The Pop Group Release New Film

THE POP GROUP have released a brand new film to accompany “Blood Money (Slow Thief).”
The Pop Group photo by Brian Griffin

THE POP GROUP have released a brand new film to accompany “Blood Money (Slow Thief).” The recording – unearthed after 40 years – is being released on the forthcoming release Alien Blood, part of the definitive edition of their highly influential and innovative debut, Y, to be released on Mute beginning November 1st.

The “Blood Money (Slow Thief)” 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. 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, and rotting. But visceral as all this is, there is humor 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 tantalizing, 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.

Remastered and cut at half-speed at Abbey Road to mark the 40th anniversary of Y’s original release, the band are releasing two limited edition box sets that include the original album, the 12” of “She Is Beyond Good & Evil” and two additional albums: Alien Blood and Y Live, as well as an extensive booklet and art prints. A super deluxe version of the box set limited to 500 copies will include 180gm Inca gold vinyl pressings with two signed prints.

MORE ABOUT THE POP GROUP AND Y

Originally released on April 20, 1979, Y represents a stunning culmination of The Pop Group’s crucial nonconformity. Preceded by a meteoric rise in recognition, Y firmly realized 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 Y, they 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 characterizes 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 molded 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 Y 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 Y 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 Y before everything was finalized, 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 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, Y 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.

Y Tracklisting
1. Thief of Fire (Remastered)
2. Snowgirl (Remastered)
3. Blood Money (Remastered)
4. Savage Sea (Remastered)
5. We Are Time (Remastered)
6. Words Disobey Me (Remastered)
7. Don’t Call Me Pain (Remastered)
8. Boys From Brazil (Remastered)
9. Don’t Sell Your Dreams (Remastered)

Alien Blood Tracklisting
1. Kiss The Book
2. Blood Money (Slow Thief)
3. Don’t Call Me Pain (First Mix)
4. Words Disobey Me (Dennis the Menace Mix)
5. We Are Time (Ricochet)
6. Thief Of Fire (Bass Addict)
7. Savage Sea (Sparse)
8. Boys From Brazil (Ridge Reels)
9. Snowgirl (Take 3)
10. Don’t Sell Your Dreams (“A” Mix)

Y Live Tracklisting
1. Thief of Fire (Live)
2. Snowgirl (Live)
3. Blood Money (Live)
4. Savage Sea (Live)
5. We Are Time (Live)
6. Words Disobey Me (Live)
7. Don’t Call Me Pain (Live)
8. Boys From Brazil (Live)
9. Don’t Sell Your Dreams (Live)

“She Is Beyond Good & Evil” 12” Tracklisting
1. She Is Beyond Good & Evil
2. 3.38

Pre-order the Y definitive edition here.