The next two weeks in this series will feature bands who reinvented themselves during their career and in doing so caught a lot of people, fans and critics alike, by surprise.

Pop Will Eat Itself had been kicking around for some five years prior to the release of their first material in 1986. They had, like many other new and emerging combos, gone through various line-ups in an effort to find the right formula, eventually settling on Clint Mansell (vocals/guitar), Adam Mole (keyboards), Graham Crabb (drums) and Richard Marsh (bass). Their first release was a self-produced EP called The Poppies Say Grrr…. which would be the one and only release on the magnificently named Desperate Records.

They then signed to Chapter 22 Records and went into the studio to record a second EP, Poppiecock, which was released in October 1986. The lead track was the song chosen for inclusion on the CD86 compilation which has formed the basis for this particular series:-

mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – The Black Country Chainsaw Massacreee

The Black Country incidentally, for those who might not be aware, is the name given to the part of England the band came from….just in case anyone thought the band were being racist.

Oh and the above is the correct title of the song.  It is incorrectly listed on CD86 as The Black Country Chainsaw Massacre.  Those two extra ‘e’s at the end are important!!

All five tracks were short and sharp – none of them reached the two-minute mark – and were derivative of an indie-guitar post-punk pop sound. They were OK at what they did but they didn’t really stand out from the crowd. Their next release was a covers EP after which, in early 1987 there began a revolutionary evolution in their sound which coincided with Graham Crabb ditching the drums to become a co-vocalist and being replaced by a machine with an increasing reliance on sampling and the incorporation of hip-hop which was just beginning to increase in popularity here in the UK.

By 1988, the band’s sound had changed completely as evidenced by their first single of that year, Def Con One, which fused a range of genres while sampling a range of tunes by acts as diverse as 70s teenyboppers The Osmonds, punk gods The Stooges, novelty disco act Lipps Inc and not forgetting the theme tune from cult TV show The Twilight Zone. Follow up single Can U Dig It? followed a similar groove and took the band into the charts for the first time, beginning a run of twelve Top 40 hits over the next five years and a move to major label in the shape of RCA in 1989.

Their departure from RCA in 1993 was a strange affair in that singles lifted from their final album for that label went on to be hits which enabled the band to sign with Infectious Records (set up by a former RCA executive) for their final hurrah in 1994/5.

Their initial ten years in the music business had yielded a fair bit of success and they were always a crackingly energetic live act, hugely popular on the festival circuit thanks to their no-nonsense, high-octane and fast-paced performances. But based on the early material,including the track used on CD86, nobody could ever have imagine that’s how it would turn out. Here’s the other tracks from Poppiecock:-

mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Monogamy
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Oh Grebo, I Think I Love You
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Titanic Clown
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – B-B-B-Breakdown

Incidentally, every PWEI song was credited to Vestan Pance which was a pseudonym for the band as a whole although most of the tracks were written by either Graham Crabb or Clint Mansell.

The band reformed in 2005 and have continued to perform and record on an on-and-off basis ever since, albeit only Graham Crabb from the orignal line-up is part of the current set-up.


10 thoughts on “NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 44 of 48)

  1. Isn’t Clint Mansell now a massively successful Hollywood person. Lets think about that for a second….Clint Poppie….
    oh and Pwei should have had 40 top 40 hits. Brilliant band.

  2. Massively under-rated and ground-breaking. There’s a thanks to them on the Prodigy’s “Fat of the Land” sleeve notes, if memory serves. Anyway, as we’re into C86 bands who reinvented themselves, I hope Primal Scream’s “Velocity Girl” is pending…?

  3. Hi Jezbionic.

    That was the song that kicked the whole series off the best part of a year ago. There’s a search facility on the right hand side that should help you track it down


  4. Saw the current line up in London a month or so ago with the Wonder Stuff. they have Gaye Bykers frontman Mary Mary on vocals too these days and they were surprisingly excellent!
    I’d certainly go back and see them again anyway.

  5. Any band that can open a track with THAT VOICE from The Warriors…”Ok, let’s get down to it boppers…” was destine for greatness! The Poppies never really left their Grebo roots (yes I brought the word missing from discussion of their early work) and moving to sample happy indie pop made complete sense – neither sound takes itself all that seriously. But they kept the fun coming for a good long time.

  6. One of the nicest things I’ve done for anybody was to give a friend “This Is The Day… This Is The Hour… This Is This” as well as tickets for the PWEI show in town that night for her birthday. Memo to self: digitize the Chapter 22 “Covers EP!”

  7. Great record indeed, I still have the 12″ in the collection, which is even better! Will give it a spin again on the weekend ….

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