ORGAN THING: The Pop Group, an unheard recording, unearthed after 40 years, hear it here ahead of some sound art happening this week, that and other bits of trumpet blowing, well what would Joan Jett do?


Organ Thing of The Day? Blood Money? Got to pay the rent?  We are all what? “Hi, Quick one to see if you might have space for a news story for the Blood Money video and Rough Trade events incoming…  Everybody has their price, what would Joan Jett do?


Emma Harvey – What Would Joan Jett Do?

Here we go then, the glorious thing that is THE POP GROUP “have released a brand new film to accompany ‘Blood Money (Slow Thief)’. This totally unheard recording, unearthed after 40 yearsis being released on forthcoming album Alien Blood, part of the definitive edition of their highly influential and innovative debut, Y, to be released on Mute on 1 November 2019.”Watch the film here


Here’s the lazy cut’n paste of the press release thing for today things aver very busy, there’s chips, there’s Joan Jett, there’s Starz that need to be rocked at least six times…


Ahead of its release, The Quietus (The what? Where were they in the days before the Internet when it was a lot tougher to get the word out? We jest of course, thank heaves for The Quetus) will hold a playback of the remastered album at their forthcoming Social on 29 October and Rough Trade will host a series of events across their shops under the banner Salon Y, An evening of assemblage, provocations & auto destructive sound art curated by The Pop GroupLondon’s event on 1 November will feature a Mark Stewart and Gareth Sager performance in the shape of a short slice of Y soundart stylee, with special guests Dennis Bovell, Dick O’Dell, Eric Random, Hifi Twins and David Ellis; Nottingham’s event 4 November will see Mark Stewart and Gareth Sager perform, and the evening will feature special guest Eric Random. Bristol’s hometown event on 5 November will see Mark Stewart and Gareth Sager joined by the artist Rich Beale, Dick O’Dell will be reminiscing and there will be a live performance from Slag Heap.
The film was created by the artist and filmmaker Peter Harris, Mark Stewart and the animator Llyr Williams. Peter Harris’s documentary Hymn was screened at The National Film theatre, and his longest standing collaborative work has been with Jamaican legend Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, working together on film, paintings and music. Stewart sent Harris a series of images (including an old advert for novelty rubber masks), which were then used to create a collection of nightmarish scenarios, evoked by collaged fragments assembled before the camera in extreme close-up. The light flickers like old nitrate film passing through a projector – at any point the whole thing might explode. The macro view distorts what we are looking at beyond all recognition – or almost all. The something that remains is visceral, violent, rotting. But visceral as all this is, there is humour here too. Like the distortions evoked in the eye by a Rorschach blot, what we see is a macabre reflection of the dark underbelly of our own psyche. There is mystery as well as beauty in these tantalising, blown-up forms – the way they tumble, ooze and knot – the super-detail that gives its all but refuses to identify itself. This is a film as playful as it is inventive.
To mark the 40th anniversary of Y’s original release, the album has been remastered and cut at half-speed at Abbey Road, and the band are releasing two limited edition vinyl box sets that include the original album, the 12” of their landmark single ‘She Is Beyond Good & Evil’ and two additional albums Alien Blood and Y Live, as well as an extensive booklet and art prints. The super deluxe version of the box set limited to 500 copies will include 180gm Inca gold vinyl pressings with two signed prints.There is also a 3CD format of remastered Y and the two additional albums.
Originally released on 20 April 1979, represents a stunning culmination of The Pop Group’s crucial nonconformity. Preceded by a meteoric rise in recognition, firmly realised the latent potential of the group’s early years. From playing Bristol youth clubs to early gigs supporting Pere Ubu and Patti Smith to gracing the front covers of NME and Melody Maker, The Pop Group’s progression to the forefront had been swift. With the recording of YThe Pop Group were to build on the promise of these earlier experiences and of their first recordings, delivering a debut album that transcends most, if not all, classification and one that exists in a league of its own.
Recorded in 1978, the Y sessions were conducted at Ridge Farm in Dorking, Surrey, an experience the band’s bassist Simon Underwood now characterises as “an intense and electrifying journey of creative exploration and experimentation”.
The album was produced by dub maestro Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell, with Y becoming his first non-reggae project. The group’s decision to collaborate with Bovell is emblematic of the risk and range found on Y, where tracks are adeptly moulded with reverb, delays, tape loops and a range of other studio treatments. The results corral all of the captivating mixing desk ingenuity that Bovell had been previously applying to UK reggae and lovers rock, making for a record that ventures into altogether unchartered territory.
As well as the feats of engineering applied by Bovell, the group were, as their then manager Dick O’Dell now recalls, “bursting with creativity”. The product of this creativity was drawn from a wide pool of influences, running from punk, dub, reggae, free jazz and funk to impressionism, chanson and avant-garde experimentalism. On these touchstones are channeled, disassembled and reconstructed in blistering new permutations.
The 10-track album Alien Blood is the result of The Pop Group revisiting the original 2” tapes of their studio sessions and recordings. This meticulous process has unearthed never-before-heard material, including the studio recording of ‘Kiss The Book’ and ‘We Are Time (Ricochet)’, described by The Pop Group guitarist Gareth Sager as the version “with the gloves off, all moves allowed, applied and approved”. The exploration of these studio sessions has brought to light the raw and skeletal elements that exist on album tracks. On ‘Words Disobey Me (Dennis The Menace Mix)’ the sheer force of the rhythm is revealed whilst ‘Thief of Fire (Bass Addict)’ exposes the track’s original velocity. Altogether Alien Blood reveals the life of before everything was finalised, exposing revelatory dimensions within these iconic works.
The Y Live album is an essential addendum to the original release, one that captures all the fierce urgency of The Pop Group’s Y era live performances. Comprised of recordings captured at a variety of locations including New York, London, Sheffield and Manchester, Y Live exemplifies what had proved so thrilling about The Pop Group. A snapshot of a time when the group were sharing stages with future acolytes including Cabaret Voltaire, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Public Image Ltd, Mark Stewart describes the album as a document of performances that were attempting to “paint the impossible”.
Combining the visionary lyrics of Mark Stewart, the convulsive rhythms and instrumentation of Gareth Sager, Bruce Smith, John Waddington and Simon Underwood, and the unconventional production expertise of Dennis Bovell, soon became a pivotal and epochal classic. In the years since release its relevance has stood undiminished; an accomplishment that has lost none of its fearless sense of ambition and attack.
Together this definitive reissue of Y, ‘She Is Beyond Good & EvilAlien Blood and Y Live affirms The Pop Group’s status as a group that have consistently stretched the boundaries of what is conceivable. With this extensive reissue one of their finest and most celebrated achievements is renewed and expanded.
On Y The Pop Group were: Mark Stewart (vocals, lyrics), Gareth Sager (guitar, saxophone, clarinet, piano, organ), John Waddington (guitar, bass guitar), Simon Underwood (bass guitar) and Bruce Smith (drums, percussion)
Those Rough Trade events and links
Friday 1 November, Rough Trade East, London
Monday 4 November, Rough Trade Nottingham
Tuesday 5 November, Rough Trade Bristol
Meanwhile, nothing what so ever to do with The Pop Group, but if we don’t blow our own trumpets then who will?  We have an outburst coming up, a month of shows, another Columbia Road Takeover, three Cultivate shows  that will take in all of November at East London’s rather well proportioned Shipton Street Gallery.  The gallery, in a former greengrocer’s shop by Columbia Road, the Flower Market and everything that that involves and this time the month-long November takeover of the space. We kick off with a short sharp two day show over the first weekend, no opening night, no private view, just a a shorty sharp two day show opening on Saturday morning and closing on Sunday evening.  Harvey and Worrall – Chips, Starz, What Would Joan Jett Do? will open on Saturday November 2nd and close on Sunday November 3rd, 11am until 5pm on both days.

One thought on “ORGAN THING: The Pop Group, an unheard recording, unearthed after 40 years, hear it here ahead of some sound art happening this week, that and other bits of trumpet blowing, well what would Joan Jett do?

  1. Pingback: ORGAN THING: ‘Y in Dub’ a dynamic dub reconstruction of The Pop Group’s formidable debut album ‘Y’ is on the way, hear a first taste here… | THE ORGAN

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