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Guest Column – The Pop Group: Heavyweight champions of the (pop) world again?

Guest Column – The Pop Group: Heavyweight champions of the (pop) world again?
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With their Paul Epworth-produced album Citizen Zombie out next week (23 February), The Pop Group are releasing their first long player in 35 years. Don’t call it a come back… or maybe do as the band’s Gareth Sager argues in this guest column.

There are times when music and movement flow together, when you realize you’re not a lump of concrete, when you get out of your mind and into your body… when you discover what can only be called the magic of the moment. These moments may be improvised for the moment but are the product of long and grueling hours of practice. And they are never more inspiring when they happen in music or sport.

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The two great popular spectacles of the post-war era are not often looked at in the same light, but the resemblances are more than coincidental. Both are intimately connected with the spectacle and immersed in the moment.

Think of Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar behind his back. A common enough gimmick on the chitlin circuit, it needed to hit the revolution-courting British youth of mid sixties Britain to have its magic moment. In the same way, Johan Cruyff’s drag-back and turn was known to his team mates but only wowed the world and changed the beautiful game forever in 1974 when seen on the biggest stage of all: the World Cup.

In 23 February, 1972 Top Of The Pops we see David Bowie limply draping his wrist on Mick Ronson’s shoulder and staring into the camera, suggesting they are more than bandmates. Now fast forward to April 1975 Match Of The Day. Tony Currie and Alan Birchenall collide, end up on the ground… and make-up with a kiss… The BBCs first televised football kiss!

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Taking things further, Eric Cantona’s flying Kung Fu kick into the insulting crowd is just the football version of Iggy Pop flinging himself into the crowd combined with the Sex Pistols fighting with the crowd. The New Zealand rugby team’s Haka isn’t light years away from Sun Ra hitting the stage with 15 fellow Arkestra musicians and challenging the audience the travel the spaceways with them.

Now take Mohammed Ali, back from his boxing ban and finally conquering George Foreman to become heavyweight champion of the world… again!

It may be pushing things too far to compare it to The Pop Group’s return after 35 years with all-conquering gigs and new LP produced by the hottest producer in the world. But like Ali, we hope to put a few noses out of joint.

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Ladeeze and Gentlemen, out of the red corner I give you the Pop Group on their bicycle, bopping and weaving…heavyweight champions of the world: The Pop Group…

Gareth Sager@ThePopGroup

For more head to Thepopgroup.net/.


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