Bristol Archive Records Blog

Archive for May, 2010

The Pop Group Reform

Friday, May 28th, 2010

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

Bristol The Punk Explosion – Album Review

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Various Artists: Bristol – The Punk Explosion (Bristol Archives)

Bristol Archive Records is my new favourite record label. Their sole reason for existence is to preserve the punk/post-punk musical history of Bristol. This compilation is almost perfect. For a start, this was the first time I’d listened to a punk compilation where I didn’t already know every song.

I grew up listening to punk compilations and samplers and mix tapes, and this is the first one that I’ve heard where the actual sequencing of the tracks made any sense. On The Punk Explosion, the tracks are ordered chronologically, starting in 1977 (naturally) and ending in ’83, this makes sense because it shows the development of the punk sound. We start off with some Buzzcockian poppy love songs (“she’s my choc ice”?!) and finishes with the birth of hardcore and thrash (Chaos UK and Onslaught, respectively).

What this album does best is present the Bristol scene as a microcosm of the punk scene in general. On an ordinary compilation, The Clash or Stiff Little Fingers would represent political punk, Dead Kennedys would be your dose of hardcore and X-Ray Spex would be the only female-fronted band. On this record those bands are replaced with 48 Hours, The Undead and Vice Squad.

By limiting the record’s scope to a very specific geographic location, Bristol Archive Records have avoided rehashing the same old bands and I’ve had a chance to listen to music by bands I’d only heard of from staring at the patches on other people’s clothes at gigs. Before Bristol Archive Records, the punk compilation wasn’t dead, but it was stagnant. Check this out if you like your music short, fast and loud. 9/10

Daniel Shields

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