Some of you lovers of the more obscure bands of the early years of rock and roll will easily identify with the anxieties that surround the descent of a favored band into the shadows. It didn't matter if that band enjoyed a level of popularity sufficient for them to chart. What did matter was the buzz. And buzz was widespread in the late '70s and early '80s, as bands with a unique style began to merge into the zeitgeist of the time.
The Pop Group was one of those bands. Formed in 1977 with five musicians, they crafted an avant-garde style of rock that incorporated elements of free-style jazz, the punk style of the time, and mixed in a healthy dose of funk. What resulted was a fascinating blend of music so different that it captured the critics' eyes and minds. It didn't hurt that they mixed politics into their lyrics much like Gang of Four and The Clash.
If you were familiar with Urban Verbs and The Feelies then you have a small idea of the experimentation that was going on. This kind of experimentation was not lost on The Pop Group. But, as longevity will demand, you either have the attention of the mass public, or you don't. And while The Pop Group gained a fair amount of attention, they finally decided that their efforts might be better spent elsewhere. And so, after two studio albums, the Radar Records release Y, with the incredible "Thief of Fire," and their Rough Trade release, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder (1980), the band closed the book in 1981.
In explaining the band's musical intentions, guitarist Gareth Sager said that they were “...trying in an inexplicably naive manner to combine Patti Smith’s Rimbaud ramblings, James Brown, the Stooges, Roxy Music, T. Rex and classical aleatoric music. You can hear the results of this on tracks ‘Genius or Lunatic’, ‘Colour Blind’, ‘Trap’, ‘Sense of Purpose’, ‘Kiss the Book’ and ‘We Are Time'.” He goes on to say, “Soon after this the band were bringing in other influences, Ornette Coleman, King Tubby, Funkadelic, Debussy, Jacques Brel, Fela Kuti, Steve Reich and then you get ‘Thief of Fire’.”
In 1980, Rough Trade issued a set of collected tracks from both their Radar and Rough Trade affiliations, with live performance tracks and demos called We Are Time.
On October 21, the band will revisit the past with a newly remastered reissue of We Are Time. But, in addition to that set's welcome resurrection, there will also be a new collection, Cabinet of Curiosities which will feature unearthed rarities. In time, the band hopes to reissue their two classic studio sets with new remastering. In 2010, the band had reformed and are currently on tour. They hope to release a new album in the near future.
We Are Time will be reissued on CD, DD, LP, and a Limited Edition Box. The box (which incorporates Cabinet of Curiosities) will feature an extensive 36-page booklet with memorabilia, photos, liner notes, a badge, and a bookmark. The LPs will be issued on 180g-weight vinyl, and will be released in two colors that include a red/white coloring, and a monochrome grey and will be issued exclusively to pledge participants, but are likely sold out at this point. Both LPs will be finished with a psychedelic gloss unique to each disc. The LP release of Cabinet of Curiosities will issue in black vinyl.
We Are Time:Trap (demo)
Thief of Fire (live)
Genius or Lunatic (live)
Colour Blind (demo)
Spanish Inquisition (live)
Kiss the Book (John Peel Session)
Amnesty Report II
Sense of Purpose (demo)
We Are Time (live)
Cabinet of Curiosities:
Where There’s a Will
She Is Beyond Good and Evil (a previously unheard Andy Mackay-produced version)
Words Disobey Me
Don’t Sell Your Dreams
We Are Time
Abstract Heart (previously unreleased)
Amnesty Report III
Karen’s Car (previously unreleased)