April 11, 2007

The Pop Group – Y (Re-issue)

Filed under: Hype,Music — Ben-yr-arur @ 2:22 pm

[Radar; 1979, Rhino; 2007]

A good 28 years after its original release, a much-needed re-issue of The Pop Group’s “Y” has arrived on our shelves. Previously only available for extortionate prices, this was an album that had been crying out for a re-release for years. And let me tell you something, it’s certainly been worth the wait.

The fiery band burst onto the scene with Y, their debut, boasting a quite wholly sound; they hammer together funk, jazz, punk, dub-reggae and most impressively make it work. The band wore their firebrand hearts on their sleeve (“Our only defence is together as an army / I’ll hold you like a gun”) and were by no-means afraid to tell people what they thought.

The album opens with the sharp guitar notes of “She is Beyond Good and Evil,” which is the only song on the album that comes close to matching up with their rather ironic name. This album is anything but “Pop” and shortly after the first two brilliant songs are over and the rushed piano noises of “Snowgirl” and the screaming guitars mixed with wailing voices of “Blood money” hit you it’s obvious that it’s not going to be a comfortable listen. The album then pushes on, breaking barriers and revolutionising the sound of punk as it goes as if nothing is happening. “We are Time” comes slap-bang in the middle of the record and represents everything that is good about the group. A ridiculously infectious bass and lead guitar line combination slalom throughout the course of the album-defining song. All the while, drums rattle in and out and Mark Stewart screams memorable lyrics in an almost desperate manner “I, You, We, Are Time.” It wouldn’t surprise me if the band themselves actually believed that they were time; this album is so ahead of it’s time and groundbreaking it’s astounding. The band continue to rampage through the album continuing to defy genre, their sounds ranging from the frantic guitars of “Words Disobey Me” to ambient piano number “Savage Sea.” The album is finally capped off with the somewhat subdued “Don’t Sell Your Dreams” in which the band use reverb and mixed vocals to their full effect and leave their personal imprint on the listener.

One thing that’s always amazed me about this album is the quite ridiculous production, and in its new re-mastered form it manages to sound even more amazing. The production makes the band sound almost otherworldly and eerily distant as if they are trapped in a vast cave with their own sounds echoing around them.

By no means an easy listen, but once you have given it the time to sink in you can begin to probe through its many layers. It’s incredible that even after numerous listens this album seems to throw out new sounds each time I put it in again, and now that this has all been re-mastered it sounds even better than ever. There is also a bonus track, this is the b-side to “She is Beyond Good and Evil” and is essentially the a-side in reverse with the vocals stripped away. This again represents how innovative the band really were.

There are no longer any excuses as for not owning this album. Go forth and buy!

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