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Music Reviews

Jah Wobble

Jah Wobble

A Very British Coup

Cadiz Music

Even the devil has sold his soul…

In a week that saw the spineless, corrupt US Senate conclude their sham “trial” of impeached President Trump and the UK tossing aside their neighbors with Brexit, it’s fitting that this rousing protest anthem gets released in America. A Very British Coup finds Jah Wobble with his former PiL bandmates – drummer Richard Dudanski and guitarist Keith Levene along with vocals from The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart with their take on Brexit (although it’s never actually mentioned in the song).

Produced by Youth (Martin Glover), the track reminds you of the glory days – early Clash and PiL’s Second Edition era, with Wobble’s elastic bass percolating in and out of the mix, playing off Levene’s spiky stabs of guitar. This American release features four versions of the song – including “Dogma”, a radio edit, and “Youth Dub”, found only on this CD.

Brexit and the impeachment of Trump share a common theme, namely, that the “powers that be” rule by lies – or as Stewart yelps, What they didn’t want us to know/Down in the sewers, and they go to great lengths to avoid speaking about it. In the US the Senators rejected evidence and witnesses to rush to a forgone conclusion, smirking all the while. In Britain the underlying push to exit the EU was vile nativism and xenophobia, dressed up in purely economic terms, with buses painted with cheery exclamations of all the money that Brexit would return to Britain. It was, of course, like Trump’s defense, a complete and utter lie, mouthed by timid, fearful demagogues.

Perhaps this call to arms will help to stiffen the spines of American voters, who, in November, will vote on the future of our great American experiment. Do we confirm the virtues of what makes America singular and exceptional, or do we give up and let the bastards in expensive suits sell our dreams for their year-end bonuses. Hyperbole? Maybe. Think back three years and tell me I’m exaggerating.

Even the devil has sold his soul…

www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWebH2xEli0

Categories
Music Reviews

The Pop Group

The Pop Group

Honeymoon on Mars

Freaks R Us

The world’s a mess. You know it and the Pop Group are here to provide the soundtrack to your dystopian nightmares. Mark Stewart’s tortured vocals lay out a world run by psychopaths and a parasitic capitalism infects everyone. The soundscapes these nightmares inhabit grind out fractured rhythms curated by dub master Dennis Bovell (the Slits, New Age Steppers) and Hank Shocklee (Public Enemy).

Occasionally, the Pop Group breaks through the anomie to dance to the apocalypse, as on “Zipperface”. It’s a futile effort to buy some time, to gain a little breathing room. On “Days Like These”, however, the agony metastasizes and Stewart scream while the rhythms slowly grind like worn out breaks tearing up the rotors. Freedom is an elusive thing. “Heaven?” is just another Ponzi scheme. Yes, the world is a mess and it’s a one-way trip to Mars.

Categories
Music Reviews

The Pop Group

The Pop Group

For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder

Freaks R Us

My first though when I heard this reissue of For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder was, good god, no wonder I was so depressed in college!

I owned this record when it first came out. It was like a lot of what I was listening to then, loud, angry, political and not very optimistic. The agit-prop posturing of vocalist Mark Stewart bangs away at the ills of the world. Looking back, the Pop Group were screaming, the world is fucked and nobody is doing anything about it. Just the kind of thing an angsty undergrad social science student would eat up.

Playing it loudly also bugged the crap out of the preppy dudes in the dorm.

The Pop Group came out of Bristol in the ferment of the late ’70s post punk movement. Their music raged against injustice in a way that made bands like The Clash and Gang of Four sound like college debate clubs. The musical mash-up brought together funk and dub rhythms, free jazz and squally avant-garde guitar freak-outs and abstract sonic experimentation. It was, and remains, a potent sonic stew.

It’s rather sad that, all these years later, the rants still ring with inconvenient truths. The “hit” single from For How Long Do We Tolerate Mass Murder is a song that echoes my old philosophy professor’s favorite saying; “We Are All Prostitutes.” Both singer Mark Stewart and my old professor assert that we all sell ourselves for whatever we can get. The only difference between a college professor and a call girl is what they’re selling and how much they’re getting paid.

Elsewhere, the names could use updating, but the subjects are sadly the same. You could switch out Nixon and Kissinger for Bush and Cheney and the title track would be pretty up to date. The same could be said about the rant about big banks. The song “Justice”, could apply just as well to Ferguson or Baltimore; who is policing the police? I guess the world is still pretty fucked up.

The Pop Group’s sound was a volatile mix and For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder was their second and last studio album. After the band split in the early 80’s, members moved on to groups like New Age Steppers, Pigbag, Rip, Rig and Panic and Public Image Limited. The Pop Group reformed in 2010 and released their third studio recording Citizen Zombie in 2015.

thepopgroup.com