Montag, 1. November 2021

The Pop Group - We Are Time (1980)

Some artists churn out records for decades and leave behind little of significance. Others record little and leave a substantial legacy. The Pop Group belongs in that second category, releasing two studio albums and the odds-and-ends collection "We Are Time" during a three-year life span. When it becomes de rigueur to call an obscure band "seminal," it's worth reiterating why that band is important and reinvesting the cliché with some meaning. 

The Pop Group was among a handful of acts that harnessed the energy of punk, truly recognized the possibilities it opened up, and took music in exciting directions. The band used punk's back-to-basics ethos as a springboard for experimentation with funk, dub, and jazz, blending dance rhythms and rock in ways that continue to inspire artists. They also politicized rock with an intensity and urgency that put rebel poseurs like the Clash to shame. 

In addition to different versions of already available tracks, "We Are Time" features previously unreleased live, studio, and radio-session material. Demos from 1978 like "Trap" and "Sense of Purpose" display the frenetic rhythms, jagged guitars, and free jazz inclinations that would be further explored on the 1979 debut album. Taken to the brink by Mark Stewart's wailing vocals and Gareth Sager's squalling sax, the searing "We Are Time" and the staccato punk-funk rush of "Thief of Fire" show the band was as strong live as in the studio. The unlikely standout is "Amnesty Report" -- an alternate version of a 1979 B-side -- featuring Stewart's shouted recitation of an "Amnesty International Report on British Army Torture of Irish Prisoners" set to a fierce, heavily funky soundtrack. The Pop Group's official studio releases alone contained a wealth of musical ideas that still resonate. "We Are Time" simply confirms that the "seminal band" clichés are justified.


1 Trap 4:17
2 Thief Of Fire 3:56
3 Genius Or Lunatic 3:52
4 Colour Blind 4:06
5 Spanish Inquisition 3:21
6 Kiss The Book 2:47
7 Amnesty Report 2:41
8 Springer 1:09
9 Sense Of Purpose 4:24
10 We Are Time 7:12

(192 kbps, cover art included)

3 Kommentare:

hat gesagt…

Once more you feature one of my favorite bands. Thanks for sharing this with us all.

In 2010, the Pop Group reunited with three of the original five members: Mark Stewart, Gareth Sager, & Bruce Smith. In February 2015 they released Citizen Zombie, their first studio album in 35 years. In 2016 they worked on new material with producer Dennis Bovell & released Honeymoon on Mars in October 2016.

Thanks again for all you do here.

Lucky hat gesagt…

Fantastic review - esp. the part about The Clash, hehe (I always thought there were wankers). The record came with a blank white cover, with a whole for the Y Records label. The Slits fantastic album on Y looks just the same - plus: it had no real title, you had to pick it from the random scribbles on the label... what a great idea! Punk offered possibilities, but only a few really took them. The Pop Group were definately one of them (Kleenex/LiLiPUT and The Raincoats were 2 others).


zero hat gesagt…

Thanks a lot for your comments and your interest. Lucky, you mention some of my favourite artists of that time!

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