The Pop Group: For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?

Mark Stewarts’s ever-relevant agitp(r)op noiseniks.

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Ending their implausible tenure with new-wave label Radar, Bristol’s radical funk-jazz-noise band the Pop Group found a safe haven with indie pioneers Rough Trade and recorded For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, a record which took punk’s polemic a step further on.

Tracks like Feed The Hungry, How Much Longer? and the single We Are All Prostitutes (added here to replace Last Poets remix One Out Of Many) echoed the real anarchy of bands such as Crass, but with a musical diversity rooted in free jazz and freer funk.

The politics muted the lyrical imagination that had produced She Is Beyond Good And Evil and Thief Of Fire, but there was tightly wound anger in both the playing and Mark Stewart’s look-back-in-anguish vocals. For How Much Longer accidentally presaged the less political funk-’n’-fun explosion that would sweep both indie and pop music a year later, and arguably left the Pop Group nowhere to go but away. Stewart went off to work with Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound, the rest of the band split into the cheerier Pigbag and the jazzier Rip Rip And Panic, both acts very much of their time.

It’s a record that has aged well, its targets still relevant in an age of Occupy and jihad, and the music still sounds like nothing you’d want to be friends with.

David Quantick

David Quantick is an English novelist, comedy writer and critic, who has worked as a journalist and screenwriter. A former staff writer for the music magazine NME, his writing credits have included On the HourBlue JamTV Burp and Veep; for the latter of these he won an Emmy in 2015.