The Pop Group — Idealists in Distress From Bristol (2007, Vinyl Japan)
[out of print and no stream, sorry]
The men behind the misnomer, the Pop Group, are without question one of England’s most challenging rock groups. Of the “post-punk” groups that evolved out of the late 1970s wave of British punk, the Pop Group were among the most abrasive, adventurous, and political, yet they remained situated very much within the rock idiom. Having only released two studio LPs before reforming in 2010, if you’re at all like those of us at Marginal Brevity, this paltry offering does little to satiate one’s cravings for recorded output. Enter Idealists in Distress from Bristol. Compiling live sets from from 1979 and 1980, one has a chance to hear our idealists obliterate most of their studio works, in what is an interesting and quite honest set of recordings. Mistakes aplenty and general lo-fidelity for a number of these sets, but don’t be dissuaded, padawan. The fidelity only adds to the allure and the mystique. The Köln and Helsinki 1980 sets are the best, with the latter possessing the best recording quality on the album, most likely a mix straight from the board. The former features West German hecklers and incendiary renditions of Y and For How Much Longer tunes. The latter has a savory cut of “Liberty City” before front man Mark Stewart would make it his own on Learning to Cope with Cowardice. In all a great release if you’re like the author and love live cuts to pick apart variations and enjoy the nuance. For the casual listener or those put-off by limited production, these may not be the droids you’re looking for.