Tell me about the Pop Group

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toomanyhatz
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Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby toomanyhatz » 28 Nov 2007, 10:36

I love Gang of Four, Television, Wire, Pere Ubu- that sort of angular, trebly, high-chorded rhythm guitar stuff that's kind of jagged and sharp, for lack of another way to put it- and the Pop Group has often been linked with them. Also a huge influence on my beloved Minutemen.

Thing is, I've heard very very little by them. I think I heard a few tracks years ago and liked them, but I don't think I've heard anything since. They've just sort of passed me by, though I've always wanted to check them out.

Considering the above, should I be checking them out? How do they intersect with those groups, or is there something about them that's different from any of the above? And if so, what?
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby The Modernist » 28 Nov 2007, 16:11

Can't say too much right now as I'm off to bed to sleep off the flu before going back to work to put on something until 9.
er.. but anyway! Here's "She's Beyond Good And Evil" probably their best known track. I really love the combination of Stewart's deranged rantings with the fragmented but surprisingly funky choppy backing. I think they did this kind of thing more imaginatively than anyone. The Gang Of Four used funk stylings and motifs in their music, but you felt The Pop Group were involved in a real exploration of these sounds and textures; it wasn't just trendy musical window dressing.


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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby bobzilla77 » 28 Nov 2007, 18:55

I want to hear more, the CDs are very difficult to get in the US & expensive if you do find em. I did manage to get hold of a comp called We Are All Prostitutes which is very good. Feel free to cough in my general direction. Based on what you say about Ubu & GoF I'd say you need to give a listen.

DD made a comment about PiL Metal Box being "unremitting in its un-musicality", and that applies to these dudes as well.
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby Sneelock » 28 Nov 2007, 19:05

pig bodine wrote:The Pop Group was incredibly harsh and ugly--they made the Gang Of Four sound like Depeche Mode--of course they were great. Well Y was great, Mass Murder was good. Mark Stewart's solo stuff was pretty decent as well.


I think "Learning to Cope with Cowardice" is an amazing record.

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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby Magilla » 28 Nov 2007, 19:29

toomanyhatz wrote:I love Gang of Four, Television, Wire, Pere Ubu...

Considering the above, should I be checking them out? How do they intersect with those groups, or is there something about them that's different from any of the above? And if so, what?


Pretty much everyone I know who loves those bands also loves The Pop Group. They are very intense and "difficult" to those for whom post-punk isn't their thing, but if you want to check out a band as good as those you named, The Pop Group are a must.
The rhythm section played a sort of avant-funk while the guitars played truly harsh, serated lines. Now imagine that, but with a lo-fi, dub production and you have one great sound. (Y was produced by British dub / reggae legend Dennis "Blackbeard" Bovell).
It's a demanding sound, you have to go to them on their terms, rather than expecting them to come to you on yours, but once you "get" them, you'll find it's very rewarding. If you can handle Wire and Gang Of Four's most ugly, intense songs, you'll like The Pop Group.

I must also highly recommend The Fire Engines and Josef K, two Scottish bands who existed at about the same time. In effect, The Fire Engines were the blue-print for Franz Ferdinand. Imagine FF, but with a much less sophisticated production and a far nastier, more abrasive sound. Josef K were more poppy and melodic, but still with an angular, spiky approach. As a generalisation, imagine Orange Juice covering White Light / White Heat.
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby Razinho » 28 Nov 2007, 19:39

You don't mention the Voidoids in this list. An oversight, another gap in your collection, or do you just not rate them?
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toomanyhatz
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby toomanyhatz » 28 Nov 2007, 19:48

Razinho wrote:You don't mention the Voidoids in this list. An oversight, another gap in your collection, or do you just not rate them?


Gap.

Should they be next?
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby Jeff K » 28 Nov 2007, 20:47

Well of course I like them but then you probably assumed I would, Dave. As others have said, they are very abrasive and all the other post-punk groups you mentioned sound tame compared to the Pop Group. The most remarkable thing about them was how young they were when they made 'Y". I think Mark Stewart was only 18. They may take a few listens and are certainly not easy on the ears but rewarding if you're in the mood.
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby This Here Dream Machine » 28 Nov 2007, 21:07

toomanyhatz wrote:
Razinho wrote:You don't mention the Voidoids in this list. An oversight, another gap in your collection, or do you just not rate them?


Gap.

Should they be next?


I'd put "Blank Generation" ahead of any record you can get by the Pop Group, but that's just me.

I like the Pop Group, but be warned (or intrigued) that they are perhaps the most misnamed band on modern history. (Where'd that thread go, anyway?) They make the Birthday Party sound like the Carpenters.
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby Razinho » 28 Nov 2007, 22:30

Start with Blank Generation by the Voidoids. I'd say they're closer to Television than to the other bands listed. No surprise, as Hell was in the original line-up of Television, and a fair few of the BG songs were originally performed by Television.

I heard a neat story about Sire (I think that was their label) trying to copyright the tablature for it's entire back catalogue a few years back, and giving up when they got to BG. I don't know if that's true but I'd like to think that it is. Bob Quine - the same guy who was responsible for some bootlegs of the earliy, early Velvet Underground - was an amazing guitarist. Completely off the wall. The other guitarist Ivan Julian was pretty hot too. He played on Build Me Up Buttercup before punk, I believe.

There's a decent Hell compilation called Spurts, but personally I'd go for Time, which is a real mish-mash of demos with The Heartbreakers when he was in the first line-up of that band with Johnny Thunders, early Voidsoids stuff, some demos for the second album (which, as I've said before, are better than the album itself by far), and some obscure late jazz stuff.

The second album is alomst impossible to get hold of in the UK, and hardly worthwhile when you do.

Overall, I'd say the Voidoids were a harder-edged Television. There's the same underlying jazz influence, brilliant-clever lyrics, outrageously good guitar. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Hell had stayed in Television. They would have at least have had a better pool of songs for the second album. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Richard Lloyd had left the band alongside Hell, and he'd managed to actually get some of his own tunes recorded with a proper band rather than just in the course of a Who-Cares? solo career. Sometimes I just think that I should stop staring at my navel and just get a girlfriend. Ah, whatever - Blank Generation is a top album.

Oh, and http://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/richardhell.htm says it better than I could.
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toomanyhatz
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby toomanyhatz » 17 Jan 2009, 22:57

Just wanted to say I found a used copy of Y and am digging the hell out of it. Particularly "We are Time" and "Words Disobey Me." It's that jagged sort of white boy funk noise that I really like, though as several here have said, it's several steps rougher going than a lot of their peers. Missing the Wilko influence that was one of the things I liked about Gang of Four, but more of a dub and avant-garde kind of thing happening. I hear the influence on the Minutemen and the similarities to PiL (and to a lesser extent early Pere Ubu).

Don't know if I ever said, but I also picked up Blank Generation shortly after this thread based on several recommendations (including here). This place is great for discovering 30-year-old music. :lol:
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby LeBaron » 17 Jan 2009, 23:01

Oh heavens, I'll have to look out for this! How did I not know?
For what it's worth, I would never think of the Voidoids together with Pere Ubu and Gang of Four and PiL or whatever.
Maybe I'm missing the link.
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby Jeff K » 17 Jan 2009, 23:13

Ol' Dirty Baron wrote:Oh heavens, I'll have to look out for this! How did I not know?
For what it's worth, I would never think of the Voidoids together with Pere Ubu and Gang of Four and PiL or whatever.
Maybe I'm missing the link.


Me neither. The Voidoids are nothing like those groups. If you're looking for someone who could be considered the American equivalent to the Pop Group, I'd suggest somebody like Chrome or the no wave bands.

I'm glad you're digging the Pop Group, Dave. I wasn't sure how they'd grab you. They're not for everybody, that's for sure.
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Re: Tell me about the Pop Group

Postby bixhenry » 17 Jan 2009, 23:36

I remember hearing and liking them years ago, and kind of rediscovering them when I got into Adrian Sherwood and Tackhead (whose lead singer was Mark Stewart, and Tackhead were absolutely electrifying live when I saw them in the late '80s). But I haven't heard The Pop Group in years; perhaps I'll check 'em out again.
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