The Pop Group
Guy Lochhead, 11/09/10
Bristol post-punk group formed in 1978 and playing a dissonant sound incorporating punk, free jazz, funk, dub, gamelan with other, truly global, influences and often politically-concerned lyrics. Their first album, ‘Y’, was produced by reggae veteran Dennis Bovell and released in 1979. They followed this with one more album, ‘For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?’. They broke up in 1981 into numerous bands that went some way to starting the ‘Bristol sound’ scene that spawned ‘trip-hop’. The Pop Group are brilliant. They were ahead of their time – ‘post-punk’ before punk had died its first death. They understood the value of the connecting power of popular music and collaborated with numerous underground visionaries all over the world, like the Last Poets, The Slits and Tristan Honsinger. The lyrics were always biting, critical and conscious, but with a vein of humour that stopped everything from falling into industrial pity, and fitted well with the more upbeat, funky side to their sound. I will include their first album, Y, because it was released so early and preempted so many developments that are still yet to unfold fully. I feel as though the more direct lyrics of later releases ‘For How Much Longer…’ and ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ are perhaps more worthy of including, but the fact the music became slightly more conventional and the second album is now out of print and trading for huge amounts of money among collectors dissuades me.

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