we are all prostitutes
Mark Stewart has been a progressive mind in music for over two decades. Firstly in Bristol, UK around 1978 at the tender age of 17 with the oft-name-checked but never reissued Pop Group. After a few years, he dissolved the Pop Group and joined forced with Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound crew to bring the New Age Steppers into being. Then came his collaboration with the legendary Sugarhill Records rhythm section (drummer Keith LeBlanc, bassist Doug Wimbish, and guitarist Skip McDonald) as the Maffia. These groundbreaking recordings would influence the sounds of Bristol to come (Tricky, trip-hop, etc). Unparalleled in its time, Stewart combined heavy distorted dub with scratches and rhythms of hip hop and funk alongside bombarding militaristic wailing and pink noise. Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto once stated that their initial aim was to make a record more extreme than this. Have a couple of quotes:
"When I say that dub is an attitude, it's like the old lyric: 'truth is a feeling, but it's not a sound'. I find dub's destruction of a structure a political as well as a musical statement. If you are trying to question things lyrically, you should also question musical orthodoxy."
regarding the Pop Group: "It was not punk. Punk had already happened. We were a year or two younger than the punk bands. And I'd always loved black music. I'd always gone to funk clubs… so I wanted to play funk. We really thought we were funky, but we couldn't play very well and we played out of time, so people thought we were avant-garde. All these old journalists would come up to you and start talking about Captain Beefheart. I couldn't stand Captain Beefheart. We thought we were like Bootsy Collins or something…"
Soul Jazz has done us all a tiny favor of compiling some of Stewart's best and most well-known tracks onto one handy little introduction. Kiss the Future is 12 tracks covering many of the years of his career and is the best you can get for the price until the rest of his material has been reissued. And I certainly hope that it does. Grab some more Pop Group and Stewart at the fantastic official blog dedicated to these artists.
the Pop Group - Beyond Good And Evil
Mark Stewart + Maffia - High Ideals & Crazy Dreams
Mark Stewart - The Lunatics Are Taking Over The Asylum