Bristol Archive Records Blog

The Pop Group Reform

I must admit to being a little over-excited by the prospect of a Pop Group reunification. Yes, it’s happening, and there will be gigs, a couple at The Garage in September just to kick things off. But where do The Pop Group sit in the pantheon of artrock? Well, pretty high I reckon. They were a funny bunch though weren’t they?
When I think back there were, it seemed to me, three main protagonists; Mark Stewart (vocals), Gareth Sager (guitar) and drummer Bruce Smith. Mark Stewart seemed to me to be the ‘political’ one, I remember stories of him bursting into tears whenever he thought of the woeful state of the world, carrying the cares of the globe on his back. He was never a singer of course, more of a ranter, and he was even more of a ranter than Mark E Smith. So Mark was the ‘serious’ one. Gareth was the performer. Seemingly oblivious to the ‘heavy’ subject matter, Gareth put on a show, fully realising his frontman potential when he swapped bass for sax with Rip Rig and Panic. And then there was drummer Bruce. What a drummer! Every so often a tub-thumper comes along and blows your mind. That’s exactly what Bruce did to me. One of my fondest memories is of Bruce playing stand-in drummer for The Slits at The Communist Party festie at the Ally Pally… 1980? He was incredible!
Do you have Pop Group memories? If so, please send them to me.
Having said all that I have to admit that The Pop Group only made an ‘honourable mention’ in our 100 Greatest Ever Artrock Tracks with ‘She’s Beyond Good and Evil’. I can only apologise, but at the same time, in our defence, at least we remembered them. Go look The Pop Group up on Google, there’s hardly anything there – even the Wiki entry is poor. However, The Pop Group do pop-up on our Spotify 100 playlist, it’s still one hell of a listen, blending the new with the classic – and it’s the number 1 playlist on
ListenSpotify, which is nice. So have a listen, have a look at the list on and, at the very least, settle your mind as to what actually constitutes Artrock..

Tom Artrocker


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