Mark Stewart's band, The Pop Group, were a grenade being lobbed against the walls of the Establishment. Bracing like a slap in the face, the band's music still has the power to shock and thrill, more so than any so-called "rule-breakng" Class of '77 Brit punk act. With the possible exception of The Slits, this music sounds more revolutionary than almost any other music released in that era. Now, the band's second proper album, 1980's For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder is being reissued and I'm happy to report that the tunes here still seem transgressive and explosive.
From the legendary "We Are All Prostitutes" on to the nearly-deranged sounding "Blind Faith" this is tune-age beyond punk. Prefiguring the clipped beats of Gang of Four, Mark Stewart and his crew here managed to hit on something timeless that transcended the genre conventions of the era. "Justice" finds Stewart wailing like Nick Cave would do in The Birthday Party even as the music unravels in a sort of sinister funk around him. "Communicate" rivals contemporaries P.i.L. in skirting the edges of listen-ability, while "Rob a Bank" throbs and boils like the sound of a riot about to kick off.
Essential and incendiary, the music of The Pop Group is oddly timeless and altogether still exciting. Vital and hypnotic, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder may be the peak of The Pop Group's recording career. Grab this new re-issue now and revisit a music that seeks to inform, enrage, and excite. Rarely has a band seemed this genuinely dangerous.
More details on The Pop Group via the band's official website. For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder will be re-issued later this week.