This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is Pop Will Eat Itself!
May 9, 2020 5:56 PM   Subscribe

About 30 yeas ago, self-identified "grebo" rockers (Guardian; previously) fused ramshackle punk, folk, electronic and hip-hop, plus some rave piano into the unofficial theme for the 1990 FIFA World Cup (Wiki), titled "Touched By the Hand of Cicciolina" (YT). Pop Will Eat Itself, or PWEI, included a card with some singles (Discogs) for folks to petition FIFA that the World Cup should be presented by Cicciolina, the Hungarian-Italian porn star turned politician (Daily Kos). OK, we've touched on some of this previously, so let's (re)visit the rest of the Poppies' videography!

Sweet Sweet Pie (1987) [from the Gimme Shelter compilation (Discogs)]
-- jangly pop-punk with samples, was #100 on the UK Singles charts
Love Missile F1-11 (1987)
-- more jangle pop-punk; #78 on UK Singles charts
Beaver Patrol (1987)
-- fan-made video (recreation?); more early hip-hop influence showing up in the music*; #76 on UK Singles charts
There Is No Love Between Us Anymore (1988)
-- upbeat tone replaced with what sounds more like early industrial-type sounds and samples; #66 on UK Singles chart
Def.Con.One (1989)
-- back to upbeat tunes and quirky samples, with an anti-consumer message; #63 on UK Singles charts, #30 on U.S. Modern Rock charts
Can U Dig It? (1989)
-- shout-outs to their favorite things (; rode up to #38 on UK Singles charts on rock/ sample hybrid
Wise Up! Sucker (1989)
-- another melancholy rocker, full of samples; #41 on the UK Singles charts
Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina (1990)
-- #28 on the UK Singles charts
X Y & Zee (1990)
-- #15 on UK Singles chart, #11 on U.S. Modern Rock charts, and #88 on Australian (singles?)
92°F (1991)
-- #23 on UK Singles chart
Karmadrome (1992)
-- #17 on UK Singles chart
Bulletproof! (1992)
-- #24 on UK Singles chart
Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies! (1993)
-- #9 on UK Singles chart
R.S.V.P. (1993)
-- things get dark; #27 on UK Singles chart
Ich Bin Ein Auslander (1994)
-- things get much darker (Genius), just in time to tour with Nine Inch Nails; #28 on UK Singles chart
Everything's Cool (1994)
-- not as grim as the prior two tracks, but another guitar-heavy, sample-laden track; #23 on UK Singles chart

The band disbanded in 1996. About a decade later, Graham Crabb (lead singer, keyboards, programming) and Adam Mole (guitar, bass, keyboards, programming) tried to get Clint Mansell (lead singer) and Richard March (guitarist) back, but both had gone on with other projects. Most notably, Mansell found fortune and fame making soundtracks (The Guardian).

Crabb and Mole formed Vileevils, and released F**king & Fighting and a remix/ rework of The Zombies The Way I Feel Inside in 2008, with definite PWEI vibes, on the darker end of the band's spectrum.

A new iteration of Pop Will Eat Itself formed in July 2011, with Graham Crabb as the only original member, joined by fellow vocalist Mary Byker (Gaye Bykers on Acid, Apollo 440, Pigface), guitarist Tim Muddiman (Gary Numan), drummer Jason Bowld (Pitchshifter, Killing Joke) and bassist Davey Bennett (This Burning Age). According to Wikipedia, they released 8 additional videos in this period, but I could only find evidence of 5, with 2 still online:

Chaos & Mayhem (2011)
Oldskool Cool (2011)
Watch The Bitch Blow (2014) [live audience video -- the official video has since disappeared]
Reclaim the Game (Funk FIFA) (2014) [live audience recording; formerly online]
-- A new unofficial World Cup song with a full remix EP (YT playlist) featuring Brazilian musician BNegão (Portuguese Wikipedia; Google auto-translation), but now critical of FIFA (Genius)
21st Century English Civil War (2015) [formerly online, but now it's not, and I can't even find an audience recording]
Bonus fan-made video: They Can't Take (2015)

* PWEI toured, very briefly, with Public Enemy (PWEI Nation), likely riding their popularity and use of hip-hop type samples

Pop Will Eat Itself has two official sites: Pop Will Eat Itself (dot net), and PWEI Nation, which was created for the second iteration of the band. links to the official YouTube channel, with links to all the officially hosted videos, plus audio playlists from recent material. PWEI Nation has more linked "teevee" videos.
posted by filthy light thief (35 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
A band I always liked the idea of rather than the actuality. The Cicciolina song is good though.
posted by awfurby at 6:43 PM on May 9

I have seen the future, and this is how it will end.

PWEI was amazing. I heard that they couldn't play the old stuff again even if they all agreed because the synth patches are lost. But maybe that's just a rumor? Or maybe that's EMF.

If you've never heard it, PWEI also does a great cover of Peter Gabriel's Games Without Frontiers. Youtube link
posted by 1adam12 at 7:14 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]

Aw, this takes me back. Great post, filthy!

The student entertainment committee at my uni, of which I was a member, booked PWEI to play at our student union in, I want to say, spring 1990? Might have been 1991. Anyway, I have no idea how many other students had heard of them before we asked them to play. But within 10 minutes of them starting, the place was packed to the rafters and everyone was dancing up a storm. Such a great show. The songs that I recall going over best with the kids were "Can U Dig It?" and "Not Now, James, We're Busy".
posted by droplet at 7:24 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

This is a great post! I certainly intend to check out the PWEI catalogue, but I'm most familiar with Clint Mansell's dozens of movie scores, especially the soundtrack to the 2009 movie Moon.
posted by JDC8 at 8:29 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

The new version toured here a couple of years ago, and a mate happily grabbed a tickets for a wee bit of pre-rave sample-tastic nostalgia. Which was precisely what it was. They could definitely play most of the big choons from the This is This and Dos Dedos era. The crowd of old goths and grebos were loving it. They encored with a version of 'Their Law', which was the unhingedly massive party annihilator it always was.

Good fun. Totally forgettable.
posted by prismatic7 at 8:30 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Also, the much harder, more political, thoroughly feral live version of Ich Bin Ein Ausländer with Fun-Da-Mental on the decks and mics (apologies for poor video quality)
posted by prismatic7 at 8:35 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]

Can U Dig It? yt (1989)
-- shout-outs to their favorite things

Alan Moore knows the score
posted by philip-random at 8:56 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]

I was all over their stuff for a while, but eventually went off on other tracks. Oddly, I find what sounds best to me now is that Love Missile F-1-11 EP, which also includes Shriekback, Hawkwind and Mighty Lemon Drops covers -- everything garaged up and gunning for glory.

Everything That Rises still sounds like last week, or maybe next.
posted by philip-random at 9:03 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]

I had no idea they released a cover of Love Missle F1-11. I love me some PWEI but it's got nothing, NOTHING on the original.
posted by Catblack at 9:04 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]

> Can You Dig It?

I first heard that PWEI song and saw The Warriors about a week apart. I learned a lot that week. There was a lot of fun stuff packed into that one goofy little song.
posted by not_on_display at 9:35 PM on May 9

My favorite song off the album is "Not Now James, We're Busy".
A song about James Brown's multiple state chase from the police.
posted by Chocomog at 9:46 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]

ah, when things got dark, that was the best. Dos Dedos Mis Amigos is an absolutely fantastic album.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:52 PM on May 9

Honestly I sort of love how every album has its own distinctive sound. Even the middle bits (TITD...TITH...TIT and Cure for Sanity) went from sampleriffic to _really well done_ samplerifficness. The only thing that screws me up is the number of best of and singles collections I've subsequently accumulated.
posted by Kyol at 9:56 PM on May 9

For extended play (or future listening), their studio discography, in YouTube playlists, except for the first link:

Now for a Feast! (Wikipedia; compilation of older tracks, first released in 1988)
- singles: "Sweet Sweet Pie" and "Love Missile F1-11"

Box Frenzy (1987; expanded album reissue with no track links, but it may be this version)
- singles: "Beaver Patrol" and "There Is No Love Between Us Anymore"
- snippet of Kenyon Hopkin's AllMusic review (3/5 stars)
A hint (some might say warning) of what was to come on its follow-up record, the sample-heavy Box Frenzy is a fury of hip-hop, rock, and dance. Pop Will Eat Itself had yet to fully develop their wildy eclectic sound and satirization of politics, so there's a few odd numbers here.
This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This! (1988)
- singles: "Def. Con. One," "Can U Dig It?" and "Wise Up! Sucker"
- snippet of Ned Raggett's AllMusic review (4.5/5 stars)
After the band's enthusiastic if somewhat stumbling transformation into a sort-of English Beastie Boys on Box Frenzy, Pop Will Eat Itself transformed itself into a much superior beast on the brilliant, underrated This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This! The secret ingredient was Flood, who brought his considerable production skills to the fore and helped shape an album that was its own sprawling but self-contained universe.
Cure for Sanity (1990)
- singles: "Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina," "Dance of the Mad Bastards," "X Y & Zee," "92 Degrees" and "Another Man’s Rhubarb"
- snippet of Ned Raggett's AllMusic Review (4/5 stars)
If This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This! was Pop Will Eat Itself's crowning moment -- an exciting, energetic, and very modern English response to the Beastie Boys' own culture-gobbling antics -- Cure for Sanity wasn't all that far off, mixing a couple of more serious efforts with a new slew of catchy, immediate singles and not-bad album cuts.
The Looks or the Lifestyle? (1992)
- singles: "Karmadrome" / "Eat Me Drink Me Love Me," "Bulletproof!" and "Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies!"
- snippet of Josh Landau's AllMusic review (2/5 stars)
Certainly not their best effort, The Looks or the Lifestyle saw RCA pressuring the band to move in a more commercial direction. The Poppies ignored the pressure and moved in a less commercial direction. Displaying an interest in a dancier style that had started to become evident on the previous album, elements of the harsher attack that would characterize Dos Dedos Mis Amigos were apparent in such songs as "Urban Futuristic" and "Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me, Kill Me." Samples come from diverse influences, including Akira, INXS, and Perry Farrell; this album represents a sort of midway point between PWEI's two landmark albums.
Dos Dedos Mis Amigos (1994)
- singles: "R.S.V.P. / Familius Horribilus," "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" and "Everything's Cool"
- snippet of Ned Raggett's AllMusic review (3/5 stars)
The final Pop Will Eat Itself album as such, not counting the remix version of this release that followed some months later, Dos Dedos Mis Amigos is the most serious album the band ever attempted, both lyrically and, given the heavier music, sonically. The giddy rush of albums like This Is the Day and Cure for Sanity had always been punctuated by darker, often surprisingly accomplished songs, but on Dos Dedos the ratio was reversed and the stridency pumped up to even louder levels.
--- hiatus ---

+ non-album single: PWEI - "Axe of Men 2010" (radio edit | 3:39) || Vile Evils - "Axe of Men 2010" (3kStatic In Extended Range Mix | 9:07) (Discogs: PWEI | Vile Evils)

New Noise Designed by a Sadist (2011)
- singles: "Chaos & Mayhem" and "Disguise"
- snippet of Jon O'Brien's AllMusic review (3/5 stars)
With Carter USM and Ned's Atomic Dustbin continuing to draw crowds with their recent reunion tours, the short-lived Grebo scene is witnessing something of an unexpected if low-key revival of late. Six years after briefly re-forming for a series of live shows, one of its biggest exponents, Pop Will Eat Itself, attempts to further its resurgence with their first studio album since 1994's Dos Dedos Mis Amigos. New Noise Designed by a Sadist may only feature one original member (frontman Graham Crabb), but its 11 tracks bear all the hallmarks of their heyday, particularly "Equal Zero," whose buzzing guitar hooks, swirling techno bleeps, and clattering beats could have sat alongside their collaboration with the Prodigy on Music for the Jilted Generation, and "Wasted (Pt. 1)," (one of three tracks fronted by Gaye Bykers on Acid's Mary Byker), whose snarling vocals, industrial riffs, and scuzzy guitars echo John Lydon's forays into electronica.
A Lick Of The Old Cassette Box (2013; "The Unreleased 1996 Album")
- snippet of Phil Newall's Louder Than War review
[The album/compilation is] a mix of finished articles, demos, others early ideas all totally unreleased tunes; Opener ‘No Contest’ through to ‘Dehydration’ sound more like ‘lost’ NIN tracks, ‘Out Of Darkness…Cometh Light’ full of mechanised noise, it broods, but clearly needs finishing to reveal its full potential, ‘The Demon’ is a personal favourite and had me thinking I was listening to a Revolting Cocks bootleg, real power house built around a looping bass and minor keys with a skip full of sequenced noise piled on top, a version of this was subsequently released as a digital single on February 2, 2010 credited to Vileevils, a 3pc version of PWEI in disguise.
More tracks uploaded by fans: 1-800-Outsider, I am the One, Talent Plus Attitude Equals Dollars

Anti-Nasty League (2015)
- single: "Digital Meltdown" (5th Dream Today Simple Mix, fan-made remix) + video for Angry Man's Deathbed
- snippet of Tim Peacock's Record Colletor Magazine review
... the band’s seventh album, Anti Nasty League, is a far more consistent outing. Tracks such as Watch The Bitch Blow and the furious, music biz-dissing Digital Meltdown rock relentlessly hard. Director’s Cut ingeniously melds spacy dub with Prodigy-esque overload, and both Middle East Street Party and the impassioned 21st Century English Civil War credibly hark back to the Poppies at their hard-hitting, Dos Dedos-era best.
Kyol, you're right on about their changing sound. And because of that, the reviews can vary greatly, from those who see This is the Day as their peak, to those who like their more industrial sound and count Dos Dedos as their best work.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:03 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]

If Adam Mole renamed himself Adrian Mole, everything would still be ok. Bad, but ok.
posted by aramaic at 10:05 PM on May 9

Everything That Rises still sounds like last week, or maybe next.
posted by philip-random

Ok now wait I'm a big PWEI fan but Everything that Rises is a Shriekback song from 1985. PWEI covered it in '88.
posted by workerant at 10:17 PM on May 9

I had their Dos Dedos album and listened to it a hell of a lot as an impressionable high school student, but hadn't really thought of them in a long damn time. Nice little trip down memory land with Ich Bin Ein Auslander.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:22 PM on May 9

What I remember most is the great iconography the Poppies had, lot of anime and manga style.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:44 AM on May 10

For people who watch the TV show The Expanse: Clint Mansell does the soundrack. So if the music in the Belter bars on Ceres brought you back to your '90s industrial club experiences, well, now you know why.
posted by rednikki at 2:23 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]

Love Missile F1-11 was a cover of Sigue Sigue Sputnik
posted by awfurby at 2:32 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]

Clint Mansell did a Tim's Twitter Listening Party for Moon last week.
posted by jontyjago at 3:35 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]

I mentally overlay Ich Bin Ein Auslander whenever I see snippets of.a Trump rally.
posted by benzenedream at 4:26 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]

What I remember most is the great iconography the Poppies had, lot of anime and manga style.

Designers Republic
posted by GeorgeBickham at 6:05 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]

I'm filing a restraining order against filthy light thief for stealing my music posting thunder.

A+, awesome post.
posted by hippybear at 7:52 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]

Ok now wait I'm a big PWEI fan but Everything that Rises is a Shriekback song from 1985. PWEI covered it in '88.

as I mentioned in the same comment
posted by philip-random at 7:57 AM on May 10

And honestly, any band doing a cover of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, that's truly ballsy. SSS was such an... odd project.
posted by hippybear at 7:59 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]

what I love about that covers EP is how it shows a young, completely unknown band, kerranging around in their garage, cranking out versions of the stuff they love, which goes something like this, all descriptors copy/pasted from wikipedia:

Sigue Sigue Sputnik ( New waveHi-NRGpost-punkglam punkelectronic)
Hawkwind (Space rock[1] hard rock[1] progressive rock[2] psychedelic rock[3] acid rock[4] proto-punk[5])
Might Lemon Drops (Alternative rock, college rock, post-punk,[1] indie rock, new wave[1][2])
Shriekback (Post-punk, new wave)

Which says it better than I ever could. The young Poppies were into EVERYTHING. And what's more, they got it into their sound, and their name.
posted by philip-random at 8:48 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]

Can U Dig It arrived at a very formative time for the young me.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:25 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]

Surprised by the absence of references to their awesome visual identity in later years. Shout out to Sheffield based Designers Republic. I loved the Poppies but I’ll happily confess I bought more of their t-shirts than their records.
posted by dmt at 1:10 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]

PWEI is awesome. Though I would contend that "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" is the least romantic song in the history of recorded music.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 3:20 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]

what about This Is Not A Love Song?
posted by philip-random at 3:44 PM on May 10

I always took SSS to be a post-modern ironic expression. I'm interested to see anyone took took them to be actual music artists.
posted by hippybear at 3:56 PM on May 10

least romantic song in the history of recorded music.

That would be Van Morrison's Ring Worm.
posted by benzenedream at 11:07 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]

what about This Is Not A Love Song?

Different band? (Public Image Ltd)

PWEI were semilocal-ish (well from 30 miles away in another county, but when you live in Shropshire and the only famous band to come from there is T'Pau you claim whatever bands you can as vaguely local) when I was in my late teens, and along with other bands from the same area such as Ned's Atomic Dustbin and the Wonderstuff were played in heavy rotation at the local indie club night. Good memories.
Fuzz Townshend lives locally and used to sometimes turn up at an open mic night a friend and I used to go to, which was pretty cool.

I was surprised a few years ago to come across the original of Beaver Patrol as I had no idea it was a cover.
posted by kumonoi at 11:43 PM on May 10

what about This Is Not A Love Song?

Different band? (Public Image Ltd)

I was responding to

"... I would contend that "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" is the least romantic song in the history of recorded music."
posted by philip-random at 11:52 PM on May 10

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