Last October The Pop Group played the Bodega in Nottingham. They weren’t a band I had thought a lot about for a few years but there was quite a buzz about the prospect. They had briefly played again in 2010 after a long break stretching back to the 1980’s.
When they first came to prominence in 1977/78 I didn’t really notice them – they were the intelligent arm of the punk movement, I was still at school and listening to NWOBHM bands and Queen. Later though they were one of the more admired bands at art school, along with Talking Heads, Television and other British post-punk bands like Gang of Four & Wire.
They entered more mainstream media through a t-shirt rather than for music with their ‘We are all Prostitutes’ song and Thatcher baiting design marking them out as anti-capitalist revolutionaries.
Their 1977 debut album ‘Y’ and 1980 album ‘We Are Time’ went on to influence many later artists with their own multiple reference points and use of Jamaican dub production, jazz tones and urban alienation. This was their debut single.
At the Bodega gig they had Sleaford Mods as their support. Given their confrontational nature it seemed telling that the main act had a good deal of confidence in their own ability to stand up and be noticed. This from Drowned In Sound “….the addition of singles ‘She Is Beyond Good And Evil’ and ‘Where There’s A Will There’s A Way’ alongside breakthrough seven-inch ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ during the encore provides the “greatest hits” moments. If such a thing exists within The Pop Group’s canon. But then that also exemplifies why their relevance in 2014 remains unabated. Uncompromising, unnerving and brutal as ever. Long may it continue”. The majority of the gig was taken by songs from ‘We Are Time’, that track here.
A month or so after the gig a new album was announced and promoted through PledgeMusic, a direct to fan funding stream for artists that want to maintain independence. My copy of Citizen Zombie arrived today and its a marvellous thing – in fact I’m on my third end to end listen. The same diverse list of influences are there, from twinkly almost ‘prog’ keyboard parts, chugging punk guitar, dub heavy bass and Mark Stewarts manic screams and biting political lyrics. This is music for the collapsing ConDem nation, music for Syriza & Podermos, and it arrived just in time.
This is the recent video for ‘Mad Truth’. This is an absolute treat of an album.They are touring again in March in the east & the US and May in UK. Highly recommended if you can get to see them.