Uncut magazine's February issue listed "100 singles that changed your life." They missed one. Here, in a shameless piece of pop revisionism, is why. (20th January 2001)
Will Eat Itself, There Is No Love Between Us Anymore (Chapter 22)
Although the band were generally treated like a week-old dog turd by the music press, Pop Will Eat Itself's legacy is one of a musical and cultural cross-fertilisation that lead directly to the indie-dance revolution of the early 90s and the current vast popularity of dance music. Without Pop Will Eat Itself the Chemical Brothers would still be scratting around in the Dust.
No Love was the first Pop Will Eat Itself single that successfully realised their aim to "take a beatbox and add a garage racket." It followed early attempts to graft electronics and hip hop onto what was essentially pissed Buzzcocks copyism that put them in the same frame as contemporaries Age of Chance, Big Audio Dynamite, the Beastie Boys and the JAMMs.
The single charted a couple of weeks before Bomb The Bass' Beat Dis and showed kinship by sticking a huge chunk of When I Fall in Love at the beginning and another of You've Lost That Loving Feeling at the end. In between, programmed beats and fractious flamenco guitar battled with the title sung repeatedly. On the B-side, Razor's Edge, remixed an album track in a blast of prescient instrumental hip hop.
Around the same time, the band played a few dates with Run DMC and Public Enemy. After being repeatedly coined off-stage, they dropped out of the tour. If the hip hop crowd was insular (as it still is), the scruffy grebos in parka jackets were not, easily embracing this new beast, indie-dance. Bobby Gillespie reaped what he had sown by copying the formula and Andy Weatherall shot Primal Scream into the charts with Loaded, setting the controls for Higher Than The Sun. Jesus Jones and EMF prospered with poppier versions of the same and, in the underground, PWEI's crusty following went rave, techno and Megadog. Electronic music, it seemed, was no longer for intellectuals and New Romantics.
The Poppies' second album, This is the Day saw them rapping over James Brown loops in broad Brummie accents, predating pretty much all (white) UK hip hop. Collaborations with the likes of Adrian Sherwood, Trent Reznor and Renegade Soundwave followed as did a long association with the Designer's Republic. DR, now noted for their record sleeves featuring the appropriation and perversion of logos and trademarks, honed their skills on PWEI releases from 1987 onwards. In a continuation of the aims of their genre-straddling tour with Run DMC, a single, Ich Bin Ein Auslander, produced with Fundamental was brutally anti-Nazi.
The band split in 1996 after diminishing commerical and critical returns but they live on in the proliferation of dance remixes of indie bands, Big Beat (Bentley Rhythm Ace are ex-PWEI) and even cinema: Clint Poppie wrote scores for Darren Aronofskys Pi and Requiem For a Dream. Mostly, though, it's in the punkish ideal that any fool with a sampler can make music. As they put it in Fuck This Grebo Shit, Hit the Hi-Tech Groove: "You dont have to have integrity/ You don't have to have ability, yeah/ So listen kiddies, it's true what they say/ You don't need respectability."
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