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The Pop Group announce the reissue of their highly influential and innovative debut album Y through Mute on 1 November 2019 – remastered and cut at half-speed at Abbey Road. The band’s landmark debut single, ‘She Is Beyond Good & Evil’, will be reissued alongside Y as a bonus 12”.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the album, the band are releasing two limited edition box sets that include the original album, ‘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.
Originally released on the 20 April 1979, Y represents a stunning culmination of The Pop Group’s crucial nonconformity. Preceded by a meteoric rise in recognition, Y 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 Y, The 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 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 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, Y soon became a pivotal and epochal classic. In the years sincereleaseits 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 & Evil’, Alien Blood and Y Live affirms The Pop Group’s status as a group thathave 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)