Gruppo Sportivo

  • Gruppo Sportivo
  • 10 Mistakes (UK Epic) 1978 
  • Back to '78 (UK Epic) 1978 
  • Mistakes (Sire) 1979 
  • Copy Copy (Can. Attic) 1980 
  • Pop! Goes the Brain (Can. Attic) 1981 

Holland’s Gruppo Sportivo specialized in combining familiar rock riffs with outrageous humor, making it a group to be laughed with more than a band to be heard. Mistakes is an American compilation, including a bonus six-song 7-inch, of the band’s first two albums (which were produced by future Nits member R.J. Stips). Cannibalizing the pop music world (in both form and lyric) for laughs, this gruppo romps blissfully across the prostrate forms of Eric Clapton, the Shangri-Las, Beatles and Wings (among others), elevating mere parody to the level of satire. They have the musical ability to pull it off, and wind up sonically somewhere between Abba and early Squeeze.

Copy Copy falters as the lyrics take precedence over the music, despite an emphasis on dance beats and good vocal support from Bette Bright. Fortunately, their satire strikes firmly — at radio, the Westernization of Japan, airport dogs, etc. — and the words’ savage precision somewhat compensates for the meandering, frequently nonexistent tunes.

Pop! Goes the Brain rediscovers melody, and leader Hans Vandenburg drops his Dutch accent for a pseudo-English voice that sounds disturbingly like Nick Lowe. A greater role for synthesizer and its attendant rhythmic noises corresponds to lighter satire, and an incursion of serious numbers.

[Steven Grant]