The Pop Group

The Pop Group was an English post-punk band that released the 1979 single “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” and the album Y on Radar Records. They singed to Rough Trade for the single “We Are All Prostitutes” and the 1980 album For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? Guitarist–saxist Gareth Sager and drummer Bruce Smith formed Rip Rig + Panic.

Members: Mark Stewart (vocals), Gareth Sager (guitar, saxophone), Bruce Smith (drums, percussion), John Waddington (guitar, 1978-81), Simon Underwood (bass, 1978-80), Dan Catsis (bass, 1980-present)


Background

The Pop Group formed in Bristol in late 1977 when teenager Mark Stewart envisioned a musical hybrid of punk, funk, dub, and free jazz. He enlisted two classmates, guitarist John Waddington and bassist Simon Underwood; soon joined by drummer Bruce Smith and second guitarist Gareth Sager. In 1978, they cut an acetate of six songs:

A1. “Words Disobey Me”
A2. “We are Time”
A3. “Kiss the Book”
B1. “Sense of Purpose”
B2. “Trap”
B3. “Colour Blind”
B4. “Dreams”

They performed the first three songs for their sole session with BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel; recorded on July 3, 1978, and broadcast on August 10.

The Pop Group tackled the local live circuit and impressed Radar Records, a WEA-backed Liberty–UA spinoff label dedicated to new wave music (Bette Bright, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Yachts).


“She Is Beyond Good and Evil”

On March 9, 1979, The Pop Group released their debut single: “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” backed with “3.38,” both group-written numbers produced by reggae soundman Dennis Blackbeard Bovell.

A. “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” (3:23)
B. “3.38” (3:38)

The a-side appears on Sharp (16 Sharp New Rock Acts), a 1979 WEA comp with cuts by The Rezillos (“Cold Wars”), Television (“Ain’t That Nothing”), and Richard Hell & The Voidoids (“The Kid With The Replaceable Head”).


Y

The Pop Group released their first album, Y, on April 20, 1979, on Radar Records. It features nine group-written songs co-produced with Dennis Bovell.

1. “Thief of Fire” (4:35)
2. “Snowgirl” (3:20)
3. “Blood Money” (2:56)
4. “Savage Sea” (3:01)
5. “We Are Time” (6:29)

6. “Words Disobey Me” (3:25)
7. “Don’t Call Me Pain” (5:34)
8. “The Boys From Brazil” (4:15)
9. “Don’t Sell Your Dreams” (6:37)

Recorded 1978-1979
Studio Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey, England

Gareth Sager – guitar, saxophone, piano
Bruce Smith – drums, percussion
Mark Stewart – vocals
Simon Underwood – bass guitar
John Waddington – guitar

Disc O’Dell – musical direction
Dennis Bovell – production
Mike Dunne – engineering
Brian Gaylor – assistant engineering
Eddy Gorecki – mastering
The Pop Group – production

Y impressed Rough Trade, a London indie steeped in the radical end of post-punk (Cabaret Voltaire, Essential Logic, pragVEC, Scritti Politti). Underwood cleared out for Glaxo Babies bassist Dan Catsis.


“We Are All Prostitutes”

In November 1979, The Pop Group released their debut single: “We Are All Prostitutes,” an anti-consumerist song with a self-explanatory b-side.

A. “We Are All Prostitutes” (3:11)
B. “Amnesty International Report” (3:08)

“We Are All Prostitutes” appears on the 1979 Rough Trade singles comp Wanna Buy A Bridge?, which also features a-sides by Delta 5 (“Mind Your Own Business”), Robert Wyatt (“At Last I Am Free”), Scritti Politti (“Skank Bloc Bologna”), Spizz Energi (“Soldier Soldier”), Swell Maps (“Read About Seymour”), and the Young Marble Giants (“Final Day”).


“Where There’s A Will There’s A Way”

On March 14, 1980, The Pop Group released “Where There’s A Will There’s a Way” as part of a Rough Trade split single with “In The Beginning There Was Rhythm” by The Slits.

“Where There’s A Will There’s a Way” (5:11)


For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?

The Pop Group released their second album, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, on March 21, 1980, on Rough Trade.

1. “Forces of Oppression” (2:33)
2. “Feed the Hungry” (4:15)
3. “One Out of Many” (1:52)
4. “Blind Faith” (4:03)
5. “How Much Longer” (4:57)

6. “Justice” (3:06)
7. “There Are No Spectators” (4:13)
8. “Communicate” (4:40)
9. “Rob a Bank” (2:18)

Studio Foel Studios, Llanfair Caereinion, Powys
Dave Anderson – mixing, recording
The Pop Group – production, recording

The Last Poets – arrangements (3)

Dan Catsis – bass guitar
Gareth Sager – guitar, saxophone
Bruce Smith – drums, percussion
Mark Stewart – vocals
John Waddington – guitar

FHMLDWTMM reached No. 1 on the UK Indie Chart.


We Are Time

In June 1980, The Pop Group released We Are Time, a collection of demos, live numbers, and one cut (“Kiss the Book”) from their 1978 Peel session. The three demos (“Trap,” “Colour Blind,” “Sense of Purpose”) come from the 1978 acetate.


Album discography:

  • Y (1979)
  • For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? (1980)
  • We Are Time (1980)

Singles discography:

  • “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” / “3’38” (1979)
  • “We Are All Prostitutes” / “Amnesty International Report” (1979)
  • “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way” / “In the Beginning There Was Rhythm” (1980 • The Pop Group / The Slits)

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