The Pop Group ranks up there with the Ten Thousand Maniacs as one of the most ironic band names in the history of rock music. This gang of left-wing political radicals from Bristol, England sound more like the antithesis of pop music. "Y" was released on the Radar label in 1979 to little fanfare, but Rough Trade liked the record enough to sign them.
"Y" is a cathartic and uncompromising avant garde record that mixed free jazz, art rock, funk, reggae and industrial music. There are very few hooks or decipherable vocals, but the impassioned delivery of lead singer Mark Stewart is undeniable. Highlights include the wildly eclectic "Snow Girl" where agit-funk shares sonic space with stinging guitars and intense piano hammering, "Savage Sea" with distorted vocals layered on top of a propulsive rhythm section with reverb and echo that sounds like lost sessions of Lee Scratch Perry and the caterwauling, free jazz funk of "Don't Call Me Pain" that is reminiscent of an unholy alliance between James Chance and the Birthday Party.
Give this out-of-print rarity a spin and let me know what you think!