal screaming) from vocalist Mark Stewart.

The first track on my cd copy is actually their first single "She is beyond good and evil" which caused quite a stir at the time but sounds comparatively lightweight next to the album proper, which begins with "Thief of fire". Bovell's production is crucial. As well as harnessing the band's raw energy and ensuring that their predilection for extremes of volume and pitch never spirals out of control, he makes the whole thing sound like it was recorded in some sort of primordial echo chamber. "Snowgirl" is probably the most successful track, with its haunting theme and chaotic semi-improvised sequences seamlessly disintegrating into moments of quiet beauty; but it's all compelling, if uneasy listening.
The original lp includes a large poster featuring a collage of images indicating the band's moral and ideological concerns, but it's the music which did the talking on this album. Unfortunately they never managed to recapture that initial spark on their few subsequent releases where the music became a vehicle for their often tedious political sloganeering (mind you, their manic single "We are all prostitutes" is also a personal favourite).
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By bamba on 8 April 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
wonderful sperimentation
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
STUNNING 12 Mar. 2002
By kaysixone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Pop Group started in late 1970's Bristol (UK), inspired by the Sex Pistols but already looking way beyond punk to see how far their imaginations could take them. Produced by dub master Dennis Bovell (also responsible for producing the Slits' first album around the same time) and featuring a young Mark Springer on piano, "Y" fuses together elements from rock, reggae, dub, funk, jazz and who knows what else with bleakly poetic lyrics (and plenty of primal screaming) from vocalist Mark Stewart.

The first track on this reissue is actually their first single "She is beyond good and evil" which caused quite a stir at the time but sounds comparatively lightweight next to the album proper, which begins with "Thief of fire". Bovell's production is crucial. As well as harnessing the band's raw energy and ensuring that their predilection for extremes of volume and pitch never spirals out of control, he makes the whole thing sound like it was recorded in some sort of primordial echo chamber. "Snowgirl" is probably the most successful track, with its haunting theme and chaotic semi-improvised sequences seamlessly disintegrating into moments of quiet beauty, but it's all compelling, if uneasy listening.
The original lp included a large poster featuring a collage of images indicating the band's moral and ideological concerns, but it's the music which did the talking on this album. Unfortunately they never managed to recapture that initial spark on their few subsequent releases where the music became a vehicle for their often tedious political sloganeering (mind you, their manic single "We are all prostitutes" is also a personal favourite).

Of course the various members of the Pop Group went on to form a multitude of other, generally more lightweight groups like Pigbag, Maximum Joy, Rip Rig & Panic (featuring a young Neneh Cherry) etc. Stewart bucked this trend by continuing his journey into paranoia, despair and torment with albums like "Learning to cope with cowardice" (an excellent sequel to �Y�). Their experiments also influenced a new generation of Bristol musicians (Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead etc) but you'll never hear anything that sounds quite like this.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
WORDS DISOBEY ME 10 Feb. 2004
By Larry L. Looney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
That line - the title of one of the songs on this album - perfectly describes my dilemma in attempting to write a review of this recording. I can think of few albums that have picked me up, shaken me, thrown me against the wall and opened my heart and mind as beautifully and powerfully as this one. I only wish that the other albums by this band were available on cd - especially their incredible FOR HOW MUCH LONGER DO WE TOLERATE MASS MURDER. Combining elements of rock, punk, funk, free jazz and downright mind-blowing experimentation in a way that can only be described as courageous, The Pop Group burst onto the UK music scene with this, their first release, in 1979 - and my mind, for one, hasn't been the same since.
The band was made up of some angry young men who - depending on your point of view - were stellar musicians who managed to put across their musical/social/political ideas in an incredibly effective manner, or were political/social idealists who managed to make their musical talents perform those ideas in a way to convey them so eloquently and emotionally to their listeners. It's actually a bit of both, with lots of other elements thrown into the mix.
It's hard to say that the band was `fronted' by Mark Stewart's inimitable vocals - but let's call it that for the sake of argument. He has a voice that is unique and unmistakable - once you hear him in any setting, you'll recognize him in another (and he has performed in other ensembles, both during The Pop Group's existence and afterwards). Stewart croons, shrieks, growls, coos and more - he THROWS his voice at the listener, and the listener better be ready to catch it. Utilizing mixing and performing techniques of dub artists along with his already-formidable vocal palette, Stewart creates an atmosphere of intensity, alternately powered and driven by anger, love, fear, dread, and a whole range of other equally powerful emotions.
Instrumentally, the band is as unique as Stewart is vocally. Gareth Sager performs on guitar, piano, and saxophone - his love of free jazz artists such as the great Roland Kirk is evident in his technique (as well as in the heart-wrenching abandon/control combination of his playing). Bruce Smith (drums) and Simon Underwood (bass) lay down one of the greatest foundations you're ever likely to hear anywhere. John Waddington's guitar completes the audio picture, sending cascades of slashing rhythms across the mix. The whole thing is really, really indescribable. The overall feel, believe it or not (for those who have never heard this band) is steamingly funky - but make no mistake about it, this is NOT mindless dance music. There are multiple, intense and VITAL messages to be found in the band's lyrics - they address political and social issues that concern them (and should concern us all) without flinching or pulling any punches.
This cd release contains the entire album as it was originally released, with the addition of `She is beyond good and evil', the band's first (I think) single. Take a chance, take a dive, and experience this - AND TURN IT UP!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Y Review?.........uncompromising 4 Mar. 2002
By Dub_Head - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Please don't sell your dreams.......
The leap from the punk thing to "Y" was way larger than the leap from Led Zeppelin to the Sex Pistols.
I probably won't buy this CD (although my vinyl copy is pretty worn out) but if you haven't heard it before, I urge you to pick it up. How did a bunch of kids from Bristol transform the UK music scene in 1979? The repercussions are still echoing around, think: Massive Attack, Tricky, Goldfrapp and any amount of bands from the 80's. The input from dub legend Dennis Bovell can not be understated (imagine Joy Division without Martin Hannett) but the passion was the boys' alone - if you had seen them play live at the time ( I did 5 times ) you would know Mark Stewart wasn't faking it! Of course band members went on to form Rip Rig and Panic, Pigbag, Glaxo Babies, Maximun Joy to name a few, and then the whole Adrian Sherwood scene......
Looks like this version has a bonus first track of the amazing "she is beyond good and evil" released originally as a 7" and the cover is a pretty good reproduction of the original (minus the Japanese)
Highly recommended - in fact it's my all time favorite album
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Pure genius 20 Oct. 2002
By Dave Lang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In a day and age when just about every esoteric oddity from recorded history is given a deluxe reissue to bring it forth to new generations of keen listeners, it beggars belief as to why this 1979 masterpiece only exists as a rather expensive Japanese import, but onto other matters...
The Pop Group's debut will always have a special place in my heart and eardrums. I purchased my own secondhand vinyl copy as a 19 year-old back in 1991, and have never looked back. "Y" is simply one of rock's all-time essential groundbreaking albums. A motley crew of disgruntled Bristol teenagers who were inspired by everything from British punk (though perhaps not so much musically), Situationism, Fela Kuti, Jamaican dub, electric Miles Davis, John Cage, the Last Poets, Abbie Hoffman, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, James Brown and many other gems, their anarchic stew of barely-together deconstructed rock, abstract funk, heavy dub reverb and chaotic, free-jazz-inspired rhythms still sends a chill down my spine today.
The overall package of "Y", its cryptic cover, its lyrical themes of corruption, lies, despair and alienation, the howling, desperate vocals of Mark Stewart and the amazing (and huge) fold-out poster that accompanies the LP combine to make up a truly alien piece of work that seems to exist within its own universe. Tracks like "Snowgirl" (part avant-garde show tune, part looming dirge), the anthemic "We Are Time" (7+ minutes of intense dub-inflected angst) and the closing screams of "Don't Sell Your Dreams" are permanently scorched on my brain.
The Pop Group, like most groundbreakers, never made a dent commercially, though proved to be highly influential on the likes of Nick Cave's Birthday Party (Cave himself has repeatedly said that witnessing The Pop Group live for the first time twisted his brain in ways previously thought unimaginable, and has listed The Pop Group's "We Are All Prostitutes" 7" as the greatest song of the 20th century) and LA's seminal Minutemen (Mike Watt still plays Pop Group covers live to this day), as well as the Bristol scene of the '80s/'90s (Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead, etc.).
A simply brilliant, essential, unforgettable debut.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An album totally unlike anything else. 31 Oct. 2006
By R. Ballard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is an album that could easily be the soundtrack to an insane asylum. And that's a compliment. It's at turns dark, manic, creepy, funky, thought-provoking and even downright scary. But always fascinating.

It's also one of the single greatest alternative rock records I've ever heard.

It's an album so radical, it's impossible to describe exactly what it's like to listen to. The first cut, "She Is Beyond Good And Evil" is as close to accessible as this album gets. From there it takes a sharp left turn into the world of weird. Vocalist Mark Stewart groans, wails, grunts, and sputters with such manic conviction that you wonder if the man is playing with a full deck. In addition to the stunning musical inventiveness on display, the recording itself is a just as important piece of the final work of art. The effects are instruments unto themselves, frequently spinning the sound of the instruments into twisted, otherworldly sounds never heard on record. The musical elements draw from punk, reggae, jazz, disco, and ancient forms of music to form an album that's as unsettling and strange as it's cover art.

If you're a musical thrillseeker with an open mind and a taste for the esoteric... If the staples in your musical diet include The Minutemen, Pere Ubu, Gang Of Four, Nick Cave, and some avant-garde jazz, miss this one at your peril.
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