LP / CD / DL
19 February 2016
9 / 10
English post-punk band re-release their second album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
Whether you are aware of The Pop Group or not, it cannot be denied the influence that they undoubtedly had on British punk and street culture. Mark Stewart and his band of not-so merry men have seen fit to crowdfund the re-release of their pivotal album For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? on cd for the first time. We salute you.
The album is a classic make no mistake. Call it avant garde, call it post-punk, thirty-five years after its original release it is still as relevant and angry as it was then. Often put into the bracket of punk it really isn’t, being more akin to the sound of Ian Dury and his jazz induced punk-pop – The Pop Group present their version in an anti-pop fashion.
Built on screeching saxophones, frenetic bass lines and Stewarts irreverent screaming, the overall sound is often off-key. Indeed, the lack of uniformity and conformity adds to the charm of the songs and the manic nature is a humbling refreshment.
Album opener, Forces Of Oppression is near anthemic as it announces the arrival of the nine tracks with gusto and the now trademark shout of Stewart is given a severe airing. Feed The Hungry is near hypnotic and Blind Faith cascades with noise and near hostility.
One Out Of Many featuring The Last Poets is replaced by the bands second single We Are All Prostitutes for the first time, a song as famous for its political commentary as it is for its imagery of Maggie Thatcher waving a two-fingered salute. Nick Cave stated that “It had everything that I thought rock and roll should have. It was violent, paranoid music for a violent, paranoid time”, and a young punk in the BBC series Ashes To Ashes was seen sporting a t-shirt with the song title emblazoned over his chest.
Even reggae gets a tickle with the brilliant There Are No Spectators as it fades away into a glorious reverb towards the end before Communicate provides what can only be described as improvised jazz-punk.
Closing with the dark humour of Rob A Bank as it parodies the original theme from Robin Hood you can’t help but feel that you have just invested thirty-seven minutes of your life into something completely marvellous.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.